Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ET 3.03 - Florence, Italy

Actual date of this event: 8-12 September

On Sunday morning, Luke and I hopped on the train in Rome at 11:50 which put us in Florence by 1:20. It was high speed, reached up to 250km/h, and only made one stop, just outside of Rome. I am so jealous of all of the folks who live in mainland Europe who can just hop on a train and go anywhere. So much more relaxing than flying. We can't have it all though, can we?

We had a few minutes before Luke and I could pick up the keys to the apartment, so we did a bit of walking around. The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (aka "The Duomo") was located literally a block away, so we took a stroll around it since it is one of the main attractions in Florence. FYI - It is IMPOSSIBLE to get a picture of the whole church in one picture.

We stopped for a drink at Cafe Duomo which, after our trip, I learned was a place frequented by the cast of Jersey Shore when they stayed in Florence. Score! Not. Anyway, we got the keys, learned how to work the Air Conditioning (yes!!!), made a quick run to the grocery store which was just downstairs, the went exploring. Florence is so small! Everything is within walking distance, but that doesn't mean we walked any less. We still clocked probably 25 miles during our four day stay.
Piazza della Signoria - home of Palazza Vecchio and various statues. One of the statues in the square is a "fake David". I am so not into art that I walked right past the David statue without knowing what it was. Do I deserve to see the real David? No. But can you tell which one of these is the David Statue?

The streets of Florence are fairly nice. They are not cobblestone... I assume they have been replaced over the years. They are narrower than they could be because most streets have sidewalks on both sides. Florence also has some very unique street signs where "little guys" are doing things to do the markings on the signs. They have so many different ones throughout the city.

After weaving our way through a few streets, we reached the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio (procounced VECK-ee-oh, like how you say Pinocchio). The bridge is lined with jewelry shops.

We continued on our way and came across a BrewDog sign, so we had to stop to see what that was all about. Which resulted in us having a few drinks. Of course. One Eyed Jack has a few BrewDog beers on tap, so we had to represent - former ABZ in the house!

We meandered our way toward Santo Spirito. Since we were in the area and it was time for dinner, we plopped down at Nary's recommended restaurant of Borgo Antica for some pizza and beer. Did you know Italians think you are strange if you order wine with pizza? They always drink beer with pizza.
After dinner, we got some gelato at Gelateria Santa Trinita while enjoying a nice view of the Ponte Vecchio.

The river was so still - the reflections of the bridge and buildings were so beautiful. It was impossible to leave that spot. So we opened our bottle of wine that we picked up earlier that day and brought with us for our walk, and we watched the sunset in one direction and swooned over the bridge reflections in the other direction. Luke did a great job playing with the camera settings. He normally uses the basic setting, but he took some really nice pictures.

The next morning... Being so close to the Duomo and a light sleeper, that baby's bells woke me up at 7am and 8am and 9am. So I finally got up and went for a jog! Finally! I also did some laundry while Luke slept in. We headed out of the apartment around noon. It was a gorgeous day... perfect day for some excellent views! We went straight to Piazzale Michelangelo. It was a climb, but it was so worth it. This is a MUST DO if you ever visit Florence. 

Piazzale Michelangelo also has a "fake David' statue that was green and dirty... and that was enough art for me.
The art made me sleepy, so we went to Pitti Palace to lay down and take a nap just like the locals. Pitti Palace was once owned by a Florentine banker but is now the home of a few art collections. It has a beautiful garden in the back called Boboli Gardens.

After resting for a bit, we walked through Santo Spirito again. The square hosted a market the day before but today it was empty. At 3pm, the restaurants were full of people though.

We were starting to think about our dinner plans, so with a list in hand, we went looking for opening times for a few possibilities. Most "local-type" restaurants in Florence don't open until 7pm because the Italians don't usually eat dinner until after 8pm. In the process, we passed by Basilica of Santa Maria Novella which is right around the corner from the train station.
The restaurants on our list were not looking too great - most looked either totally closed for business or too expensive. This exhausted us so we got a to-go beer around Piazza della Signoria, and plopped down in the middle of the square to drink it. The cops didn't like this too much, so I recommend not doing that during your visit to Florence.
The cops shuffled us away, so we went to Piazza Santa Croce which is just a few blocks away. We sat on the bench this time to drink our beer. Basilica di Santa Croce is where folks like Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and others are buried.

We waited and waited for 7pm before we could eat dinner. Finally the time came, and we chose to eat at Baldovino which was the best pizza we had during our trip to Italy. I highly recommend it! There is outdoor seating but don't get it confused with the seating for a restaurant next door.

My pizza was covered in rocket (which I really only like on pizza) and shaved parmesan. Luke's tasted like American-style pizza. Yum yum yum!

