After spending three days in Rome, we headed to Florence. We took the high- speed train from Rome to Florence and it was only about an hour trip, which was great. Our hotel was located close to the historic center of Florence, so we took advantage and walked everywhere. We didn’t take a cab the whole time we were in Florence. Not going to lie, by the end of our trip my feet were definitely ready to come back to America and not walk so much!
Florence is full of character and charm and I loved how quant everything felt in the city. It is not as large or spread out as Rome so you really get to enjoy the little things.
Piazzale Michelangelo has one of the best panoramic views of the city. This was one of our first stops in Florence and truly showed us the beauty of the city. On one side you see the city and then to the right you see the Tuscan county side. It is definitely worth the hike up to see this breath taking view. I may have been dripping sweat by the time we got to the top but SO worth it! This Piazzale also has a copy of Michelangelo’s David statue and was dedicated to his works and that is where the Piazzale was named.
As we walked our way into the city center this MASSIVE cathedral appears. It stands tall over the city and is the third largest church in the world. The detailing on the outside of the building is stunning and it is crazy to think how they built something with this detail with out today’s technology. We did not have a chance to view the inside, but the outside speaks for itself.
Meloncello…limoncello’s more delicious cousin! On our first night out, we met the owner at this restaurant who was drinking meloncello and let us taste it. It is so good! When if doubt, pinkies out! We also met a couple from New Zealand that night and the guy was a Houston Rockets fan…talk about a small world!
This restaurant was recommended by a friend and was absolutely delicious! The menu is in all Italian, but our waiter was able to help translate it. This was my favorite restaurant in Florence. We didn’t have a reservation, but I would say to make one since this is a popular spot.
This dish is a game changer. My friend Jen told me about it and I had to try it. I am typically not a big pasta girl but this pasta…to die for. The pasta is stuffed with pears and cheese and will melt in your mouth. I can honestly say I’ve never tasted anything like it before and will now dream about eating it. Do yourself a favor and get this dish if in Florence!
Another restaurant that was recommend to us by a friend that was absolutely delicious. I had the “Filetto al Balsamico” which is a filet mignon with a balsamic reduction sauce. I’m pretty sure I licked my plate clean it was so good. Derek had “Petto di pollo ai Carciofi” which was a chicken breast sautéed with garlic, parsley, and Italian artichokes. I have never seen so many artichokes on a dish and they were so fresh and delicious. They offer an option where you can do a pasta sampler and a meat sampler where they bring you 5 tasting sizes of their most popular pasts and 4 tasting sizes of their most popular meat. A great way to try out the menu! This restaurant is also small so make sure to make a reservation.
Michelangelo was only 26 years old when he sculpted the David and it is truly a work of art. He worked constantly for two years to create a 14-foot statue of David that is one of his most breathtaking masterpieces of marble. The sheer size of the David is what amazes me. The fact that he started from a huge block of marble and created this sculpture is fascinating.
One of our days in Florence Derek and I ventured out to the Tuscan countryside with Tuscany Cycle for a Vespa ride. Our guide Dejan (or as he said we could call him “Borat”) was so funny, accommodating and helpful. He is the owner of the shop and we had the pleasure of going out in the countryside just the three of us. We took about a twenty-minute car ride out to Chianti “Fattoria di Lavacchio”, which is an organic farm that produces its own wine, olive oil, fruits and vegetables. We started off by getting a lesson on how to drive the Vespa’s and then went on our way through the country side. Tuscany is one of the most beautiful and peaceful areas I have ever been. It was so much fun driving the Vespa and getting to view the countryside that way. If I lived in Italy, I would definitely drive one! After we did our Vespa tour we had dinner and wine at the farm that was all fresh and delicious.
The Vespa tour was one of the highlights of our trip and I highly recommend it to you! It was a great way to view the region rather then being on a bus trip. I do say that if you have the time in Florence to definitely make it a priority to get our in the Tuscany region. I think some of these pictures will show you how picturesque and beautiful the area is. Plus, who doesn’t want to taste some delicious wine from a vineyard? 😉
Tips for Florence
- Book your tickets for the Uffizi Gallery and Galleria dell’Academia online and in advance. The Uffizi is one of the most famous museums in the world with the works of Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo di Vinci and Raffaello. The Galleria dell’Academia is where the David is and is not a very big museum. We booked tickets for the Galleria dell’Academia the day we got to Florence and it was booked solid for the next two days. If you go and wait in line, they only let 20 people in every twenty minutes…and that line is LONG. The Uffizi is a bigger museum so the walk up line is not as bad but I still recommend purchasing your tickets before you go.
- Eat at restaurants where the menu is in all Italian. We tried to steer away from tourist trap restaurants and wanted to eat authentic Italian food. We found that the two restaurants we loved the menu was in all Italian and was tucked away from the tourist attractions.
- Use friends recommendations. Every place we went recommended by a friend was awesome. Make sure to ask your friends (or facebook) recommendations of where to go for some of the best spots!
- You will pay for water at every restaurant. It is not free like it is here in America and make sure you classify still water or you will get sparkling. Also, they don’t serve ice with your drinks.
- A lot of coffee shops or cafes have a price for sitting verses standing. They give you the option to stand at the bar and drink your drink and it is cheaper then sitting down. If you are grabbing a quick cappuccino or cafe americano (typical american coffee), this is the way to go and you save some money!
- The foodie in me loved looking in the grocery stores and markets. I loved to see the things they sold and the variety. The Mercato Centrale Firenze was one of my favorite stops. The first floor consists of vendors selling fresh produce, vegetables, fruits, cheeses etc. and the top floor has about twenty restaurants with common seating in the middle (similar to a food court). I loved all the smells and choices available. I highly recommend stopping in here and walking around or having lunch/dinner here.
- Find hotels with great rooftop bars. The Grand Hotel Cavour was recommended to us and it had a stunning view. We went to a few hotels in Rome also for their restaurant or bar to see the view. It is a great way to view the city in a different point of view.