Feature photo: A view of Florence
Florence is certainly one of those cities in the world that you should have seen for yourself. And the fact that this city is also in Tuscany, one of the regions most worth seeing in Italy with its approx. 4 million inhabitants, increases its attractiveness even more.
This makes the capital of Tuscany, with its almost 400 inhabitants, not only a worthwhile travel destination, but also a good base for exploring the entire region. For business travelers or people who are coming to Florence for a very specific purpose, I recommend arriving by plane. From there you can get to the center by bus and recently even by tram. However, a taxi should still ensure the best connection, especially if the hotel is ideally located a little further afield.
Arriving by train is no longer a big deal either. Coming from Zurich via Milan and Bologna or from Munich via Venice are probably the two most used routes. For train enthusiasts (there are still outside of Germany) I recommend the route from Lyon, Turin, Genoa, La Spezia, Livorno to Florence.
For our most recent visit to Florence, however, I chose the classic variant of a motorized crossing of the Alps and, thanks to a younger fellow traveler, I also chose the route that most Germans should still be familiar with, namely over the Fern Pass and the Brenner Pass.
A crossing of the Alps is still an experience today, and so we have included it in the travel program. Since we were a total of six people and had more luggage with us than our own, we took the opportunity to put a new product from a well-known German car manufacturer through its paces. That's why we crossed the same passes on the way back and made a detour to an Austrian ski area to chase the bus up and down a few switchbacks.
Maybe I'll even write my own test report one day, because our vehicle was convincing. Not only was there enough space and the suspension excellent, but we were more than fast on the road and this was coupled with an excellent range; There and back approx. 890 kilometers each with one tank filling - it couldn't be more comfortable.
The only annoyance on the trip was the Fernpass itself, because whoever controls a high mountain pass also bears a bit of responsibility; here it would probably be better if the Austrians left this to the Italians altogether. I was also surprised that cyclists are now also crossing the Alps and I therefore see an increased importance of rest stops, especially near the passes. These rest stops near the pass should not become tourist traps with irregular opening times, but should be part of a functioning infrastructure — in Austria, however, even motorway rest stops are now only open from time to time.
Our crossing of the Alps in the best weather was a fine thing, and we could get along well without open restaurants. The onward journey through South Tyrol, past Lake Garda and Verona and then through the Po Valley was a pleasure. Via the Autostrada del Sole it was then just a slide to Florence; here I was able to drive through the newly built tunnel route for the first time, which is faster and more comfortable, but can no longer come up with the scenic beauty of the region.
Although Florence can still offer pleasant weather in April, I still prefer a hotel there in the direction of Fiesole. Also this time we used this as our contact point; Quietly located with a stop for the city bus in front of the door and the option of buying bus tickets at reception.
The focus of our visit this time was the Historical Archives of the European Union in the Villa Salviati, which is also well worth seeing. And for me personally, it's the buildings, next to their gardens, that make Florence so fascinating. The Ponte Vecchio alone, the churches and palaces are enough to keep you coming back to Florence. But when you add to that the many villas, both old and new, it's an almost impossible task.
And so it wasn't too bad that we didn't go to the Uffizi this time, which would have been a bit more difficult given the current number of visitors - I strongly recommend booking the tickets online two days in advance. Because once COVID-19 is behind us, the rush will certainly continue to increase.
In addition, if you are not in Florence regularly, I recommend using the red bus, which has one or more routes depending on the season. This gives you a good overview of the city.
What was new for me during our visit this year is that you can also use your own means of transport to explore the surrounding area. And as already written, Florence is in Tuscany - you don't have to write more about it.
I was very happy that my favorite restaurant survived the pandemic with flying colors and that we were still the only non-Florentine guests. Which will certainly mean that my better half will continue to expand her knowledge of Italian.