A place that I always wanted to visit was Italy. I didn’t have a specific city in mind, I just knew I had to find my way to Italy at some point. In 2013, we spent a night in Rome then travelled by train to Florence. Taking the train was remarkably easy, I would recommend travelling by train to anyone. Once we got to Florence it was so beautiful and surreal.
We had booked our hotel in advance online after reading countless reviews. We stayed at the Gallery Hotel Art literally steps away from the Ponte Vecchio. This hotel was wonderful. By some stroke of luck (because this never happens to me) our room was upgraded to a suite – what a way to start a holiday. The breakfast was delicious so if you are booking online, check yes to the breakfast option because its worth it!
We didn’t have a set itinerary on what we wanted to do in Florence, so we just explored. Some of my favourite shots from the trip.
One must visit the Il Duomo di Firenze (Florence Cathedral). It was the first place we walked to and everyday we returned to take in its stunning design and beauty. The Cathedral is located in the Piazza del Duomo and is part of a trifecta including the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile.
The Piazza della Signoria is where we found the replica statue of David by Michaelangelo. The original statue is still in Florence, in the Accademia Gallery, but somehow we didn’t make it there. Next time.
Do some shopping. There is an outdoor market, called the Mercato Nuovo, where you can buy all sorts of leather items (not sure if they are real leather or very good knockoffs) and other types of souvenirs. There is a bronze boar fountain on one end that you can pay a visit to. Il Porcellino (Italian for “piglet”) is said to bring good luck to those that rub his snout and drop a coin in his mouth!
Other things I recommend to check out in Florence include walking on the Ponte Vecchio (“old bridge”) where all the jewelry shops are located. The jewelry is primarily yellow gold and is quite expensive, but its fun to window shop. Try the gelato, all the gelato that you can possibly consume as its so yummy. If you have adventurous tastebuds, try lampredotto, which is a Florentine peasant dish, made from the fourth and final stomach of a cow. We tried it and it had an “interesting” taste and flavour to say the least. I also enjoyed visiting the Piazza Santa Croce where one can shop in an evening outdoor market while enjoying some mulled wine. Yes, wine during the day, wine at night, there are no limits in Florence!