Overview Florence | IQCruising

Florence - Livorno Cruise Destination

Panoramic Photo of Florence

Overview

Florence - Must Know
Where, Getting There, To See and Do

By: Editor-in-Chief | Date - May 18, 2017


Where and How

The medieval charm of Florence is undoubtedly the main reason why cruise ships dock at the Port of Livorno. In fact, most cruise lines promote their itineraries with Florence as a port of call - with Livorno in parenthesis (or vice-versa). But, although most cruise travelers are aware of the fact that Florence is not by the sea, many do not realize that famous renaissance city is located 56 miles (90 km) East of the Livorno taking at least 1h 30 minutes to travel between the cruise ship and the city center of Florence. This is why cruise ships stay at the Port of Livorno for up to 12 hours.

Naturally, a shore excursion - booked onboard or with third party tour/guides online - is the most popular way of exploring the city. However, there are other ways to enjoy a day in Florence that can be both more affordable and more enjoyable. Traveling by train is without a doubt the most affordable way. Hiring a Taxi the most convenient and expensive. Renting a Car can be a challenge if nor familiar with Italian fast driving, high traffic and where to park in Florence.

Exploring Florence's Attractions

There is so much to see and do in Florence that time will always restrict what the traveler will be able to see and do. Inevitably, and regardless of the tour - be it a cruise excursion or a private tour/guides - even the excursions attempting to tour the highlights of Florence will always be forced to skip major sites.

Photo of David in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

David's Head (detail) in Florence

Photo Public Domain

Because of time restrictions, all excursions take cruise travelers to see a handful of really interesting sites but with few exceptions, you would not have time to go inside. Typically, cruise excursions will take you to see the Cathedral and Bell Tower (Duomo - Campanile), the Baptistry of Saint John (Battistero di San Giovanni) right in front, the Piazza della Signoria to see the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace), the Loggia dei Lanzi and a walk outside the Galleria degli Uffizi (Uffizi Gallery) all the way to the Arno to have a look at the Ponte Vecchio.

Photo of Cathedral in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

Cathedral in Florence

Photo © IQCruising.com

All these highlights will be seen only from the outside in a leisurely walk through the historical center. Only two sites will be visited inside - the Galleria dell’Accademia (Accademia Gallery) to see the famous David sculptured by Michelangelo and the Church of St. Croce (Holy Cross Church) to see the tombs of illustrious sons of Florence like Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and the memorial to Dante. But many other highlights will have to be skipped. This doesn't mean that the shore excursions offered on cruise ships are bad or not worthwhile. The fact is that it is plainly impossible to see it all in one day and choices have to be made.

Photo of Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

Palazzo Pitti in Florence

Photo © IQCruising.com

Erroneously, many a cruise traveler that has been in Florence before on a cruise excursion may be under the impression that has seen it all. If that's your perception, you couldn't be more wrong. There are literally over 30 other must-see places that are not included on ship excursions and that would take at least 1 to 2 hours each to fully enjoy. The Palazzo Pitti, for example, is a must and takes at least 3 hours to tour - not including the gardens. And if you wish to admire some of the major artworks on display at the Uffizi, like Da Vinci's Annunciation, you should be preapered to spend at least 3 hours at this fabulous museum.

Photo of Da Vinci's Annunciation in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

Da Vinci's Annunciation at the Uffizi

Photo Public Domain

Photo of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

Santa Maria Novella in Florence

Photo © IQCruising.com

As a matter of fact, in twenty years of visiting Florence with organized excursions, the Editor never came across a tour offering visits to major sites like the Laurentian Library, the Synagogue, the Palazzo Pitti, the Boboli Gardens; to museums like the Bargello, the Casa Buonarroti, the Davanzati's Palace Museum, the Marino Marini Museum, the Galileo's Museum, the Medici Riccardi Museum, the Galleria degli Innocenti, the Horne Museum, the Stefano Bardini's Museum, the Stibbert Museum or the Chiostro dello Scalzo. Also left out of cruise excursions there are wonderful churches that must be seen like Santa Maria Novella, San Lorenzo, Santo Spirito, Orsanmichele, San Marco, St. Trinity, San Miniato al Monte, the Basilica Santissima Annunziata or the Brancacci Chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine.

Photo of San Lorenzo in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

San Lorenzo Cloister in Florence

Photo © IQCruising.com

The cruise traveler that wishes to visit any of these, or fully enjoy extraordinary art collections displayed in museums like the Uffizi or the Bargello will have to travel on your own as the Editor did (and does) when exploring Florence. Or take a ship tour that only offers the transfer to and from Florence. And what a delight it is to have the time and freedom to enjoy what you really want to see and do. The train as been the Editor's favorite traveling choice for one main reason - the railway station in Florence is centrally located. Just 5-minute walk away, Santa Maria Novella and San Lorenzo are two sites that organized excursions never visit.

