European Travel Part 3: Florence

Let’s be real here: Florence is a dream. I think when it comes down to it, I could have spent my whole month of travel in Italy, and a big chunk of that month in Florence. Have any of you guys ever been? If you have, you understand why I feel like I could have stayed the majority of my time in this quaint, walk-able, culture-filled city. For those of you who don’t know, Florence is the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region and birthplace of the Renaissance. It is full of history, art, and rich Italian culture. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s such a convenient city. It is smaller than most of the cities we traveled to. So much so that they didn’t even need a public transportation system! They had buses, but that was about the end of it. Most people walked or biked around the city. You can see the whole thing on foot, easily!

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Our Airbnb was located right on the river pictured above and below. It was the perfect location for us because it was far enough from the hustle and bustle of the city center for it to be quiet at nights and peaceful in the mornings. It was only a short 15 minute walk into the main part of Florence. We stayed at a bed and breakfast called Residenza Il Maggio. It was a small bed and breakfast run by one sweet lady who was always helpful and friendly. The b&b only had about 4 rooms, and breakfast was complimentary every morning! We loved our time at this bed and breakfast.

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Pictured above is the Ponte Vecchio. This is a well-known bridge settled above the Arno River (the main river that runs through Florence). The bridge is filled with tourists and locals alike, shops, vendors, etc. It is a common marketplace in the city.

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One of the best meals we had was in at a small little hole-in-the wall restaurant on the streets of Florence called Osteria San Niccolò. In Italy, or Europe in general, you seldom come across vegetables. It’s a lot of bread and meats and cheese. I practically jumped for joy when I saw this grilled veggie plate on the menu. It was just as good as it looks.

Italy-84Italy-88Italy-90Italy-91Find this photo booth in Florence! Totally worth it and way affordable! ^

Italy-92Italy-94Italy-96Story time! We had the coolest encounter with a well-known Italian artist on one of our last days in the city. It was evening, and the streets were crowding up with people coming out to eat and drink and be with friends that night. Hannah and I were sitting in a grassy area having some Jesus time while Kristie was out roaming around. After about 45 minutes, Kristie came back and told us about this artist that was having an open studio. We jumped at the opportunity to meet the artist she had encountered, and as soon as we stepped into his studio, we were overwhelmed with art, a beautifully messy studio, and a wonderfully friendly artist named Roberto Guarnieri.

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Guarnieri took the time to share some wine, show us his work, tell us about how he started, and even gave us a look off the balcony of his apartment. Quite the studio! Will always remember his hospitality and warmth. If you’re in Florence, give him a visit!

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Our last night in Florence ended with some takeout pizza from Gusta Pizza, a bottle of wine, and dining on the bridge in the middle of Florence. As the sun set over the Arno River, we couldn’t help but reflect on our time in this wonderful little city. It was by far one of our favorites, and we very well could have stayed the rest of the month….or our lives… in this amazing place.

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^The Duomo – a must see!

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^ One of our last nights in Florence happened to be a holiday. We were at dinner and all of a sudden we heard a big boom! The entire restaurant runs outside because everyone (but us) had been anticipating the annual firework show! We stood outside and watched this 30 minute firework show, hand in hand, feeling like the sparkling flames and lights were shimmering and sparkling just for us.

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^ Gelato on the river…every night.

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^ The view from our bed & breakfast’s balcony.

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  • Daily walk along the Arno River. Peaceful, beautiful, and an amazing view of the city, especially if you come from the American Embassy.
  • Rivalta Cafe – seated right along the river, this fun, trendy restaurant has the best happy hour and apertifs. Apertif means a ‘drink before dinner’. At a lot of restaurants, they also serve buffet-style small snacks with these pre-meal drinks. At Rivalta Cafe, if you bought a cocktail, you also got access to their small-snack buffet, which is usually a bunch of small appetizers that will fill you up as a meal! This restaurant also turned into a very social club atmosphere at night!
  • Gusta Pizza – best pizza around. Quick, too! Grab one togo and sit on the bridge to watch the sunset while feasting on italian pizza!
  • Piazza Michelangelo – Must! This overlook is the best view of the city. Bring up a baguette, cheese, meats, and wine for the full experience.
  • Gelato every day.
  • Visit some of the paper stores around the Ponte Vecchio! Florence is known for their hand-made stationary! The marbling is fantastic!
  • Visit the Duomo! It truly is breathtaking. If you’re willing to wait in line, they have tours of the inside!
  •  Do a wine tour! Florence is seated right in/next to Tuscany, which is wine region! I’ll cover our tour next post, but let me tell ya, IT’S A MUST!
  • Rent a bike or scooter. Such a fun way to see the city!
  • See The David! We didn’t make it to this attraction, but just know, it’s here in Florence.

While we were in Italy, we took a few day trips to Tuscany, Cinque Terre, and Venice. I can’t wait to recap these beautiful places in the next post! Thanks for keeping up thus far!

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