We arrived in Florence in the afternoon via train from Venice.
(note: book trains in advance to avoid having to take indirect trains because the trains are booked)
We walked from the train to our hotel, The Grand Hotel. We got a beautiful room with these amazing views out to the river.
The inside of our room was gorgeous too. Look at this ceiling!
We then walked over to the Boboli Gardens, behind the Pitti Palace.
We had so much fun walking all around the gardens, enjoying the fountains, statues, flowers, and views...
Then we had to do laundry, so we hunted down a nearby laundry mat and did a load while sipping espresso. (note you can read about our clothes debacle here).
Next we did a bit of research on Trip Adviser and found a restaurant called Il Santo Bevitore near our hotel, so we got dressed for diner and walked across the river. On the way to dinner we stopped to admire the beautiful Tuscan sunset.
Look there's our hotel!
Il Santo Bevitore did not disappoint! In fact, it was the best meal we had on the trip. We loved what we ordered - meats and cheeses, Tuscan tomato soup, carpaccio, and spinach with burrata. The restaurant was definitely not a tourist trap. It was filled with locals and the staff spoke minimal English, so we knew it would be good! We actually sat at the bar and got to watch them cut the fresh meats, which was really cool.
Our second day in Florence, we started off by heading to San Lorenzo Market to look at all the amazing foodstuffs.
San Lorenzo is amazing -- so much fresh fish, fresh veggies, fresh slabs of meat, cured meats, all being cut right there.
We ate the most amazing boiled beef sandwiches on ciabatta bread with chile sauce for breakfast. Random, but sooo delicious!
Then we walked over to the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore -- to the baptistery and the Duomo.
We got in line for the famous Florence Duomo and started the long hike to the top of the Duomo.
We actually had so much fun walking up to the top. It felt like a "behind the scenes" tour of the church.
Half-way up you can see the inside of the dome close-up. So beautiful!
The higher and higher up we went up, the narrower the stairways got. The Mr. didn't fit at all!
Finally we got to the top. SO stunning!
We spent forever up top just admiring the view of the Tuscan hill and the red-roofed buildings.
We also had great view Giotto's bell tower (the campanile)
After the Duomo we went over to the Palazzo Vecchio.
Michelangelo's David =stood at the entrance from 1504 to 1873, when it was moved to the Accademia Gallery. A replica now stands in its place.
We didn't have time to go into the Palazzo, but we enjoyed the Piazza della Signoria in front of Palazzo Vecchio. There are several original statues by famous sculptures from the 1500s there.
We walked across the famous Ponte Veccio bridge, past all the pricey jewelry stores and up a giant hill Piazzale Michelangelo (there were a few espresso and gelato stops along the way)
The view from Piazzale Michelangelo was amazing!
We could see back to the Duomo where we'd been earlier.
We spent a while enjoying the view.
Then we headed back to the Pitti Palace to meet up with a friend of a friend from the US who lives in Florence and go with her to a special Carpaccio and Caravaggio art exhibit.
On the way there we spotted a lively Italian wedding. It looked like so much fun!
After the Museum we went with our friend over to her boyfriend's house to watch the soccer league championship, Munich vs inter Milan, with a group of friends. We ordered pizza and drank beer -- reminded us of watching football with friends in America except this was soccer and everyone was speaking Italian. The people were really nice and we had a great time seeing the European passion for soccer.
Our final day in Florence we slept in and then went to a great panini place near the Uffuzi Museum that gives you a free glass of wine with your panini.
Then we stood in line for the Uffuzi Museum for a while and finally got in.
The Uffuzi was well worth the wait! So many famous artist and famous works of art. Famous artists included Fra Filippo Lippi, Botticelli (The Birth of Venus was amazing to see), Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, and Caravaggio.
Sadly we didn't the real-life David over at the Accademia Museum (but we saw the replica where I used to stand). We'd heard that the David is really the only great art to see at the Accademia Museum, so we decided to go the Uffuzi instead and I think it was the right decision because I loved the Uffuzi. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to go back to Florence sometime!
The we headed to the train station to catch our train to Rome!
Overall, we really loved Florence. It's must less touristy than Venice or Rome, but has so many great old churches, palaces, buildings, and art to see (plus it was less expensive than Venice or Rome). The old buildings with their red roofs set against the rolling Tuscan hills and sky just feel like you're in a beautiful post card.
Next up? Rome!
Just joining the Europe recaps? See them all here.
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