JD and I have always wanted to go to Europe. We debated several countries for our first trip across the pond, mainly Ireland, Scotland, UK, and Italy. Then when we sat down and thought about what we wanted to do over there the conversation went a little like this…”We want to see really cool stuff, eat really good food, and drink really good wine!” Yeah… we’re pretty simply people, but doesn’t that just scream Italy? We thought so. So, thanks to Crossroads Travel and our dear travel agent, Doug, we planned the trip of a lifetime to Florence and Rome, Italy and spent 4 days in each city. Although Rome was amazing, there was just something about Florence that I fell in love with! The culture, the art, the history, the people and of course the food & wine.. everything was just amazing.
OK – I could go on for hours but since pictures say 1,000 words and I took a boat load of them, I’m going to let them tell most of the story.
One of the first things we did when we arrived in Florence was a walking tour of the city. This was so helpful for us as we were able to get our bearings, learn about the city and dogear must-return spots. Our guide for this tour was full of cool city facts..although his English was a little broken and I only picked up about 60% of what he said. Here’s what I did pick up…
The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore absolutely floors you. You honestly walk around the corner and it just hits you with it’s size, beauty and amazing details. We didn’t go inside, since our guide said it’s surprising bare but I’m sorry this picture can’t do it’s size and beauty justice.
Directly across from the Basilica is the Baptistery, which features a bronze door with the most amazing sculpted panels depicting biblical stories. Directly above the doors, are sculptures of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus, which was by far my favorite piece of art we saw on the trip! I have to admit that I cried a little when I first saw this, but I think that’s what good art is suppose to do to you right?
At first glance, I wasn’t very impressed with this building, The Basilica di San Lorenzo, but when our guide told us it was built in 393 AD, I immediately changed my mind. It’s also the burial place of most of the Medici Family, which if you know anything about Florence, know they were the cool kids on the block for many many years. We walked inside but as soon as someone told us we couldn’t talk – we were done. Same reason I refuse to try Bikram yoga… I like talking
Then we saw the David. Ok, Ok…. yes, this is the fake David and no we didn’t see the real one. I was totally fine with this decision until we met this awesome couple on the train who told us that the real one is completely different. Oh well, you see one naked dude, you’ve seen them all right…?
Ahh… the Arno River. We walked across two bridges, but this one was by far the prettiest. Might of had something to do with the fact that all of the shops on the bridge are jewelry shops… My kind of bridge.
So I didn’t take a picture of everything we ate, but I did get a couple of the good stuff. From the very first bite to the last, I was so very impressed with the food. The fresh pasta, bread, tomatoes and olive oil were just delicious. Here are some of my favorites…
More pizza, but my favorite while in Italy. Le Campane, Ristorante Pizzeria also had the best bruschetta in Florence. This place was out of the main tourist area, so JD and I totally felt like locals. Scratch that… I felt like a local. JD is blonde and was kind of blowing my cover
Our favorite meal in Florence was at L’Osteria di Giovanni. We took a gamble and showed up at 7:30 without reservations and luckily they had one spot left. The waiter asked us to follow him down these creepy steps for the non-reservation spots and although a little hesitant we did it. To our surprise we got to sit in the wine cellar, surrounded by dusty wine bottles and century old bricks. It was perfect!
We ended with desert, but since I already look like a fat kid, I’ll let you envision it. This is my way of saying delicious, since I only learned 3 words while over there and they all had something to do with wine and tomatoes…
So I’ve shared my favorite art, my favorite food, and here’s my favorite tour. On Friday, we took an entire day tour of Cinque Terre, on the coast on the Italian Riviera. Although our ferry stopped at all five villages, we only explored #1, #3 and #5. All of the villages, featured beautiful views and these super colorful buildings.
Another awesome thing about Florence was the open markets, that sell just about anything! So, on our last day in Florence, we both picked up a little something to remember this amazing city. JD got a leather wallet, since leather is something Italy is famous for.
Our Italy vacation was simply amazing. Although Florence was my favorite city, we also made some really awesome memories in Rome. Check back for the Rome post soon!