Friday, June 24, 2016

Italy - Second Leg, Florence

We sadly said goodbye to Rome and boarded our train to Florence.  Our time in Rome went too quickly, we wished we had another day in that city.

This is the view of our hotel in Florence, the Portrait Firenze.  Behind us is the Arno River and the picture was taken from the famous Ponte Vecchio, a bridge with shops built across it, which used to be common.

We opted to have our breakfast delivered daily, it was delicious and a lovely way to start our days.

The Portrait Firenze was small, just 40 rooms, but we loved it.  The staff was friendly and helpful and our room modern and spacious.  I highly recommend it. You can't beat the location.

Our first activity in Florence was a city walking tour.  It was a beautiful day and after our train trip we were ready to stretch our legs and see the city.

We booked our tour, Essential Florence & Academia,  through Italy with Us.  Our guide was born in Florence, and I think really loved her city, unfortunately we could not understand her "English".  She had a very heavy Italian accent.  There was another couple in our tour, from New York, and they couldn't understand her either.  It was frustrating to everyone involved.  Our guide, Lara, finally quit talking and just walked down the streets with us following her like a row of ducks.  I do not recommend Italy with Us, they were not responsive to my complaint of paying for an English speaking tour but not being able to understand the English spoken.

This is the Santa Maria Novella, Florence's first great basilica.   The marble exterior was breathtaking.

For some reason this huge Baptistery was built in front of this church, basically blocking the view and taking up space that would have been better served as an open piazza.  Not understanding what our guide had to say about this, I decided it was the result of too much money and too much arrogance, but that's just my take.

We did not enter either building, which was a disappointment.  I'm not sure if that's a different tour or if our guide had just given up on us at this point.

There was some story about people knocking on this door to get wine, we didn't catch much of it, but here's Ashley trying it out, no luck.

The final stop on our walking tour was seeing Michelangelo's David, he stands 17 feet tall.  The first thing I noticed were how big his hands were, not proportional at all. But it turns out this statue was supposed to be placed along the roofline of the cathedral, so the hands needed to be large so they would be seen from the street level.

It was an amazing piece of art, and I'm thrilled I was able to see it in person, so much better than any picture you'll ever see.

Our first night in Florence we ate dinner at La Bottega del Buon Caffe. Not only was it my favorite meal for the entire trip, it's my favorite meal of all time.

It was a tasting menu, where we had at least 12 courses, each consisting of maybe 2 or 3 bites of the most fresh, amazing, and decadent food I've ever eaten.  I highly recommend this restaurant.  It was small, less than 25 tables, and the kitchen was open to the seating area.  It was fascinating to watch the level of detail and time that was put into making each dish.  It made me appreciate each item all the more.

Day two in Florence was a walking food tour, and it was amazing.  It really made up for the poor walking tour we had the day before.

We toured a market,

had a cheese and wine tasting,

along with 12 other stops where we ate pastries, sandwiches, gelato, and more.  I loved every item.  Most of our samples were from shops that invented the item.

Our tour guide was Alex, besides being a real cutie he was knowledgeable, friendly, and spoke perfect English, even though he too was born in Florence.

The tour was Taste Florence Food Tour and I highly recommend it.  We were given a map and description of each stop, the only food tour in Italy that provided that, but what a help when you want to go back on your own.

I didn't have much room in my suitcase, so for my souvenirs I picked up prints from artists along the streets.  I always selected artists that were painting, it just made it more personal for me.

It was hard for this artist to sell his work, he said a small prayer and kissed each picture as he wrapped it up for me.  I told him I could relate to how hard it was to see one's work go to a new home, but promised him I would cherish the prints, that I too was an artist.

Something must have gotten lost in translation, the next thing I know he's letting me do the painting!  It was a thrill.

For our last night in Florence we ate at Caffe Dell'oro.

It was a very small neighborhood caffe, very personal and quaint.  The staff was so sweet to us. The food was absolutely amazing, their menu changed based on what was fresh at the market.  My favorite dessert of the entire trip was the tiramisu mousse, amazing times ten, make that times 100.  I highly recommend this restaurant.

It was a short stay in Florence, next up Florence, our last leg.


  1. Sorry to hear that your tour guide on your frist day wasn't so great but some tour guides are self-taught and their skills aren't so good then. But the food you had looks all so yummy I#m really hungry now;-)

  2. I love that you ended up painting!! Even if something was lost in translation, what a wonderful memory and trip! :)

  3. Love your commentary on the trip. Nyshma & I pushed this trip up after following you on Instagram. She says it will happen in 2018. I'm not so sure since she and SIL have been talking about baby #2 for next year... I'm thinking more in 3 years. we'll see. In the meantime, I can travel there with your recap!

  4. I am enjoying a recap of your trip through Italy, Thelma! How wonderful you and your daughter got to make this trip together. Is Venice up next??


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