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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
We also stopped to see the Palazzo Vecchio, which is the town hall of Florence.
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.
A quick Google search took us to Gelateria La Carraia where we sampled two flavors.
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.
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