Traveling to a foreign country can be overwhelming, but on a recent trip to Florence, Italy we discovered one of the best ways to take in this historic and beautiful city: Pay for an organized tour to the major attractions.
Some people think they can manage a new city with their tour books and travel websites — and you should certainly do your research before visiting any new destination — but having a guide who speaks the local language and knows the city’s history can be invaluable. And the best tour in Florence for learning about the Medici family legacy and seeing Michelangelo’s David is with Through Eternity tours.
“I don’t like big crowds or strange smells,” our guide Ludi told us when we first met on their “Florence of the Medici and the Accademia’s David” tour.
Initially we thought this was a funny joke, but Florence is known as the “cradle of the Renaissance.” There are numerous churches, museums, and art destinations here, so it sees a lot of tourists. As such, when seeing places like the Accademia (where David is housed) or other museums, crowds can be enormous. So can the mingling of colognes, perfumes, and random body odors. Though Eternity’s tours allow you to skip the entry lines, and having someone help you avoid crowds makes your overall visit much more enjoyable.
The four-hour tour starts in the Piazza della Signoria, where we learned the history of Florence — and Italy as a whole. This included how the Medici family ruled and brought incredible art to the people, how they eventually lost power, on up through the Nazi occupation of the city and where we are today. Unlike a history class, it was lively and interesting, painting a picture of how this city and its people evolved with the changing political times.
We then walked away from the Piazza to view Florence from the opposite side of the River Arno. Not only did this orient us to everything we were about to see, it also helped us navigate the city throughout the rest of our trip. That 45 minutes of wandering through winding cobblestone streets felt both historic and romantic, and would later help us find our hotel, as well as the best cafes for an aperitivo (an afternoon wine, beer or spritz served alongside delicious finger foods).
Besides the Piazza della Signoria, the “Florence of the Medici and the Accademia’s David” tour covers The Duomo, The Baptistery, The Ponte Vecchio, and Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia.
Walking through the ornate Duomo and seeing Michelangelo’s David statue up close were the highlights. In both cases, we bypassed the lines thanks to Ludi’s guide pass, and within seconds found ourselves in the heart of these historic spaces. Ludi pointed out things we’d never have noticed on our own, and we were given plenty of time for photos, questions, or to just stand in silent awe.
Here’s the thing most tourists don’t always realize about these kinds of trips until it’s too late: Landmark destinations like museums are often massive and can feel incredibly overwhelming. There’s so much to see, and you don’t often know where you’re going, so it’s easy to become exhausted and frustrated — which isn’t how you want to spend a vacation.
Having Ludi with us, we were able to hit all the main attractions we wanted to see on a first visit to Florence, but without the confusion or hassle we’ve felt when touring other cities.
Likewise, Through Eternity only allows 9 people on this tour, and that includes the guide. This made it easier to navigate through spaces, and we were always able to hear what she was saying. There was no need for those annoying ear buds (that are rarely comfortable) with shoddy audio devices.
While there are other tour companies in Florence — and we took one to make the comparison — you’ll see them lumbering through the sites with more than 20 people in tow. They’re often noisy, chaotic, and without the calm or ease that we experienced touring with Through Eternity in both Florence and Rome.
Simply put, when we were with Ludi it felt like we were on an exciting vacation, discovering new things about the city and its history every second. It felt like we were traveling with a friend. The other tours? They felt more like class field trips.
That made Through Eternity definitely worth the money for us.