Florence is probably the world’s largest walk in City art gallery. This place has been written drawn and sang about a million times or more and yet there is not one or the sum of all things beautiful dedicated to this place that can truly explain the frenzy around Florence.
Since our last stop was Pisa,one of the old wonders of the world you will find below ….
How to get from Pisa to Florence?
Via 11 /A76 – Heading out through the north of Pisa. We opted for this road as we wanted to make a quick stop in the city of Lucca. This pretty town tucked behind renaissance built ruined walls has plenty of cute old restaurants and opened café terraces. Good for a few hours of site seeing and a glass of wine before driving to Florence. Pop into the tourist office in the square to find about the sites to visit.
Via Firenze – Pisa – Livorno highway – Travel time is a bit shorter but not that much.
As we drove into the city in our Fiat 500 we felt like we were stroking away clumps of paint across a canvas with a small stubbed brush. With every move we made we saw a new scenery past the flood of people dressed in different colors resembling a messy paint pallet.The crowds slowly dispersed and looked like diluted paint merging creating its own new instant fresco.
I admired the view as my poor husband made all effort, trying not to run over anyone, not get fined for driving in a no vehicle zone and circled around a million. Some half hour later we finally arrived at our B&B which was situated right in the heart of the shopping area and guarded by Prada and McQueen on either sides. I instantly felt safe! Though my husband most definitely not.
Parking – The city being tiny and full of tourist parking is a mayhem no doubt. Check this website that gives detailed information on parking. http://www.visitflorence.com/florence-maps/parking-lots-in-florence.html
Top 3 Places to stay:
Hotel Scoti: Owned by a grim Italian man and his very informative and helpful wife. The apartment is in the hippest part of town and in a 16th century Palazzo. Highlight of this b&b has to be the 1708 frescoed living area reception that will leave you staring into space for a few minutes if not hours. Breakfast is at 5euro/per person. (Parking facility is available by a local garage as a pick up and drop svc of your vehicle) http://www.hotelscoti.com
Hotel El Torre Guelfa: ‘The Tower’ This stunning fortress is a 31 room Florentine Palazzo. All rooms are traditionally styled staying true and original of the history of the structure. A walk up the 72 stairs is like a brief walk through the history of Florence. A bit of a small bite on the pocket of 200 euros a night this place is worth every cent you spend. www.hoteltorreguelfa.com
Continentale: The perfect setting for a honeymoon stay. The view from Continentale is to die for. If you are looking to take a trip to heaven while on earth this is it! Luxurious and sophisticated on the inside this is where Old meets new. Get pampered with a couples massage that includes a free view of the river Arno and the orange Tuscan sky. The rooftop bar is maybe the best spot in this part of heaven. Price starts from 300 euros a night. http://www.lungarnocollection.com
Top Sights to see:
- The Uffizi Gallery
- Basilica Di Santa Croce
- Piazza Di Santa Maria Novella
- Museo Di San Marco
- Oltarno : A walk beyond the river Arno to discover masterpiece corner fountains and more
- Piazzale Michaelangelo : Perfect just before sunset to get a view of the entire museum city
- Ponte Vecchio: All that glitters is not gold is definitely not a saying here! The only bridge that wasn’t bombed by the Nazis during the war. This bridge come shopping street is living proof of all the wonderful architecture the world is deprived of post-World War II. Unfortunately the monuments men couldn’t say the others but this one is one worth crossing over.
*You cannot miss seeing the most famous naked man in the world – Statue of David. While we were there he was left out to tan on a hot summer day.
*Note: Carry a shawl or a sarong if you want to walk into all these stunning pieces of art. You may think you are in Italy and fashion is highly appreciated. But there are plenty of fashion police making sure you are dressed civilly to enter a places of worship.
Book Tickets: www.florence-tickets.com (will save time and give you extra time to explore the city)
Museum Timings: Some Museums like the Uffizi and Accademia are closed on Monday however they are open on Sundays. Please check schedules on. For more details on the museums and the opens opened on Monday – www.visitflorence.com/florence-museums/open-on-mondays.html
Top Places to Eat:
Gustapanino: A well know local favorite among the Florentine’s. Small and poky place serving big humongous appetites. The best place for a quick sandwich and wino stop. No seats available here. Get a freshly baked focaccia bread Panini and get going. Location: Via de’ Michelozzi 13/r
Osterio Santo Spritio: Situated on the other side of the river. This place is famous among the locals and tourist. A wide variety of small bites and full meals are available here. You can chose to walk in, enjoy a quick drink and munch or sit and indulge in a fresh bowl of mussels or freshly made pasta. It looks like and old attic with lots of stuff lying around but the food is a true treasure. http://www.osteriasantospirito.it
Enoteca Pinchiorri: This 2 Michelin star restaurant needs no fancy flowery words to describe it. Serving world-class food, the gastronomical wonders created here is what every one should have the opportunity of experiencing. Fitting with all the simple yet dramatic surroundings of Florence. Dress to devour at this Renaissance set palazzo. Stop by for a memorable meal before you say goodbye to this part of the earth. http://www.enotecapinchiorri.it
There is no shortage of bars and restaurants in this city. Serving the stomachs of the world this food haven will leave you confused and strolling down the alleyways several times trying to make a choice of restaurant. Be assured that ‘disappointment’ is a word that does not exist in Florence.
We wandered the streets on the last day trying to grasp in and make as many mental pictures of this unreal life experience we were having. I remember thinking to myself that I couldn’t imagine not going back for some more Florentine in a few years.
In my next post we drive off to Siena where we live in a quaint chic refurbished convent with views of this devastatingly gorgeous old city. From then on its time to explore the wine estates in the region of Chianti, starting with a festival in the small village of Panzano. We encounter the true spirit of simple life, what it means to be Italian but most importantly to do the things that make us happy. We learnt some valuable life lessons from the loveliest old man in town that will share with you in the next post.
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