I've just returned from a short trip to Florence, for the BTO online travel conference. Prices in the market were slashed (I bought 2 decent presents each for 4 children for under 20 GBP total), I got into the Uffizi with no queue at all, and the city had a sunny crisp winter coat on, ideal for photography. What a great time to visit. Flying to Florence with Meridiana is quick and cheap from Gatwick, and hotel rates are cheap too.
Every visit to Italy shows me something new. This time it was the Cestello Annuncfiation by Botticello - what a spectacular painting. While the Japanese tour groups (yes, they still come, even in winter) crowd round the famous Venus, on the other side of the room, in the Uffizi, is this wonderful painting. Other highlights included San Lorenzo, a wonderfully cool Renaissance basilica, Michealangelo's Laurentian Library, the stunning chapel where the Medicis are buried (the early one by Michealangelo, not the baroque horror next door) and the Ghirlandaio frescoes in Santa Maria Novella.
We ate in the Trattoria Mario by the food market - excellent, crowded and cheap - and Perseus, which serves the best Bistecca Fiorentina in Florence. I stayed in the new Hotel Santa Maria Novella - supremely comfortable, overlooking the square. High-ish rack rates - 320 EUR plus - but you can always get a deal, especially in winter, and especially now.
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