Thursday, November 7, 2013

Travel :: Florence, Italy Part II

Oh Florence, how you stole my heart.  The two days we spent with you were fleeting yet magical in so many ways.  We arrived to a city filled with excitement--the 2013 "World Cycling Championships" were taking place there, and many of the streets were closed for bicyclists and pedestrians only.  After checking into our B&B {the centrally-located, quaint Relais Cavalcanti} we set-out on foot to explore the city.  By this point our stomachs were growling so we started walking towards the direction of the San Lorenzo Market.  The blocks surrounding the market were filled with hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of stalls selling leather goods.  Every kind of purse, jacket, wallet, belt, and glove you could imagine was there, and each stall had a very persistent owner who would try to pull you in to get a closer look at their items.  Maybe it was the fact that I was too hungry to really concentrate, but I was so overwhelmed by the whole experience that I managed to get through without buying anything {still kicking myself for not getting one of the gorgeous leather coats--they were so inexpensive!}

After making our way through the stalls we entered the Mercato Centrale {a market in a beautiful cast-iron building from the mid-1800's}, where every type of Tuscan cuisine imaginable {and more} was before us in big glass cases.  We wandered around the massive structure, sampling dozens of different types of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and cheese, before grabbing some roast chicken and couscous.  We took our supplies with us and walked around until we stumbled upon a quiet square that was calling our name -- time for a picnic!  

After our delicious lunch we visited the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella then slowly made our way towards the river and the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, first constructed in 996 A.D.  Although it was absolutely packed with tourists, it didn't take away from the bridges beauty.  It is filled with little {but expensive} jewelry shops, the backs of which can be seen from the river, giving the bridge its unique look.  It was the only Florentinian bridge that was left unharmed by Germans during their retreat in the end of WWII, some saying because of direct orders from Hitler.  

From there we headed to the Boboli Gardens {stopping for gelato on the way, of course}, the elegant and massive formal Italian gardens behind the Pitti Palace.  The Boboli is home to a plethora of beautiful 16th century statues and fountains and also offers one of the best views of Florence in the city.  We spent nearly two hours getting lost in the gardens and visiting the equally beautiful gardens of the Villa Borghese.  Honestly, I probably could have spent the entire day there, but we wanted to make sure we had time to visit the Accademia Gallery before it closed.  We made it there right on time, and were happy to pay the entrance fee {which cost the equivalent of nearly $50 USD} to see Michelangelo's "David."  It was somehow even more breathtaking than I could have even imagined.  It is so BIG, and the domed room he is in showcases his beauty that much more.  We must have spent thirty minutes just admiring the magnificence from different angles, noticing how from one side he looks brave and confident, the other side he still looks like a scared young boy.  It was truly an unforgettable experience.  

Before dinner we visited the uber-swanky "La Terrazza" bar at the top floor of the Hotel Continentale for delicious cocktails and stunning views of city at night.  From there we went to Caffe Coquinarius for dinner.  The service was absolutely terrible {the worst I have ever had in Italy}, but the food was so good that it actually made up for it.  We ate a variety of small plates, but my favorite thing was the pasta.  It was similar to a tortellini and filled with ricotta and fresh pear, served with a pear sauce.  The homemade pasta literally melted in your mouth and the combination of sweet and savory was just out of this world.  

The next day we spent the morning in the Duomo {silly me forgot that my skirt had to cover my knees, so I had to walk around in a blue "cape" all morning that was basically a paper hospital gown} then climbing to the top of the Campanile for a stunning view of the city as well as the famous Dome.  From there we visited the Piazza Della Repubblica and Piazza Della Signoria {home to the beautiful Palazzo Vecchio}, stopping in wonderful paper shops and a little ristorante for pasta al tartufo {truffle pasta} on our way.  We made sure to see the beautiful Basilica di Santa Croce, but instead of going inside we decided to stop at a cafe for cappuccinos and cannolis {a great decision if you ask me}.  After refueling we visited the Palatine Gallery in the Pitti Palace to see the royal apartments and the amazing art collection.  My favorite however was their special Impressionist exhibit from the Musee D'Orsay in Paris, my favorite museum in the world.

  To celebrate our last night in Florence we took a taxi to the Piazzale Michelangelo {home to the best view in Florence}, just in time to grab a bottle of Chianti and watch the sun go down over the city.  We drank wine out of plastic cups and listened to the street performers sing and play guitar.  It couldn't have been a more fantastic way to say goodbye to the beautiful city, and I look forward to the day when we are able to go back and spend even more time getting to know what makes Florence so special.

10 comments:

  1. These photos are stunning, and they make me want to go back to Italy so badly! I used to live in France, and I visited Italy, but never Florence. Maybe next time I'll go there - your pics make me want to!

    thoseghosts

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  2. I loved the outdoor markets in Florence. Its hard to choose a favourite place in Italy but Florence was at the top.

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  3. Oh Firenze! I think my favorite things about Firenze was the pizza, the gelato and tower you climb all the way to tippy top and see the whole city :) Lovely pics- quite an adventure.

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  4. Molly {Dreams in HD}November 12, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    i couldn't agree with you more! the view was amazing and the FOOD...oh my gosh take me back :) thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Molly {Dreams in HD}November 12, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    thank you!

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  6. Molly {Dreams in HD}November 12, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    thanks pete!

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  7. Molly {Dreams in HD}November 12, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    i agree with you, if i ever lived in italy i could definitely see myself in florence :)

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  8. Molly {Dreams in HD}November 12, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    oh living in france sounds like an absolute dream!
    thanks for stopping by :)

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