Monterosso -> Pisa -> Florence
As the proud boyfriend of Alesha Elaine Perrin, it was my solemn duty to drag her from Cinque Terre onto the next destination in our Euro Adventure. She was basically ready to move there forever, and she felt a little cheated that she didn’t get a full 100% beach-lounging day, so it was quite the effort to get her to leave. Unfortunately for her, we had a train to catch and an apartment booked in Florence that night, so we had to hit the road (or the rails, in this case.)
Our train from Monterosso took us back to Pisa, where we had a quick layover. We had a bit of an “American Moment” and grabbed McDonald’s since we were short on time, and then caught our next train to Florence.
Arrival in Florence
Ah, Florence. Capital of Tuscany, birthplace of the Medieval Renaissance in Italy, and to this day is home to an incredible amount of culture and history. Its where the tourists flock by the millions to marvel at the architecture and fashion, and the gelato flows like Starbucks coffee in Downtown Seattle.
Our first impression was that this city is beautiful! Amazing architecture, winding alleyways with shuttered windows, and that classic Italian color palette. Our apartment was across the River Arno from the train station. We were staying about a five-minute walk from Ponte Vecchio (the Old Bridge), which was packed with people on the Friday night we arrived. It’s very cool, there are shops that line both sides of the bridge (mostly jewelry shops) that are held up by stilts. Most things are fancy and expensive in this area.
Past the bridge to the left and through a few more narrow alley ways, we arrived at the front door of our apartment. A lady named Iris came out to meet us and led us up three flights of stairs, down the hallway, through two more doors, into our tiny little studio! It was definitely small, but super cozy.
We went out to grab a glass of red wine and a pizza for dinner, and tucked in for the night (finally watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2… meh).
Florence, Day 1
After a cup of coffee, it was time to check out the Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square!) The highlight here is the Florence Cathedral. We didn’t end up paying for the full tour, but it was very cool from the outside.
We continued walking around the city, found some gelato, and stumbled to the entrance of Bardini/Boboli Gardens right above our apartment. We got a ticket to both and walked up a switchback gravel trail to the top of the Bardini Gardens. There were lots of sculptures and scenery on the way up, and a great view of Florence at the top!
The Boboli gardens were connected, and the highlight was climbing up to a viewpoint looking over the hillsides behind Florence. Our tour through the gardens back down to the city took us through tree tunnels and past all kinds of cool sculptures and water fountains. So pretty!
After wandering around the gardens for a few hours, we stopped in for a nice bottle of Prosecco to cool off.
Florence, Day 2
Right outside our apartment, across the River Arno, was the Galileo Museum. This is a super cool collection of scientific instruments (not just Galileo) that was collected by wealthy Italian ruling/political families in Florence starting in the 1400’s. It was a really interesting collection, including Galileo’s only surviving telescopes (all two of them!), instruments that both proved and illustrated the fundamental laws of physics back in the day… oh and Galileo’s middle finger. Yep. Not really sure why that’s a thing, but we definitely saw it.
After our time there, we went off to find lunch before hiking up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. We found a hole-in-the-wall where I ordered rolled pork/cheese and Alesha got spaghetti carbonara. The waiter came by and instructed Alesha how to eat Italian pasta “the right way” by adding plenty of fresh ground pepper, spreading out the spaghetti evenly around the plate, and twisting the pasta around the fork against the spoon. She pasta’d like a boss.
The hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo was actually surprisingly short, and the view was great!
After hiking back downtown, we decided to do a bit of souvenir shopping (no spoilers here, sorry family), and found a really cool bar called “King Grizzly” where we got some Italian microbrews. For dessert, we headed back over the Ponte Vecchio bridge, and ordered some gelato. We didn’t really check the price before ordering, since it is usually pretty cheap, but it was 20 freaking euro!
Florence, Day 3
We made reservations the previous night to see the Academia Gallery (best known as the home of Michelangelo’s sculpture David). However, our reservation was at 5PM, and we didn’t have any plans before that.
We started off by wandering aimlessly, enjoying the architecture and doing some people watching. We also went on a tour of the Church of Santa Croce, which is notable for being the burial place of Michelangelo, Galileo, etc.
After our church tour, we walked through the square in front of the church and drank an espresso at the bar like locals.
After a bit, it was time to see David at the Academia Gallery! The gallery had a lot of Renaissance Era art, and a small section with musical instruments. It also had a large sculpture room was mostly plaster casts of famous sculptures, which for me personally was a bit underwhelming after seeing freaking DAVID.
We had a few hours to kill before our dinner reservations, so we spent some time in Duomo Square video-calling family.
The fancy dinner itself was mostly really good, except for the main entree (steak) which was way too rare.
Florence, Day 4
We had reservations to see a live performance by a chamber orchestra in the evening! The group was very good, featuring a lead soloist named Marco Lorenzini who was next-level talented.
Our last evening in Florence was very relaxing, and we enjoyed a walk along the River Arno before tucking in for the night.
To see all of the photos from Florence, click here.