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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Got Reservations? Avoid Lines to See Renaissance Masterpieces

Just because the Renaissance was some 500 years ago, it doesn't mean you have to wait for hours to see many of its masterpieces. But don't ever try getting into Florence, Italy’s Uffizi Gallery during peak tourist season without a reservation.

A few years back in planning a trip to Italy, I knew I needed to reserve a spot to get in to this museum featuring many of the Renaissance period’s great masterpieces. But when I called six weeks in advance there were no tour times available until two and a half hours before our train was set to depart for Venice.

I had a choice and I had to make it quick. We could skip the museum, which wasn’t much of an option with my art-obsessed wife, or we could make do with a quick hour and a half of seeing the highlights in the Uffizi before heading off to catch the train. For me, it was a no-brainer.

I mean, yes, I hope to make it back to Florence one day. But just in case one day becomes never or many years from now, I had to make that reservation. Looking back, I’m glad we did, but I do wish we would have had more time to see this wonderful museum.

But I certainly am very glad we were not among the visitors who we saw standing in line for 10-plus hours trying to get squeezed into the museum. Our reservation was exactly that, a reserved spot for two that meant we did not have to spend hours waiting to get in.

So what can you do to avoid this at the Uffizi or other popular attractions? Well, if you’re planning a trip to a foreign country chances are you are doing it a few months in advance. So pencil in a few hours for those “must see” attractions, go to a travel forum such as Trip Advisor and find out from that forum’s experts if reservations are a must for that attraction.

Take it from me, it is well worth the extra time and effort to research the sites you want to see, particularly if your time is limited. Other than that, well, you can plan a trip next time for the off-season.

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