We found our place at www.airbnb.com. It was Giada’s Lovely Apartment in the heart of Florence for 40,00 Euros/night for 2. It was such a catch! The apartment was a 5 minute walk from Sta. Maria Novella Station and also a 5-minute walk to the city centre. What more can you ask for? The best part was that it was just on the 2nd floor! At this point of our trip, we already had 3 luggages which was very hard to carry around — the less stairs, the better!
Giada shares her apartment when she’s away. It’s like staying at a friend’s room which made it very cozy. I really recommend her apartment
We left Venice at 10am and arrived in Florence just in time for lunch. Another city another reason for a good lunch! Nik and I always reward ourselves from the tiresome train travels – Fave part! We ate at San Carlo, a restaurant really near the apartment. Another pricey lunch but not as much as our dinner in Venice!
We acquainted ourselves with the city by foot as usual. You’d be stunned by how much walking we do all day and to my dismay not a single pound was shed from my body!! After almost a week in this country, I came to the conclusion that “diet” is impossible to do in Italy with all the irresistible carbs (pastas, pizzas, Paninis) we eat all day.
First stop was Sta Maria Novella Church – only because we stumbled into it while walking to the Duomo from the apartment.
How cool is this??? It took me a while to figure out how they did it.
The official first stop is the Florence Duomo. I used to think that when one says “Duomo” people would unconsciously think of Florence but newsflash, everyone! There are hundreds if not thousands of Duomos (Dome in English) across Italy. Just like how “Notre Dame” isn’t just found in Paris.
The Holy Door that only opens every 25 years
Even just with this building makes you fall inlove with Florence! How picturesque this Gothic Church is!! We walked around the Duomo and enjoyed the shops beside it and found ourselves being drawn in Lindt Chocolate; We couldn’t hold our sugar cravings no longer, so we bought ourselves 2 scoops of Lindt Gelato. Heck! We were in Italy! We could have all the gelato we wanted – no judging allowed!
We didn’t mind where our feet took us since all corners of Florence seems to have a little something up its sleeve and by that I mean all the shops of leather bags, shoes and belts; a museum or church; people sharing their art on the side street and a lot more.
Vespas parked along the streets of Florence
How cute is this shop? It’s very Italian, isn’t it?
We found this fascinatingly odd sculpture while walking around.
Anyone fancy some jewelry?! Go to Ponte Vecchio, the oldest and most famous bridge in Florence. It offers you all the jewelry you could think of from diamonds, to rubies, to gold, to pearls and a lot more.
From there we walked to Piazza della Signora where the Uffizi is located. This museum is the counterpart of the Louvre in Paris. If there are two museums in the world you have to see it must be these two. They hold the finest collection of paintings in the world. Seeing as Niko doesn’t understand fine art as much as I do (I was a fine arts student in college if anyone might ask) and I’ve already been inside once before, I didn’t want to bore him with all the paintings that I have to explain so we passed on seeing the great Uffizi and enjoyed the entertainment found at the piazza instead.
You’ll see all types of side-street performers, people offering to do your caricature, and artists painting the different buildings in Florence.
Piazza dela Signora is where the original statue of David was first displayed. Today, you can see the exact replica of the statue where the original used to be.
Displayed at the Piazza are these really intricate centuries-old sculptures. These sculptures are the Uffizi’s properties. It’s a clever idea that they make you have a little taste of the Uffizi through these sculptures.
They just lovvvve making sculptures of naked men, do they?
Lesty Rodriguez!! ❤
We didn’t realize we were worn-out until we sat down and listened to an open performance by a common Italian man singing American songs on the street. I would have wanted to get a bottle of wine and sat there all evening listening to him but our tummies were protesting!
We couldn’t be bothered by eating out so went to a deli right across the apartment and bought ourselves a sandwhich and a bottle of wine at the mini store beside. – Didn’t I tell you the location of our apartment was the best? We ate at the apartment and dropped dead right after!
After our very much-needed rest, we had another day to explore this enchanted city. We walked passed a store to buy water but we got curious with the other things they had. They apparently also sold sandwiches; any sandwich you wanted! We decided to get a turkey and salami sandwich for me and a roast beef sandwich for Niks; this was our lunch today. We were now equipped with food and water and we were off to see the city.
First stop was to see Michaelangelo’s David at the Academia Gallery but once again all the shops we passed by on the way diverted our attention. I almost went crazy with all the leather bags and Niko with all the shoes. I had to stop him before he even opens his wallet because we had to see David first.
