August’s Clients of the Month are Clayton and Dianne. I used to work with Clayton and over the years, he and Dianne have become good friends. They are both busy with their careers (he’s a manager in a technology company and she is a certified healthcare technology trainer) and they are also busy with their family. They are the parents of three talented girls, one of which was the catalyst for their trip to Florence.
Since they knew that Italy is one of my specialties, they came to me for help in putting together their family vacation to Italy.
Why did they decide to go to Florence?
Their middle daughter was studying abroad in Florence for six months. Since it was her first trip to Europe, they decided to have the entire family, including their grandmother, meet her there to do some exploring together.
What was their favorite day of the trip and why?
Their favorite day was one that almost didn't happen! I booked the family on a 10-hour Tuscany day trip, which is one of my (and my clients') favorite excursions from Florence. The day before they were scheduled to take this tour, they went to Venice for the day and ended up walking for miles. (They took a few wrong turns!) By the time they finally got back to Florence that night, they were completely exhausted. The thought of another long day was overwhelming and they tried to cancel, but were unable to because of the late notice. Thankfully they didn’t because this ended up being everyone's favorite day of the trip. They had a really fun tour guide, visited some great vineyards and learned a lot about wine. They saw a lot of the countryside and visited both Siena and San Gimignano, which they really enjoyed. And even though they saw a lot, they didn’t feel rushed and they completely enjoyed their time.
Let’s talk about Food. Did they have a favorite meal or restaurant?
They loved the food! Dianne didn’t want to eat anything when she returned home because it paled in comparison! They were amazed at how fresh everything was. Clayton’s favorite dinner was at Trattoria Za za, which is a great little place close to the San Lorenzo Market. The food was delicious with large servings, excellent service and an incredible value. They also liked grabbing “fast food” from Mercato Centrale and enjoyed Brew Dog for their large collection of craft beers from around the world.
What surprised them most about Florence?
Since it was Dianne’s first trip to Europe, she was very surprised by the basilicas. Not only was she blown away by their beauty, but also with the idea of how they were built so long ago. They were also surprised by how easy it was to get around the center of Florence and how walkable it was. Most of the cars being tiny was something else that was unexpected.
Did they have a least favorite thing about their trip?
Their least favorite thing about their trip was the threat of pickpockets in the busy touristy areas, especially around the Duomo.
What advice would they give to others traveling to Florence?
Dianne’s advice to those traveling to Florence is to try to plan your visit during the shoulder season so you can enjoy the city with great weather but without the crowds. Visit Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sunset, but if you want a ride back down to the city, make sure to prearrange it as the taxi line is very long with very few taxis available. Don’t just look at the Duomo from the outside. Make sure to visit the inside of it as it’s beautiful.
Clayton advises that you take time to enjoy Florence. If you can, plan to spend a week there as there is so much to see and do.
What was their most memorable experience?
Clayton’s mom had a birthday while they were in Florence and the entire family went to Piazzale Michelangelo for sunset to celebrate. This is the plaza that gives you the iconic view of the center of Florence. They brought wine and snacks and enjoyed the breathtaking views. Clayton said that he doesn’t know when he’s seen his mom happier!
Clayton and Dianne’s Final Thoughts
Florence is an easy place for Americans to visit because most people speak English and the people who live there are very warm and welcoming.
Clayton recommends buying leather from the University of Leather where you can watch leather being made. He also recommends visiting the jewelers on Ponte Vecchio for great values. And don’t forget the VAT refund!
Dianne says to make sure you book your trip to Italy with me! Seriously - this is not shameless self-promotion. She was grateful for the tours and the hotels that I booked for them. They wouldn’t have found them on their own and they loved them all. She also appreciated having backup. They couldn’t find their car service when they landed in Italy, but they were able to call me. I helped the car service find them. In her own words - “I don’t know what other travel agent would care as much!”
If you are now ready to plan your trip to Florence, let me help you! You can contact me here to get the ball rolling.