City Guide: Florence

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Florence

The next stop on our journey, was Florence. We took the train from Rome and it was only about an hour and a half ride. We rented an apartment near Palazzo Strozzi, which is a great central location.  We got situated and then headed out to find some lunch at Mercato Centrale. This place is a huge grocery market downstairs and an eatery above. It was amazing! It was like Ponce City Market and Krog Street, but way better. They had so many different options, it was hard to decide. We walked around probably 3 times before we could decide on something. Anna and I ended up getting Lampredotto (lamb stomach) sandwiches from Il Lampredotto. They are supposedly a Florence specialty and the stand had won a bunch of awards for it. 


It was actually really good! It was pretty simple, just the meat that he cooked in a special sauce, spicy sauce, and salsa verde. I highly recommend trying this if you are ever in the area! After lunch, we picked up some groceries for breakfast and headed back to the apartment. For dinner, we decided we were going to pick up pizza and hike to the top of Piazza Michelangelo. On the way, we walked over Pointe de Vecchio and then headed for the pizza.


We got pizza from Gusta Pizza and it was amazing. The line was wrapped around the building outside, but it was worth the wait. We got the margherita pizza and a calzone and the calzone ended up being my favorite! 



The hike up to Piazza Michelangelo was a little tough after a long day of walking (& some of us almost didn't make it), but in the end the view was 100% worth it. We got to see the sunset and the city at night. It was beautiful! 

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On our second day in Florence, we started off early at The Academia Gallery to see the statue of David. I purchased us the Florence Pass (definitely recommend), so we didn't have to wait in any lines. 


David was was bigger than I could of ever imagined! He is an amazing piece of artwork and I am so grateful that I was able to see him in person. He truly was breathtaking! Next, we continued on our museum tours and went to the Uffizi Gallery. Since we had the Florence Pass, we got to skip all of the lines, which was a major time savor because those lines were long. 


The Uffizi Gallery was great and all, but if you aren't super crazy about art, I would skip it. After that, we headed to the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. I wanted to climb to the top of the Duomo, but it was Sunday and it wasn't open. However the bell tower was, so we climbed to the top and got some great views of the city and the Duomo. We also walked into the baptistry and got to see the beautiful ceiling. 





After our climb, we headed for lunch at a place called Signorvino. It sat on the Arno river, looking at the Pointe de Vecchio. We got there right before they started serving lunch, but they were so nice they went ahead and sat us at an open table outside overlooking the river. We enjoyed a long lunch filled with bread, wine, a salad, and a meat, veggie, and cheese plate. 




The food was delicious! I would definitely recommend this place, the view is just spectacular and they have a huge wine list because they are also a wine shop. Next, we headed to the Boboli Gardens. The nice thing about these gardens is that they aren't swarming with tourists and have great views of the city. It wasn't huge, so we only spent about an hour there. We got some great views and got to walk off some of our lunch!




After, we went home to relax and refreshen up before dinner. We had some wine and cheese at a little park before going to dinner at Osteria Santo Spirito


We really wanted some homemade Italian Gnocchi and they had truffle Gnocchi (truffles=life) covered in cheese. They also had pretty good reviews on Trip Advisor, so we decided to give it a try. We wanted to sit outside, but everything was reserved or had people already waiting, so they sat us upstairs. We wanted to have a long relaxing dinner, so we took our time to order everything. We started with wine and bread and just sat and talked. About an hour into our appetizers, they came over and asked if we were ready to order. We told them we were not and they said that they would need the table in about an hour. We quickly ordered and immediately the mood of our dinner changed. The food was delicious (probably best pasta of the whole trip), but the service was just terrible. If you do go here, don't have high expectations for the service. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the food. After dinner, we went and walked around the city some more. We watched the sun set from Ponte Santa Trinita and enjoyed some more wine. 


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For our last day in Florence, we had a Tuscany tour planned. I booked it through Walkabout Florence and the tour was called The Best of Tuscany in One Day. We loaded onto a coach bus and left Florence at 8:30 AM headed towards Siena. On our way, they educated us on the town and what we would be seeing. We loaded off the bus and started with a walking tour. We got to see the town center, where they were setting up for Palio, their famous horse race that they have every July. 




After our tour, we had some free time and we went and got some cappuccinos and relaxed. Our next stop was an organic vineyard, Fattoria Poggio Alloro. We got a tour of the vineyards and then enjoyed a big lunch. We ate at a long table and got to know a lot of the people from our tour. It was a lot of fun! One woman was even a writer from Hollywood! For our meal, we started out with bruschetta and then had pasta with meat sauce, a meat and cheese plate, a salad, and for desert, we got to try some biscotti's. 




Bonus...everything we ate was paired with wine! It was all so amazing and surprisingly light. Before we left, we bought some olive oil, honey, and also got a fig infused balsamic vinegar. Great souvenirs and gifts! Next, we headed to the town of San Gimignano. 




We got to explore the medieval town and Anna and I both ended up finding souvenirs! I got a black fringe clutch and Anna got a black pair of sandals. They were both so cute! Our last stop was Pisa, to see the leaning tower. 


We had about an hour here, so we went and took the traditional touristy picture with the leaning tower and then sat down and enjoyed a cannoli and some wine. 


It was a great day and I would highly recommend the tour through Walkabout Florence. Our tour guide kept things fun and was super helpful with any questions we had! Once we got back into Florence, we decided to get gelato for dinner. 


We went to Gelato Santa Trinita, where the line was wrapped around the building. It was good but no where near as good as the gelato in Rome. Overall, Florence was my favorite city of the whole trip. It is easily walkable and everyone is so friendly! I would love to go back one day and do a tour of the Tuscan vineyards. A girl can dream, right?

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