Museums, Tours, and Towers

TIP #1:
Cappuccinos are only €1,20

There are a few things to note regarding the coffee culture in Italy. First off, don’t order a latte if you are expecting the American kind with a lot of milk. Latte literally means “milk” in Italian so you will only receive a cup filled with steamed milk. I actually had to clarify to the baristas that I wanted just the latte since my sister requires drinking a glass of milk with breakfast every morning (she doesn’t drink coffee). It was quite funny to have to explain that yes, I do know what I meant to order, and yes, I really do just mean a glass of milk. Milk in Italy is really interesting! I’m not a huge dairy fan but my sister said it is much creamier than the milk in the States, even the fat-free kind. 

TIP #2:
Latte means “milk” in Italian so don’t expect American lattes when ordering one


TIP #3:
Seats cost extra in Italy so if you’re grabbing breakfast, eat/drink at the bar to avoid the seating charge

Also, seats carry an additional charge in Italy, not just in Florence. You will often see signs that state how much it will cost you to sit down to eat. Obviously when you are sitting down for a meal, you have no choice but to pay for the seating charge – but for breakfast, it’s easier and better to just have the espresso and a brioche/croissant at the bar standing so that once you are done, you can just leave the cup there and get on with your day! I’m also not a huge coffee drinker but wow, coffee really does taste different in Italy and I almost couldn’t function without it!

Thou shalt only drink cappuccino, caffé latte, latte macchiato or any milky form of coffee in the morning, and never after a meal.

Thou shall be allowed the following variations, and these only, from the Holy Trinity of caffè, cappuccino and caffé latte: caffè macchiato or latte macchiato.

Keep it simple!

We started the day off with the Giotto’s Bell Tower at the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, the main church in Florence. The Bell Tower is considered to be the most beautiful campanile in Italy and from the top of the tower, you can see other people at the top of the Dome. The Bell Tower and the Dome can both be accessed with the Duomo Single Pass (which also gives you access to the cathedral, the Crypt, the Baptistry, and the museum) or can be accessed by paying €15 upon entrance. The Dome does require a reservation so that can be done online in advance. The Dome of this cathedral is special because it is a masterpiece capable of withstanding lightning, earthquakes and the passage of time.

TIP #4:
Il Grande Museo del Duomo Single Pass: €15
(Access to: Cathedral, Dome, Baptistry, Bell Tower, Crypt, Museum)


TIP #5:
Dome Entrance Fee: €15
(also included in the Duomo Single Pass)
Entry via the Porta della Mandorla (north side of the Cathedral)
Reservations required
463 steps

We ended up climbing up the Bell Tower instead and the view of Florence was incredible! You do have to queue up to go up the tower because they only allow a limited group of people at a time to avoid a buildup of foot traffic. From the Bell Tower, we could also see the people who climbed up the Dome and it made for a fantastic photo! The top of the Bell Tower is not as high as the Dome but I do feel like you get a pretty similar experience regardless.

TIP #6:
Giotto’s Bell Tower Entrance Fee: €15
(also included in the Duomo Single Pass)
414 steps


After visiting the Cathedral (my sister and my friend also checked out the crypt but those freak me out), we went to Palazzo Vecchio where the infamous Medici family used to reside in and went on the Medici Family Secret Passages tour where you got to see the hidden entrances and hidden rooms that the Medici family used! I would highly recommend this tour because there were so many interesting tidbits I learned regarding the architecture of the building. For example, the most amazing thing I learned was the Ceiling of the Palazzo. From the ground floor looking up, there appears to be frescos on the ceiling. However, those are not actually frescos! They are just paintings that are suspended individually so that when there are earthquakes, they do not crack! Also, the wooden construction of the ceiling was made so that it would move with the earthquake instead of breaking down – and the construction has not changed for the past few hundred years. The tour takes you to the inner roof of the ceiling where you can see the paintings hanging and how the structure of the roof was designed.

TIP #7:
Palazzo Vecchio Entrance Fee: €18
Palazzo Vecchio Secret Tour: €20,50
Secret Tour tickets can be purchased here

At this point, my friend had to leave to go back to Switzerland but before we said our goodbyes, we had our final meal at Mercato Centrale, where you can try a large variety of Tuscan cuisine. I got another plate of the truffle crostini mixti because I cannot pass up some good tartufo! Sadly, it was time to part ways with my friend and we dropped him off back at our Airbnb.


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