For whatever reason, I was excited to see Florence, but not as excited as I was for some of our other stops.  Of course, I ending up loving it…or loving the things we did there….or a combination!  Then again, I said I loved every city.  But Florence blew me away in it’s size (or apparent size- the touristy part is not that large, but the winding streets make it feel big!, the things to do and see, the river, the architecture…and the food 😉


After a yummy Italian breakfast (provided by our Airbnb), al fresco, I made a bunch of sandwiches for us to take with us.  After buying 8 sandwiches the day before, I was excited to make our own and the Carrefour Express market nextdoor to the piso made that mission possible.DSC_0394

With 6 sandwiches in tow, we headed out.  Luckily, our Airbnb was super close to the center (practically in the center), so we were able to walk right our door and see everything.DSC_0402

First, we walked along the Arno River, which is a huge river running through Florence, lined with burnt yellow and orange and red colored buildings. DSC_0412 DSC_0434 DSC_0441 DSC_0448ita14

We walked all the way down until we arrived at the Ponte Vecchio, which is a famous bridge lined by jewelry and souvenir shops.  When it was originally built, it was home to butchers and meat sellers.DSC_0470 DSC_0489 DSC_0480

The forecast predicted rain, but luckily it held off throughout our afternoon of exploring.  After looking at the little jewelry stands (with woman standing in each doorway that oddly reminded me of Amsterdam….), we continued to the Florence Cathedral.  Italy (and Europe in general) has no shortage of cathedrals, but this one was incredibly impressive.DSC_0525

One photo can’t even capture a quarter of it.   Construction started in 1296 and was finished in 1436.  How they ever built something so grand during that time completely blows my mind.  We decided not to wait in the massive line out the door though…haha…DSC_0542

We also stopped to see the Palazzo Vecchio, which is the town hall of Florence.DSC_0494 DSC_0503

And did some wandering down the wonderful little streets:DSC_0495 DSC_0540 DSC_0546 DSC_0553

I was super excited to visit the Mercato Centrale (central market), which is a huge complex that sells every day products to the people of Florence on the ground floor and has lots of tasty Italian treats on the second floor for us tourists.

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We split a spinach and cheese arancini (fried risotto ball) which was hot and gooey. DSC_0576

I burned my mouth because I’m a savage and can’t wait.ita11

We stopped for a coffee at a place that had really low prices on their menu posted outside and then learned that’s the price for people who enjoy drinking their coffee standing up.  DSC_0583

After coffee, I decided we better start our mission to find the best gelato in Florence.DSC_0602 DSC_0636  

A quick Google search took us to Gelateria La Carraia where we sampled two flavors.DSC_0641-001DSC_0652 DSC_0644

Look at that spoon…ready and waiting to work!  In my opinion, it was good, but there is certainly better gelato in Italy.  We didn’t have any issues finishing in under 3 minutes, not to worry.  After our gelato, our full bellies fueled us towards Palazzo Pitti, which is a Renaissance palace dating back to 1458.  That particular day, there was a big car expo happening and Luis was in boy heaven.DSC_0665

He almost touched the car and out of nowhere, this guard was like NO TOUCHING!  Cracked me up… the guy was WAITING for it.  DSC_0661

Lastly, we stopped at a supermarkati and bought some ingredients for a light, al-fresco dinner.  We felt very Italian.ita13

Overall tips for Florence (these are provided by someone who studied for a semester there):

  • Have a picnic at Boboli gardens
  • Dante restaurant- students get unlimited free wine and the food is very good
  • Order the Acque A1 2 (by borgello)- the 5 different pasta plate
  • Piazza Santa Croce- it’s where the locals hang out, esp on weekends
  • Via dei Benci (in front of it) has a ton of different bars.  Moyo is one of the best.
  • Go to Soul Kitchen and and order drinks to get appertivos with it.  It’s yummy Italian food
  • Grab a pizza and some wine and watch the sunset on Piazzale Michelangelo