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What Makes Florence So Great?

Whether you’re arriving by cruise ship to the port of Livorno or coming by train or by air, Florence is almost surely at the top of your bucket list.  It is the most popular tourist destination in Tuscany, after all.

So what makes Florence so great?  

First and foremost, Florence is beautiful.

If you don’t care about history and if galleries aren’t your thing, no worries; Florence is thoroughly enjoyable without getting into any of that.  

Basically a giant hunk of architectural eye-candy, Florence will delight you at every turn with its pretty piazzas, elegant porticoes, and graceful palazzi from Medieval and Renaissance times. (Palazzi literally means “palaces,” which can apply to both palatial estates and multiple-storey structures such as apartment buildings.)

NOTE: Florence is quite compact.  You can cover the historic center efficiently on foot but the streets are stone and quite uneven. If you have small children or mobility issues, a private excursion is something to seriously consider.  More on this at the end of the blog post.  Or just call us.

Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance.

If you love art or history (or both), Florence is the best place to experience it first-hand.

The mark of the Medici family — the wealthy and powerful bankers that were basically responsible for the city’s rise to prominence in the 15th century — is everywhere.  Their dedication to humanism and their patronage of fine art shaped an environment in which such genius painters and sculptors as Donatello, Botticelli, and Michelangelo were able to flourish.

You can see some of the most important works of these Renaissance artists in the Accademia, Uffizi, and Bargello galleries.  Some works are even scattered around the city for free viewing, such as those in the loggia in Piazza della Signoria.

Florence is a paradise of peasant food.

As in all of Italy, the fantastic food in Florence is a product of poverty and humble ingredients, simple dishes invented by women in their own kitchens in times long gone by.  The traditions are still very much alive yet today, and what you get from these peasant origins is truly divine, perhaps even fit for a king!  

You can sample genuine Florentine food such as peposo, francesina, bollito, ribollita, or the legendary bistecca alla fiorentina in any number of trattorie.  (Note that In a real trattoria you may end up sharing a table with others; this is both part of the history of the trattoria and a part of its charm.)

If you have no culinary fear you will want to try some lampredotto.  This is the quintessential Florentine food, a street food as bizzare as it is delectable (well, if you have an open mind and palate).  Stand at the counter and drink a glass of red wine as you eat your lampredotto and you will feel like a true Florentine!

Florence is a perfect complement to Rome.

The elegant, Renaissance beauty of Florence is a really nice contrast to all the ancient stuff in Rome.

If you're coming to Italy on a cruise, you'll almost surely find the ports of Livorno (Florence) and Civitavecchia (Rome) back to back on your cruise schedule. Our shore excursion to Florence & Pisa includes all the highlights and is the most efficient way to tour when starting from a cruise ship.

If you're staying in Rome and would like to visit Florence in air-conditioned comfort, look no further than DriverInRome! Enjoy the picturesque countryside of Lazio and Tuscany with your own driver-guide on this exclusive day trip, door-to-door from your Rome lodgings. Return to Rome or remain in Florence to fully appreciate its architectural splendour, great food, and sophisticated shopping.

So now that you’re sold on Florence it’s time to figure out how to get there.  What is the best way to go on an excursion from the port of Livorno?

There are lots of ways to get to Florence from Livorno, which is about 60 miles away.  It takes about 75 minutes by train or by car.  


Shore excursions to Florence from the port of Livorno are our specialty!  A private chauffeur service will enable you to get the most out of your day trip.  We can also include a stop in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower (yes, there would be time to climb it) and book your skip-the-line tickets.  Florence can also be combined with San Gimignano, which isn’t possible to get to by train.


Speaking of trains, remember that getting to the train station in Livorno will take some time; it’s not close to port, nor is it conveniently connected.  You’ll need to get to get the shuttle out of the port (not free), buy a bus ticket, figure out which bus to take and where to catch it, get to the train station, and buy your tickets to Florence.  Keep in mind that taxis are not always so readily available at the station at the end of the day as most of them are bringing back clients from various places in Tuscany.


Of course the cruise lines and private companies offer transfers and excursions to Florence, but if you want some flexibility and don’t want to deal with 50 people you don’t know or going at the pace of the slowest person in the group, then a private shore excursion is the way to go.


Our drivers all speak fluent English and know Florence inside out (as well as the other popular places in Tuscany such as Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano, and Siena).  

We can also arrange a private tour guide for you, which is a marvelous way to experience Florence, and well worth the cost.  They will show you the most indicative and important things, so you’ll get the most out of your time.  We also have kid-friendly tours that are great for the whole family.

We’d be very pleased to have you tour with us!

Please call us if you’d like to discuss anything.  We’ll be frank about the pluses and minuses of all your options.  

Photo credit: Taylor Smith on Unsplash

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