Quick Bites or Lunch

Photo of Quick Bites in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

Quick Bites in Florence

Photo by Management

Because the cruise traveler will spend a full day in Florence, the cruise traveler will need to find a place to have lunch or a quick bite. If on an organized excursion you will be given what in tour lingo is described as 'free-time' for lunch (between 1 and 2 hours). Surely the guides will point out a couple of places, usually good and not too expensive, close to where the meeting place is to be set. But there are so many good places to savor the best of florentine flavors that you will find out - unfortunately, too late - that you could have tasted a superb lunch or quick bite whilst on a day exploring Florence.

Photo of All'Antico Vinaio in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

All'Antico Vinaio in Florence

Photo by Management

If in a splurge mood (and deep pockets), the Enoteca Pinchorio is a must - it will set you back no less than $200 per person but it is the best restaurant in Florence with 3 Michelin stars. On the opposite side of the scale, there are food vendors that have been serving food to be eaten on or by the street - All'Antico Vinaio, L'Antico Trippaio or Ino with its gourmet panini are Editor's Favorites. For a quick bite but seating down, the Osteria del Caffè Italiano, the Cantinetta Antinori, Le Volpi e l'Uva, Cantinetta dei Verrazzano are ideal.

Photo of Trattoria Le Mossacce in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

Trattoria Le Mossacce in Florence

Photo by Management

Photo of Borgo San Jacopo in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

Borgo San Jacopo in Florence

Photo by Management

If looking for a real popular place where locals go, don't miss the famous Trattoria Mario (typical florentine lunch for €20) on a square behind the food market (Mercato Centrale), which is a bit off track. But in the central area, close to all main attractions, you will find excellent restaurants like Acqua al 2, Coquinarius, da Sergio, Trattoria Le Mossacce, Trattoria La Casalinga, Il Santo Bevitore, Dino or Cibrèo. For upscale restaurants with refined decor, settings and high-end service Alle Murate, Borgo San Jacopo, Giacosa Roberto Cavalli or La Giostra are the places to go.

Photo of Ice Cream in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

Ice Cream in Florence

Photo © IQCruising.com

A day in Florence will never fully enjoyed without tasting a good Italian ice-cream. There are so many vendors around that it is next to impossible to choose the best ones as all look delicious, colorful and lines of clients may indicate quality. Be aware that some are ridiculously overpriced so check prices - usually displayed - before ordering. The Editor has run away from street vendors for many years ago and recommends instead the 'Gelaterias' like Carabé, dei Neri, Grom, Vivoli, Vestri, Perchè No, la Carraia or la Carapina.

Photo of Caffè Rivoire in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

Caffè Rivoire in Florence

Photo by Management

Wherever and whatever you decide to sit down for a meal, just make sure you avoid the many tourist traps by famous sites, on major squares or by historical buildings. If you see large signs with photos of pizzas and pasta dishes at affordable prices just walk away - you will not be missing a great deal but instead, dodge a bad meal. But if you really want to enjoy a view of a major landmark like the Piazza della Signoria whilst enjoying a quick bite, then look out for Caffè Gilli or Caffè Rivoire. Check the Useful Links below to find the websites of the recommended restaurants in Florence.

Shops and Shopping

Photo of Salvatore Ferragamo Boutique in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

Salvatore Ferragamo Boutique in Florence

Photo by Management

Florence is known for the excellence of fashion design and as the city where many a famous name was born - Ferragamo, Cavalli, and Gucci are just 3 examples. Naturally, almost every single top fashion design label can be found in Florence and they are all on the same street - Via Tornabuoni and on a side street of this one, Via della Vigna Nuova. This couldn't be more convenient if you would like to buy a design souvenir or just window shop for the latest trend. Also on Via Tornabuoni, the Palazzo Spini Feroni shouldn't be missed - on the ground floor you will find a massive Ferragamo shop and on the floors above the amazing museum with Salvatore's shoe designs.

Photo of La Rinascente in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

La Rinascente in Florence

Photo by Management

When looking for more regular shops, Via Roma, Via de' Calzaiuoli and Piazza Repubblica are the streets where you will find department stores like La Rinascente and C & A, and brands like Calzedonia, Desigual, Diesel, Furla, Geox, H & M, Hollister, Intimissimi, Lacoste, Luisa Spagnoli, Mango, Massimo Dutti, Puma, Replay, Sisley, Stefanel, Stradivarius, Swarovski, Swatch, Tezenis, Benetton, Zara, L'Occitane, Lush, Marionnaud or Sephora.

