TRAVEL THERE: FLORENCE WAS GREAT. TOO BAD THE SAME THING CAN’T BE SAID FOR THE RENAISSANCE VACATION
There is no one more susceptible to great marketing than someone in marketing. Our shore excursion to Florence is a perfect example of that. The photos and the copy sent me on flights of fantasy no walking tour of Florence could have, especially with the below par tour guide we were assigned to that day.
What It Should Have Been
The Celebrity website said, and I quote, “Florence, Italy is the birthplace of The Renaissance, and the site of your most memorable vacation yet. From the 13th to the 15th centuries, a profusion of poets, painters, sculptors, and architects flooded into Florence and produced the era’s most groundbreaking artwork. Departing from the port of Livorno, your excursion in Florence begins with a 90-minute drive through the beautiful Tuscan countryside those legendary artists once traversed. Your first stop takes you to the decadent Palazzo Pitti. Also known as Pitti Palace, this architectural marvel is one of Florence’s signature monuments. The Palatine Gallery lies on the first floor, and contains a broad collection of 16th and 17th century paintings. Its most iconic piece of art is likely the portrait of Maddalena Doni by Raphael in 1506. Next, you’ll visit the Boboli Gardens. While accurate, the Boboli Gardens are more than your standard garden. Boboli is actually one of the greatest open-air museums in Florence. The park boasts sculptures, fountains, centuries-old oak trees and more. As the garden that inspired European royal gardens like Versailles, there are few better examples of “green” architecture in the world. From here, your vacation in Florence takes you to Piazza della Repubblica, the most beautiful town square in the Tuscany region. This brief respite offers the opportunity to wine and dine before continuing onward to the Signoria and Santa Croce Squares.”
What I Imagined
I envisioned a luxurious bus ride through a gorgeous landscape. I assumed the bus would drop us off in front of the Pitti Palace. I hoped we’d have hours to wander all the galleries of the palace and then wander some more through one of the most beautiful gardens on earth. I was sure we’d need to stroll around a little bit to get to all the sites mentioned, but what’s a little walking, right? Besides I was so laser-focused on the Pitti Palace it was all I could think about.
What I Gave Up
Florence is a city you would needs days and days to see properly. The list of must-see attractions is daunting. Take the Uffizi Gallery for instance, one of the most prominent art museums of the world. Then there’s Michelangelo’s David, housed in another museum you’ve probably never heard of, but a piece of art I’ve wanted to see all my life. And the Duomo, famous as one of the most important cathedrals in the world, for the history that was lived there, for the artworks housed there, but most of all for its miraculous dome.
With all this to look forward to I allowed myself to be distracted by some great marketing. Don’t get me wrong, Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens are magnificent by any standard, but what they were selling me about the shore excursion isn’t what I got.
So, come on back next week and I’ll tell you how it went.