Where we stayed:
If you haven’t noticed yet, my qualifications when booking accommodations are a balance between location, price, and comfort. The airbnb we chose for Florence was a little far on the location situation but good for us in price and comfort. Since Florence is a small city, ‘a little far’ just means more walking. Overall, we liked our apartment and the neighborhood, so if you’re willing to walk or figure out the bus situation, I recommend staying here.
What we did:
Arriving: It’s scary when arriving to a place has it’s own section, but our arrival to Florence was quite notable in our memories, so I have to put it here. In summary, it was a struggle, one of the more frustrating experiences of our trip. We went from my brothers driving us around to a sudden reliance on public transportation and schedules. Gone was our independence and flexibility. Our airbnb hosts helped us secure our train tickets to Florence,
but we somehow were placed in front of the wrong train tracks. So our train came, and went. And we had to figure out our own way, which was plenty of drama and frustration.
On the plus side, if you miss a regional train in Italy, you can get your tickets changed free of charge. Now we know.
Our plan: In Florence, as our first destination without the boys, our goal was to relax and enjoy Italy. At this point we had been traveling for 2 weeks, plowing through countries and daily itineraries at a pretty steady pace. We anticipated while planning that we would need some down time by this point in our travels so we kept our itinerary light, with lots of time for long walks and sitting in parks, people watching. People watching is Vanessa’s favorite thing to do and she planned the Italy portion of our trip, hence why our down day was at a park and not a beach. I like people watching too, but I also like buildings and views, and this city is full of them!
Our first night there we grabbed a quick pizza and gelato to eat in the park (hey, we are in Italy, right?) and headed to Piazzale Michelangelo. It’s just a piazza with a view, a very good view.
The next day we did our share of roaming. We visited Pontevecchio, a bridge with buildings on it.
We also visited the Florence Cathedral, or Il Duomo di Firenze. It was built over the span of hundreds of years by a variety of architects (because they kept dying off) using local marble, which gives it its colors. We didn’t go inside. I realize now, in writing this series, that there were a lot of buildings we didn’t go inside. I’ll need to change that in the future. But this is the past, and we didn’t go in. We just walked around it.
I loved this building. I think I really could look at it all day, except that we stumbled upon it at noon. There is no shade at noon in Italy. We wanted to sit in the shade and people watch but we couldn’t find any shade and we needed the bathroom, so we actually gave up, went back to our apartment for an hour or so, and returned to the streets when the sun (or rather, the earth) had shifted.
Other than our sunny walk through town, our day also included a Renaissance Walking Tour. We had our first walking tour of our Euro trip on our very first day in Prague. It was a wild success and became our go-to option for every subsequent city. In Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance movement, it only made sense to take the Renaissance tour. We learned lots about wealthy rivals and the politics of Italy in the 1400s. It’s weird to imagine that while Anabaptists were being persecuted in Switzerland, Italian families were battling out political manipulation and power struggles, building opulent homes and cathedrals and starting a movement in art and architecture.
For our last meal in Italy (sob) we split pizza and pasta at Eately in Mercato Centrale.
And to end our leisurely day, we strolled home through winding streets and piazzas.
If you are looking for this piazza, it’s Piazza della Repubblica. In my opinion, piazzas with carousels and live music are a win. Sisters who make sweet movies goofy, they are the winners.
Why you should go to Florence:
- If any of the above sounds nice or fun for you.
- It’s any easy to access city that doesn’t feel too entirely overrun with tourists.
- It’s in the Tuscany region and a great access point for vineyard tours, etc. We didn’t take advantage of this because our time there was so short, but it’s an option.
This was our last city destination in Italy and my last post in my daily literary podcast series of Italy. Thanks for tuning in! Come back next week for my regular Tuesday Travel post, which will probably still be about Italy because I have one more thing to say.
This was country 5 of our 6 country Euro Trip. To read a summary of the trip, click here.