We only had about a day and 1/2 in Florence and it rained a good portion while we were there (thus the drab photos), but I was still glad we got the chance to see a sliver of Florence. Like Rome, I was a bit turned off by all the tourists and street vendors, but getting to see these views made up for the crowded streets.
When we first arrived in Florence, it was late-afternoon and raining. We walked through Piazza Santa Croce & did the perfect activity for a rainy afternoon... we went shopping!
We were definitely enticed by all the Florentine leather goods & jewelry. I got to model a 750 Euro coat at Misuri that felt like butter. I didn't walk away with the jacket, but Zac purchased a new belt & money clip. He had them both stamped with his initials in gold leaf -- practical keepsakes from our time in Florence.
We ended our first evening in Florence with dinner at Casa Toscana where we were served a dinner of local specialties accompanied by a large selection of wines. It was delicious!
Day Two in Florence started bright & early with a guided walking tour of the Academy of Fine Arts where we got to see Michelangelo's David. Photos don't do it an ounce of justice, it's really amazing in "real life" and quite massive.
After that, we wandered throughout Piazza della Signoria.
Then we admired the Florence Cathedral, Giotto's Bell Tower (which we would later climb!), and the Baptistry's heavy bronze "Gate of Paradise"
We decided to get a bird's eye view of Florence & climb Giotto's Bell Tower, which is a free-standing structure that is part of the complex of buildings that make up the Florence Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo. It's 414 steps & is not recommended for people who suffer from heart problems, vertigo, or claustrophobia... but I did it anyway :)
After that trek, we worked up an appetite & had a yummy lunch before exploring more of Florence.
We found the bronze beast who eats the coins of visitors who come asking for good luck & walk away rubbing the snout the pig making it golden & shiny.
Next, we walked over the Ponte Vecchio, which during World War II, was the only bridge across the Arno River that the German's did not destroy.
The bridge is lined with shops on either side, and while we were on it, we happened to catch a parade.
After a full day exploring the city, we enjoyed the taste, smell & hospitality of Tuscany with dinner at Ristorante I Tre Pini, which was easily the BEST MEAL of our entire trip. I am still dreaming about that ravioli in truffle sauce.
Also, they serve the BEST wine I've ever had. We ended up ordering two cases of wine to have shipped home (our favorites were the Italian Sparklers: Volare, Blumond, Splendia -- and all but one bottle is sadly all gone).
My fondest memory in Florence was that meal. Not only was the food & drink spectacular, but the people we were with made it memorable as well.
Up next, Pisa!
Did you read about our time in Rome: here, here and here?
What about Assisi & Venice?
And don't forget about the colorful Burano Island!