Ciao from Florence! Babe and I spent four days in this beautiful city in the Spring. We traveled by train from Rome. We spent the first two days on day trips out of the city and the last two exploring. Florence is a great location for day trips it seems!
We arrived at our first Bed & Breakfast. Because we decided after booking that we wanted to stay another night, our initial B&B was already booked up and we switched to a different one for the last night. This ended up being a relief actually. Initially we stayed at La residenza del Proconsolo. Although the location was great, the host was not friendly, the breakfast was continental and we were instructed to check off the items we’d like as well as designate a time for drop off the next morning. We opted for an early breakfast because we had a tour to catch… apparently we were making our choices for our entire stay, so we had an early morning wake up call every day thereafter. On the last night we stayed at Le Camere dei Conti, which was more high-end, very clean and chic. It was located much closer to the train station and a small grocery store where we were able to buy cheap water bottles for the day! The only set back was that the front desk attendant did not speak a word of English, but we got by.
We took a tour thru Tuscany via Walk About Florence. Our legs were about to fall off from all the walking in Rome, so this was a much needed break for our bodies and brains. The majority of the day was spent on the bus, but we had the opportunity to stop into Pisa, Siena and San Gimignano for a leisurely stroll. We ate the best gelato of our entire trip in San Gimignano at Gelateria Dondoli and the tour included lunch on a beautiful vineyard with lots of wine.
We got in late and head to Mercato Centrale Firenze for dinner where we decided on pizza at La pizzeria Sud. I ordered one with sardines on accident (they are everywhere here!) I decided to give it a shot, but it was not my favorite decision. Babe ordered a white pizza and I liked it better!
Another day trip, this time to Cinque Terre! We took the almost 3 hour train to visit these seaside villages. Everyone raved about the area and although it was beautiful, many of the trails have been closed for years due to mudslides and we found ourselves a bit bored of the view. We hiked around and enjoyed sunbathing by the water. We stopped for lunch in Manarola (one of the villages) at Il Porticciolo where I had a pasta dish with pesto (the Italian Riviera is home of pesto!) and babe a prosciutto pizza. My personality is very ‘go-go-go’ and after a day of leisurely exploring Tuscany on our bus tour, I was ready to move. Cinque Terre is much more of a relaxing and enjoying the view type of experience.
When we arrived back in Florence we walked to Osteria All’antico Vinaio for the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten in my life. I added tons of roasted veggies. The sandwiches were huge and cheap and delicious. Is there anything better? *reference my Rome guide if you’re wondering how to order sandwiches in Itlay!
We started the day with the intent of a self-guided tour, but were quickly overwhelmed by how to organize all of the different attractions of the day. We walked by a tour that was starting up and decided to buy some tickets and join them. The tour by Florencetown included all the main sites, tons of history and a gelato. Sweet.
Next we stopped at Pino’s for lunch. More delicious sandwiches, although these were more deli style meats than cured. Cue me adding all the veggies again. Justin preferred these over Osteria All’antico Vinaio , but I didn’t, so you’ll just have to try both!
PS. The Rome guide not only shares helpful tips for ordering sandwiches, but pizza too! Another tip we recieved in Florence included how to shop in the leather market. Ask the vendor to burn the bag. Apparently if it’s actually plastic, they won’t burn it because it would ruin the product, but if it’s leather it can handle the fire.
Piazzale Michelangelo is a short but steep hike up to the square with a beautiful view of the city. There is also a free bus up if you’re unable to make the hike!
Next we adventured back thru the Boboli Gardens. You can purchase tickets online, but we were just playing the day by ear and so we waited in line a bit to buy them. The gardens are a part of the Pitti Palace, but are large enough on their own to spend a few hours wandering. Your ticket also includes entrance to a smaller garden down the road that we did not make it to.
We had a reservation (a week in advance) for dinner at La Giostra. An over-priced restaurant that every American raves about and tells you to order the pear ravioli from. I was underwhelmed. Also everyone there was American.
After dinner we ventured over to Ponte Vecchio. We learned some great history about the bridge on our tour! But I don’t want to spoil it… so you’lll have to inquire! Next to the bridge was an adorable little bakery, Gino’s, where Justin ate the best cannoli of his entire life. He has eaten a lot of cannolis, my friends.
Galleria dell’Accademia the small art museum well known for housing Michelangelo’s sculpture, David. We reserved our tickets a week or two in advance. Beware that to reserve tickets, you request a time slot, but when you receive your tickets, they may NOT be your requested time. When arriving at the museum, you must first stand in line to recieve your physical tickets, then another line to enter. We were about 40 minutes late for our time slot after some chaos with our luggage and waiting in line to receive said tickets… and the staff didn’t even blink. This was a huge relief because when I googled how strict they might be, people were very sassy about it.
We stopped at Osteria Santo Spirito for lunch before the train ride back to Rome for the night. The spaghetti and meatballs were delicious. There was a salad on the menu I almost ordered that was served with horse meat. I questioned the waitress because I was certain I had misinterpreted. Definitely horse meat.
One last gelato for the road! We popped into Gelateria della Passera for babe’s daily scoop (or two).
& we were off to Rome again for an early flight home! Florence is a beautiful city and most appealing for those interested in art. Babe and I are moreso interested in history and architecture and for these reasons, preferred Rome. I hope you enjoy whichever city you choose to adventure!