Affordable Europe: Florence discounts

By Kate Appleton
October 3, 2012
Courtesy Kate Appleton

In Florence’s crowded historic center, it can feel like there are as many Americans as locals—and tourism board and province officials want it to stay that way. They were in New York recently to introduce the Fiorino Effect, a series of wide-ranging discounts they hope will keep Americans visiting despite the weak dollar.

The promotion kicks off May 15—timed to the start of Il Genio Fiorentino, a 10-day festival—and runs through December 31. It provides a 10 percent discount at participating hotels and restaurants in Florence and neighboring small towns like Reggello and Barberino Val D’Elsa.

Among the more affordable options, Giovanni da Verrazano, a 10-room hotel overlooking the main piazza of Greve, Chianti, made the cut for our Secret Hotels of Tuscany feature. And we’ve previously recommended the family-run Albergo Serena, an 18th-century building with patterned stone-tile floors, well-worn furnishings, and a convenient location by Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station.

Americans will also get free admission to the Palazzo Medici, a 20 percent discount on exhibits at the Palazzo Strozzi, and a 15 percent discount on performances at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.

Be sure to mention the Fiorino Effect when booking your hotel room and download the voucher before you go. It has an image of the fiorino (florin), a gold coin introduced in the 1200s by Florentine bankers and that enjoyed a heyday as the preferred currency for trade. The promoters are quick to compare it to the role played by the dollar—for now, anyway.


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(For the record, the wombat makes a ticka-ticka sound, here, there, and everywhere.)…" —From Elrena Evans's story, "Traveling Songs". **** Traveling with a child is like having the common cold. Everyone offers advice. "Bring a stroller" and "Whatever you do, don't use the stroller." "Don't go in December, too hot." "Only go in December; otherwise it is far too cold for children!" Everyone has a tip, even if they have not been to the place you will be traveling, even if they don't have kids themselves. Laos, like most Southeast Asian countries still holds a strong association of war for many Americans. It is not exactly a typical holiday to take with a two-year old in tow. But…we were looking forward to it… We were particularly looking forward to … Luang Prabang, of which our trusty copy of the Lonely Planet said, "the city's mix of gleaming temple roofs, crumbling French provincial architecture and multiethnic inhabitants tends to enthrall even the most jaded travelers."… Luang Prabang is indeed an enchanted place. We were also getting into the traveling groove and started to feel the benefits of traveling together as a family. For one we were up before all the tourists who stayed up late drinking cheap cocktails and falling in and out of love at the hostels. We saw pristine waterfalls at dawn and could imagine ourselves prehistoric and pure without the constant company of camera flashes. Luc was an instant celebrity wherever we went. Everyone from old women to teenage boys came up to pinch his pink cheeks, rub his curly blond hair and offer him sweets and fruit. 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In honor of the new movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Expedia has created travel deals either based on or inspired by Indy's escapades. Trips go to locales such as India, Nepal, Jordan, and Egypt, and include thrills such as an elephant safari and a night tour of the Amazon (without snakes, hopefully). The full list of deals is available at Sample deal: Egypt Tour from $2,299 A 10-day escorted tour round trip from Cairo with transfers and local transportation (train, plane, bus, boat), five nights' hotel, a three-night Nile cruise, one overnight train, a desert camel ride, and more. International airfare isn't included. Book by: Sept. 31. When: Until Dec. 31, 2009. Single supplement: $1,200. Expedia, 866/925-1793, MORE Watch's narrated video of the ancient desert city of Petra, where Indy is pictured above. [CORRECTION: This blog post originally said that the picture above was a still from Raiders. In fact, it's a still from The Last Crusade. We regret the error.]