The last two photos were stolen from the internet. We forgot to take photos of the market because we were too focused on the bags.
We lined up for an hr and a half to go in the museum. It rained a few times so I made friends with a girl who didn’t know English because she had an umbrella. We finished our sandwiches not because of hunger but most probably because of boredom.
Can you sense our boredom??? We just had to think of random things to do to kill the time.
So I came to realize, if you aren’t an artist or not a big fan of arts, You might want to skip this gallery. Why? I have 3 reasons, #1 let’s face it, you’re only there to see “David” so it’s quite a hefty admission fee for one piece of art. Mind you, there are other things too but very incomparable to “David”. #2 You line up for almost 2 hours to see David for 20 minutes, see the other things in there for another 10 just so you wouldn’t feel guilty and then you head right back out again; and #3 Just see the exact replicas — there is one at Piazza dela Signora and another one at Pizzale Michelangelo.
So after seeing David’s god-like body, we walked to the other side of the bridge. We walked halfway up to Piazzale Michelangelo but we got hungry AGAIN so we went in a restaurant that said “Happy Hour Pizza” and got ourselves the most delicious margarita pizza I’ve ever tasted. Who new tomato and cheese pizza could flavor so well?
With our happy bellies, we were energized again to walk all the way up 200 something steps to see the entire city of Firenze from the Piazzale Michelangelo where the 2nd replica of David is. To our luck, the rain caught us right when we reached the last few steps and I had no umbrella. So we were soaked in the rain!!
In Florence, anyone can get a perfect cityscape shot at Piazzale Michelangelo, which overlooks Florence from the hills. It’s an amazing hike up to the top where you can see THE best view of Florence you could possibly imagine. Not up for the hike? Take the bus up the hill and walk back down passing through the Japanese Garden.
Soaked in the rain or not, it didn’t stop us from taking the photos of this mind blowing view of this magnificent city. Just look at this view! All worth the strenuous hike up the hill and the getting wet by the rain, dont you think?
The walk down didn’t get any better than the walk up. The rain teased us even more… Where are those darn crappy-umbrella selling guys when you need them?! We met up with friends from Sydney and showed them a bit of Florence. We did exactly what we did yesterday but I didn’t mind seeing the Duomo again, that will never ever get old!
Meet my brother-in-law’s Sister, Myza and her daughter, Kya. So good to see familiar faces in an unfamiliar place.
I find this photo so funny because of the illusion that Niko has white hair.
We chose the first restaurant we saw. The food was so good! Just look at these mussels.
Florence by day is beautiful, at night it sparkles.
Day trip to Pisa
We met up with Myza and Kya at the Station in the morning and took the train to Pisa. So what stands between you and seeing the leaning tower? NOTHING!! It’s only 100km away and that’s only an hour train ride. There is a train to Pisa all day long and a one-way ticket without reservation will cost 7 Euros in 2nd class, which is what we took. You must remember to validate your ticket before boarding the train and it’s free seating! There are so many trains to Pisa from Florence every hour so you’ll not miss it at all.
The Leaning Tower is found at Campo dei Miracoli. Its only a 5 minute walk from the train station.
Forgive us for the utterly cheesy photos but I don’t regret them at all. – haha! :p
It only took us 1 1/2 hours for the entire stay at Pisa. We had our obligatory leaning tower pose and our cheesy photos; we had a picnic under the rain right where Niko is standing on the photo above; we went to the little shops found almost everywhere at the Piazza and we even had Mcdonalds. We went back to Florence at 3pm which gave us enough time for last minute site seeing.
Last minute shopping spree at Mercato Nouvo. We had to buy our mothers genuine leather hand bags from Florence or else we wouldn’t be allowed back in the country (I’m kidding!). Niko really did get crazy with all the leather shoes – He bought 3 pairs. Me on the other hand just bought myself a wallet and leather coin purses for my friends.
This little piggy right here is one famous fella in Florence. Probably almost as famous as David only he comes for free. The reason for his gold nose is because people rub it everyday, put a coin in his mouth and let it fall. It is said that if the coin falls inside the pit, it will bring you prosperity in life and you will be back in Florence. Our coin went in!! That means I am definitely going back to Florence and that time, it will only be for shopping.
Train to Rome
We took the 5pm train out of this city for our next and final destination. It was really hard to say goodbye. This was our very last train ride for this journey. The last stretch of our adventure and you have no idea how said i am to even say that.
Our usual train food. Crackers, cheese, prosciutto, French bread and a bottle of wine.
We were off to the most awaited destination! — Rome
(June 08 – 10, 2013)