I say modern Italy as after visiting Naples, that seems to be the only city with a flavour for what “real” Italy is. So long as you can rustle me up a sturdy carbonara and make every word sound sexy, it’s real Italy for me.
Here’s the best bits from our 3 days excursion to Florence!
- I reckon a map isn’t a bad shout here, or a keen sense of direction, OR 2 people that don’t have conflicting ideas on where to go. Usually a good start
- Don’t get the Lindt Hot Chocolate by the Duomo, extremely disappointing!
- Trying to impersonate Assassin’s Creed is difficult, although the buildings replicate it very well
- The must see’s are exactly that, must see’s. The Duomo is architectural wizardry
- The day trip to Siena is certainly worth it if you can tick a city off in a day or two like us crazy kids
- Pisa is also worth a trip but if you aren’t interested in museums, it can be rallied off in half a day, eeeeeasy!
- Actually went to a museum this time! The Uffizi Gallery certainly sets a high precedence for others to follow, worth the $$$$
- Souvenir Maya is a very average hotel at a low price, so is worth a stay for those on a budget.
- Get a drink and watch the sunset at the viewpoint just outside the city, spectacular!
- Don’t use a GoPro camera as your main camera in dark places, it really doesn’t capture anything out of light!
We arrived fairly late and somehow managed to wheel our suitcases on the narrow pavements of Florence, which I believe is it’s infamous characteristic. Our hotel was in one of the traditional buildings cascading around the city, on the 3rd floor, with the thinnest, non-functioning hotel lift around. We carried our suitcases up or should I say “I carried our suitcases up” (who says chivalry is dead!) to find no member of staff around. Twenty minutes later and our host arrived, absolutely trollied and placing us in a room in a hotel around the corner. Not the start we had hoped but turns out he was a lovely chap, just loved a good swill now and again. We even went to the lengths of booking another hotel, then cancelling that because we couldn’t be arsed moving around. This hotel was the Souvenir Maya by the way. The rooms were standard but for the price in central Florence, can’t really complain (5/10).
Our first full day in Florence and where else could we start other than the Duomo. We hopelessly got lost around the streets of Florence which, like most Italian cities, is absolutely not a problem. We bumbled across various beautiful architecture, some of our favourites in Italy, before managing to find the colourful basilica of the duomo. Cool fact: Basilica is the shape of the roofing, not a church, which is the common misconception. The circular domes you see atop various churches in Italy are basilica’s. Even in October, the queues and crowds hopelessly walking into people whilst gazing at their iPhone’s was monstrous. Deservedly so, the Duomo is arguably Italy’s finest architecture, which says a lot with a country so abundant with beauty. (Here’s some bog standard wikipedia info for your perusal!) We didn’t do the full tour, as I dunno if you’ve read but we were on a budget! However we saw another to be flabbergasted. The exterior is divine and the art indoors is outrageous and grand. Gazing to the roof and around whilst wandering in a U shape is nothing short of majestic. There’s the baptistery of St.John next door too which you can enter for a fee but the pièce de résistance is certainly the Duomo. It most certainly isn’t the Lindt hot chocolates located in the plaza, which the less said about is the better!
We then headed to the Uffizi gallery, which is ideally located to a grand assortment of outdoor sculptures and another church. They take their religion rather seriously in Italy! I think we paid €16 each to get in to the Uffizi and these tickets have to be reserved to guarantee a slot inside the museum, or face a horrendously long wait to get in! Even for two people that openly admit to not fully embracing or understanding art and certain parts of history, the Uffizi held our attention for three hours. Scanning the art like true connoisseurs is something we have become accustomed to but we marvelled at some of the treasures on offer. We eavesdropped a fair few times and I reckon a guide would be a good shout here, especially if you’re into all this colouring in stuff… The cafe is a lovely spot for a drink, although we thought it was unsurprisingly extortionate and got a 60 cent shot of water.
We went around the town to see other sites and attractions, even getting one of the thickest ice creams I’ve ever laid my gob around. Florence is infamously known for its ice cream, so get yourself to a gelateria! We even had a stop at the Leather School of Florence, as apparently, that’s a thing!
We left and wandered to the viewpoint along Florence’s canal and strolled over the famous Ponte Vecchio, where we stopped by fellow brits and had light hearted banter over taking each other’s pictures. “I’m a professional, don’t you know?” There’s a nice selection of designer outlets along here to browse or to dent your purse. There are more sites to see this side of the River Arno but we walked, or more accurately, hiked up a decent amount of hills and steps before arriving at Piazzale Michelangelo, where we happened to walk into a wedding! We waited for sunset, unfortunately without a mulled wine or something and watched on in fascination at this gorgeous city. We wandered back to the hotel before getting a bite to eat at l’Brincello on Via Nazionale. Relative decent prices but the service was pretty horrendous, only seeming to be nice to rope us in to the restaurant. They refused to do a slight modification on Rachael’s carbonara which was luke warm when it arrived and the sheer audacity we had to ask to warm it up was sheerly preposterous!
Overall though, a wicked full day in Florence and probably our favourite city on the trip. A truly romantic gem and should be considered on every Italian trip!