After dinner we wandered around for a bit, and ended the night taking some pics of the Duomo.

On Tuesday, Luke and I did a wine tour where we visited the Chianti and Chianti Classico regions of Tuscany. I will write about that later. We got back from our tour around 5:30, and it wasn't a very pretty evening. We went to dinner around the corner from our apartment and had an early night. We were pretty sleepy from all of the wine, and the rain put us right to sleep!

On Wednesday morning, we woke up to a nice day lucky for us! We saved the tour of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore for last. I think we were dreading the stair climbing. Anyway, I will go into detail on that in another post. I have way too many pictures in this post as it is, and I have way too many of the Duomo.
After the Duomo, Luke pulled out the camera to take one more picture of the church because we OBVIOUSLY did not have enough already, and... womp womp... memory card full! So we were in search of a memory now. So so thankful that didn't happen while we were 400+ steps in the air. Yikes! Well we hadn't even been near the Accademia Gallery yet which is where Michelangelo's Statue of David lives, so we decided to go near there. I have said this previously, but I will say it again, Luke and I are in no way art people. It does not appeal to our-frugal-selves so we don't feel the need to spend the money and take the time away from our travels to squeeze into an art gallery, especially after our lack of interest with the Sistine Chapel, it was not going to happen. The building of the gallery is so unimpressive that I didn't even think to take a picture of it to show y'all. Anyway, we found a 16GB memory card for 20 euros. We are thinking this is cheap, but am I so clueless about how much technology stuff costs now that I live in the land of the Pound Sterling???

Moving on... we came across a really interesting building that had a bunch of United States "Dollars" on it. The quotes is because they were fake dollars, but it was really really weird. This was in the "not-so-nice" area of Florence.

Isn't Luke a pretty good photographer??? (but let's not encourage him too much... he already whines when I try to use the camera.)

For the rest of the day and evening, we wandered around Florence without much of an agenda. Here are some of my favorite shots that we took throughout those few hours.

That last one is what the Ponte Vecchio turns into at night. All of the jewelry shops get boarded up. We ended with eating at Baldovino again. We may or may not have "just so happened to have been in the area" around dinner time just so we could eat there again. Gah, the tomatoes are so yummy!!!
Afterward, we were near the gelateria that our wine tour guide (who has lived in Florence for most of his life) said was the best in town - Vivoli. I asked the lady behind the counter what kind she likes and she suggested Rise and Blueberry. I was concerned because I am not a blueberry person (I like blueberries, but not blueberry flavored stuff, same goes for grape), but OH.EM.GEE soooooo delicious!!!!!
Now I need to go eat something because I am hungry. BRB...

We had a nice and relaxing time in Florence. I would not consider this one of the top cities that I have visited but it most definitely a very nice place to visit. I for sure suggest it for a visit, but I would suggest doing it on your own, not using a hop-on-hop-off (it is insane to me that they have it there). The town is so small, so walkable, and so quiant when you are wandering yourself. Grab a bottle of wine, don't forget a corkscrew and cups (unless you're classy and drink it straight from the bottle), enjoy it on the bridge or atop Piazalle Michelangelo while watching the sunset. Just what the doctor ordered after a busy time in Rome.

Other post on Florencve: The Duomo

It is against the law for establishments in Florence to sell to-go beers after 9pm. We asked the police about drinking on the street, and they said we are not allowed after 9pm. But what do we do now, Officer?????

Note: If you want to make a comment below, you might notice that I have changed my commenting format. To comment on this post, 1.) write your comment, 2.) sign-in by clicking one of the circles (choose between Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, and Google - I always use Google), and 3.) click the grey "Post as ..." in the bottom right corner of the comment box. Disqus is great because when I comment back to you, you will get my reply without having to come back to this post. I love it! If you are having trouble, send me an email at buissonfamilyblog at gmail dot com.

Today, I have linked up with Belinda from Found Love, Now What? and 
Bonnie from A Compass Rose for Travel Tuesday.


  1. Wow, what a fun time! I love that photo of the dollar bills. ;)

    We were supposed to go to Florence last August but decided to hop on the train to Venice a day early. I'm regretting that decision after seeing all of your beautiful photos!!

    1. Thanks Rachel! That's too bad you didn't get to experience Florence but I'm sure Venice was great! Maybe one day :)

  2. Amazing! Lovely photos. Especially the ones over the Arno River!!

    I've been to Florence twice with my family when I was younger and absolutely loved it. Now that I'm older, I'd love to go back and see it all again now that I can really appreciate it.


    1. I bet you would love it if you went back! I'd assume adults would love it more than children. Hopefully you get the chance to visit soon! PS thanks for stopping by :)

  3. your pics of the river and Ponte Vecchio are AMAZING!!!


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