Besides the fashion design, Florence is also known for the quality of the leather tanning process and, above all, for the overwhelming offer. There are so many shops, street vendors and leather markets all over the city that is next to impossible to figure out what to choose and what is really good quality.There are a few shops that IQCruising can vouch for its genuine quality: Casini (Piazza de Pitti) in front of the Palazzo Pitti; Bemporad (Via Calzaiuoli 11) in the heart of the historical center and Giorgio 1966 (Via del Canto dei Nelli 34) and, most shops and stalls on San Lorenzo Market.

Photo of Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Livorno Cruise Port Destination

Ponte Vecchio in Florence

Photo © IQCruising.com

The Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, is more than just a landmark - the only bridge crossing the Arno river in 1218, which was rebuilt to its present form in 1345. For two centuries, the bridge was lined by the stench of butchers, fishmongers, and tanners, but after 1593 only goldsmiths and jewelers had permission to open shop at the Ponte Vecchio and, since then, the landmark became - to this day - a major shopping and historical site.

From Livorno to Florence

Traveling TIME from LIVORNO

TO By Car By Train By Bus Tour Distance
Florence 1 h 20 min 1 h 20 min 1 h 50 min 1 h 30 min 90km
56miles

Florence and Pisa in a Day

All cruise lines offer tours (or shorex as excursions are called when booked onboard a cruise ship) to both Florence and Pisa. These tours are very popular but cruise travelers should be aware that besides being long and tiring, you will not have much time in Pisa to see more than the attractions in and around the Piazza del Miracoli. And, even so, not much time to go up the Leaning Tower or visit two fabulous museums (the Museum of Sinopias and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo).

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Useful Links

Florence Tourist Office

Official Website:
www.firenzeturismo.it

Highlights

Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Official Website

San Giovanni Baptistry
Official Website

Palazzo Vecchio
Official Website

Uffizi Galleries
Official Website

Palazzo Pitti
Official Website

The Boboli Gardens
Official Website

Santa Croce
Official Website

Santa Maria Novella
Official Website

Bargello National Museum
Official Website

Accademia
website

San Marco Museum
Official Website

Jewish Museum and Synagogue
Official Website

Museum of the Medici Chapels
Official Website

San Lorenzo
Official Website

Medicea Laurenziana Library
Official Website

Major Museums - Art

Medici Riccardi Palace
Official Website

Museum of Orsanmichele
Official Website

The Cathedral Museum
Official Website

Cappella Brancacci
Official Website

Cenacolo by Andrea del Sarto
Official Website

Chiostro dello Scalzo
Official Website

Galileo Museum
Official Website

Marino Marini Museum
Official Website

Museo della Fondazione Horne
Official Website

Museo Novecento
Official Website

Stefano Bardini Museum
Official Website

Museum of Palazzo Davanzati
Official Website

Gucci Museum
Official Website

Salvatore Ferragamo Museum
Official Website

Stibbert Museum
Official Website

Museum Casa Martelli
Official Website

Must See - Churches

Basilica of Santo Spirito
Official Website

St. Felicita Church
Official Website

Restaurants

Enoteca Pinchiorri
Owner Website

Acqua al 2
Owner Website

All'Antico Vinaio
Owner Website

Alle Murate
Owner Website

La Giostra
Owner Website

Cantinetta Antinori
Owner Website

Il Santo Bevitore
Owner Website

Dino
Owner Website

All'Antico Vinaio
Owner Website

Ino
Owner Website

Osteria del Caffè Italiano
Owner Website

Le Volpi e l'Uva
Owner Website

Cantinetta dei Verrazzano
Owner Website

Trattoria Mario
Owner Website

Coquinarius
Owner Website

da Sergio
Owner Website

Trattoria Le Mossacce
Owner Website

Trattoria La Casalinga
Owner Website

Cibrèo
Owner Website

Borgo San Jacopo
Owner Website

Giacosa Roberto Cavalli
Owner Website

Gelateria - Ice Cream

Gelateria Carabé
Owner Website

Gelateria dei Neri
Facebook Page

Gelateria Grom
Owner Website

Gelateria Vivoli
Owner Website

Gelateria Vestri
Owner Website

Gelateria Perchè No
Facebook Page

Gelateria la Carraia
Facebook Page

Gelateria la Carapina
Owner Website

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Last Update: May 18, 2017

The information on this page was accurate when last updated and published but changes may have occurred without notice.
It is advisable to confirm details with local tourist information before planning your cruise, tour or excursions of Florence.
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