Travel Tips: Italy

Europe: Italy

Florence

Uffizi Gallery

Uffizi Gallery in Florence is one of the most popular tourist attractions and one of the first, and most visited museums, in the world. After the ruling house of Medici died out, they gifted their extensive art collections to the city of Florence. In 1765 it was officially opened to the public, formally becoming a museum in 1865. I recommend using one of the city passes for admission to avoid long ticket lines. I found the Firenze Pass to be the most complete for my 3-day stay. Plan ahead to avoid crowds by entering right away when they open and visit the most popular exhibits first. But make sure you don’t miss the smaller rooms as they hold many treasures as well. Interested in some of the fabulous Uffizi art I’ve highlighted in my blogs? Works by Honthorst, The official website is: https://www.uffizi.it/en but this also has some good visitor information. https://www.visitflorence.com/florence-museums/uffizi-gallery.html

Cher’s Arm Chair Travel with scenes at the Uffizi Gallery, Florence: “Tea with Mussolini” Film Discussion

Milan

Santa Maria delle Grazie

& The Last Supper

Milan is a magnificent city with many things to do related to past and present including the fabulous Duomo and fashion Gallery! But for me, the highlight is Leonardo da Vinci’s famous The Last Supper which resides in a Dominican convent in the Santa Maria delle Grazie church. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the church itself is interesting to visit as you wait for your timed slot for entrance to the painting. Don’t let the naysayers who tell you how difficult it is to get tickets discourage you.

My blog post on the Last Supper highlights this painting and its exhibit.

Yes, you will need to purchase your timed ticket in advance – you can do it online from the official website, the cheapest way to buy tickets. (It first shows up in Italian, but click around a bit and you’ll find it in English!) You can book a ticket three months in advance; take advantage of this since tickets sell out quickly due to its limited capacity. The electronic tickets include the reservation of a time slot so there won’t be any queue at the entrance door. The booking process is straightforward and the entrance should not be chaotic.

Ravenna

Basilica of San Vitale

Ravenna, with its myriad of Byzantine mosaics is a place to consider on your next trip to Italy. The Basilica of San Vitale is one of eight structures in the city inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Located on the north end of the east coast of Italy, Ravenna is a quaint, charming little city filled with history, culture and a gold mine of Byzantine architecture and mosaics. One reason it is so special is that it isn’t the most obvious tourist destination in Italy. It attracts hardcore art history lovers, like me, it didn’t appear to be overrun with tacky souvenir shops or click-happy tourists.

Since you will probably begin and end your visit to Italy on the west coast (Rome, Florence, Naples) or the northeast (Venice), I recommend taking a train, as we did. Get to Bologna from anywhere and you can easily connect to Ravenna. Book lodging near the train station, and you are within easy walking district of the entire town, all its sites, and great options for dining; no other transportation is needed. We took the train from Venice, arrived late morning for an afternoon of sight-seeing, and evening dining in a quaint, relaxing outdoor cafe with great cuisine options. After a bit more sight-seeing the next morning, we caught a train about noon for Rome (via Bologna). (Side note: Be sure to check for opening and closing times as you plan your visit, but this schedule should allow you plenty of time.)

If you want to add a trip to the seashore or surrounding area, you’ll need to add a bit more time and additional transportation or group tour.

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