Subject: Questions on Florence, Italy
Hi Ziners,

I know that with all you Italy experts out there, I'll be able to get answers to my questions.

My children and I are now finalizing our plans for our Mediterranean (mostly Italy) cruise in October. We have booked our shore excursions, and now I'm doing some research, as I've never been to Italy (and am really excited about finally visiting there). Right now I'm working on Florence, and I'll have 3 1/2 hours by myself after a guided walking tour. (My son has a ticket for the Uffizi Gallery, and my daughter is taking a different tour -- 1/2 day to Pisa.)

Anyway, our tour ends at the Santa Croce, where Michelangelo's tomb is (my son's favorite artist); and in Rick Steves' "Mona Winks," I notice that Michelangelo's house and museum are not far from there and in the same direction as the Uffizi. So I'm hoping my son has the time to go with me there before he has to be at the Uffizi. Then I'll walk with him to the Uffizi, and I want to get some lunch somewhere and take photos and visit the Hotel degli Orafi (featured as the pensione in the movie "Room with a View").

After that, I'm going to spend my time with exploring and some shopping. Definitely, I want to cross the Ponte Vecchio and visit the Pitti Palace (home to the Medici family) and Bobeli Gardens. I'm hoping I can walk in the Vasari Corridor that was the Medicis' "secret" passage connecting Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, and the Pitti Palace. This was how they commuted between home and work. The walls were wallpapered with great art, and you can see part of the red-tiled roof just below the balcony of the suite at the Hotel degli Orafi "Room with a View" photo in the latest Conde Naste Traveler magazine I got in the mail yesterday. I'm hoping they allow the public to go in it. Does anyone know about this, and if there is still art on the walls? Also, where are the entrances?

Do you think all of the above is doable in the free time they give me (less than 3.5 hours)?

Also, do you know of an inexpensive, but good place, to have a fairly quick lunch near the Uffizi?

One last question: Does anyone know a website where I can print out a good map of this area of Florence?

Thanks so much for all your help.

Regards, Diana in San Diego, California