If I could sum up our trip to florence in one word, it would have to be the Italian word, saporito! It translates in English to, “flavorful”. Which is exactly what Florence was to me in more ways than one. There is of course the given – the food. spaghetti, pizza, burrata cheese, gelato, wine, fresh veggies, and decadent cappuccinos. ugh, I could go on and on. . . but then there was the history. There was so much history to see all around us. There are buildings older than our country! The sculptures told us stories of another time, the city walls made us feel like we were in a movie from the medieval times, and even the streets themselves are still made up of cobblestones. Then of course the art. We didn’t get to go to one museum while we were in Italy (the only disappointment) but the art was everywhere, and that was probably my favorite flavor.
I kept a journal as we explored Italy. I wanted to remember EVERYTHING. And since I wrote down everything, I will probably overshare 😉
Traveling to another country is pretty intimidating to me, especially when there’s a language barrier. Thankfully we were traveling with pros 🙂 and we learned so much from them. Number one being: “don’t be intimidated.” ha, great! Getting from the airport in Florence to our Airbnb downtown was actually easy peasy! We walked outside, walked over to a lineup of taxi’s, gave him the address, he loaded up our bags for us, and off we went!
**TIP: you cannot wave down a taxi in Italy. They will simply wave back to you. haha! We seemed like such friendly Americans to multiple taxi drivers before figuring this out. Just go into a cafe, restaurant, or any store – tell them you need a taxi, and more than likely, they will be able to help you out. **
We stayed in this airbnb while we were in Florence. The location was so perfect. I would highly recommend this apartment. Our host, Camilla, was very sweet. She helped us get settled in, and even gave us a few restaurant recommendations. Our only “complaint” was the mountainous stairs we had to climb. However, with all the food we ate everyday, we were thankful for the exercise.
We were exhausted from traveling, frustrated that the airport had left our luggage in Amsterdam, and we were not used to the time change at all, so our first day in Florence consisted of eating two incredible meals, finding a farmacia, (so that we could buy toothbrushes) and drinking all the wine that we could find. I think it’s safe to say that we were pretty drunk after being in Italy for just three hours. cheers! We saw Ponte Vecchio each time we walked out of our Airbnb.
The time change had us awake at 6am, but I think that was after 9 hours of sleep. Cury and I headed to a little cafe that was just a two minute walk from our apartment. It was called, IL Rifrollo. Here, we ordered two cappuccinos and a chocolate croissant for €3.70 – not bad. oh! and the croissants are everything people say about them and more!
**TIP: When you order your morning coffee in any cafe in Italy, you kind of just yell out what you want. There’s no line to wait in. You kind of just wait for a barista to make eye contact with you, then you shout out your order. We noticed right away that most people would come in, make their order, drink their coffee while standing right up at the counter, then leave their euros on the counter, and walk out.**
These “dead end” street signs kept us pretty entertained as we walked around the city. I read an article about him and his work just before we left for Italy. All of the added on artwork is easily removable adhesives, but apparently it’s still against the road laws. So the artist, Clet was fined €400 ticket. He continues to place his artwork all around the city because he says, “I don’t know what the difference is between a graffiti artist and my work. I can say for sure that my stickers are easily removable.”
We headed back to our apartment after coffee, and thank God, our luggage arrived 15 minutes later. We cleaned up, changed clothes – finally, and headed out again. we headed over to Ponte Vecchio. Since it is such a popular sight, it was a little touristy and crowded, but I loved seeing all of the street vendors. You can find all of the leather goods and little Pinocchio dolls your heart desires. We had dinner at a restaurant called, Yellow Bar. This was one of our favorite places. We watched them make pasta noodles right in front of us. Cury had pizza and I had spaghetti. We washed it down with a bottle of Chianti Classico– this seems to be the most common regional wine in Florence. I wish I could tell you more about it, but just trust me when I say that it’s fantastic. I have actually been able to find some at Whole Foods here at home. We frequently used the wine bar Restaurant as a meeting place with the family we traveled with – surprise, surprise. I couldn’t find a link to their website, but it’s located right in front of Ponte Vecchio. Be sure to make reservations if you go after Aperitivo which is the Italian happy hour. Happy hour in Italy is more about the free food rather than cheaper drinks.We ended each day with gelato – no regrets! 😉
We visited Giardino Boboli the following day. It’s a gigantic garden in the center of the city. We grabbed a few sandwiches on the way and decided to have a picnic there. It was just €10 for two very large sandwiches and a water.
**TIP: well, not a tip, but a fact – you have to pay for bottled water at every restaurant. It doesn’t come with your meal like it does in the states.**Everything was so green and perfectly taken care of at the Boboli Gardens. I would highly recommend making a visit if you find yourself in Florence. Of course there is more art here.. it’s everywhere! They actually refer to the gardens as an open-air museum. It is €7/ticket to enter. The end of the gardens meets up to Piazza Pitti. There you can look over Florence, and the view is quite stunning. Later, we browsed around the high-end shopping district. It’s not my thing, but it was pretty cool to see the fancy stores. Dolce and Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Armani, Gucci… From here we stumbled upon the Duomo. Which you can’t really stable upon because it’s GIGANTIC! From there, we headed to dinner. Our favorite restaurant. IL Cantastorie. We were treated like family here, and the food was so wonderful. definitely order the Bruschetta for a starter. I would give more food recommendations, but really, just order anything. It will be good. We walked over to Mercato Centrale. I didn’t get any pictures because I was too hungry to care, but it’s a beautiful open marketplace. I wanted to spend hours there! This is where we bought a bunch of noodles and olive oil to take back home with us. The upper floor is a gigantic food court. I tasted my first arancini ball. It’s basically a deep fried rice ball. Obviously I had a million more after that one.
We were in Florence on Palm Sunday. It felt kind of neat since the whole city celebrates it. Church bells are always ringing in Italy, but there was definitely a lot more on Palm Sunday. Since the entire city celebrates the day, absolutely nothing was open. And we decided to get up way, extra early to watch the sun rise over the city from Piazzale Michelangelo It was totally worth it, but nobody was open for breakfast, coffee, shopping. No museums were open. It was a bummer because nothing opened until after 1pm! It was a long morning, but like I said, totally worth it. The walk back to the city was so quite (very unlike Florence)I’m assuming everyone was in church, because it was as if the city was a ghost town. So I took the opportunity to take a few pictures as we chatted and made our way back. We finally found some coffee just outside of the Loggia Dei Lanzi. We just walked around and took in the views for most of our last day. We found a great tasting room called, Enoteca Obsequium. We each had a glass then bought a bottle to take home. We met up with the rest of our group for dinner at the same restaurant we started. Gelato for the last time in Florence, and a full moon for our walk back to our apartment. There were even fireworks off in the distance. I love this city. I hope to go back someday soon! Off to Venice!
**TIP: my final tip for Florence isn’t really a tip (again) but I wanted to share my playlist that got me through the long flights, and sometimes we even just played it while lounging or playing cards (and drinking our market wine…) at the house. It’s oh-so-random, but that’s me 😉