Our next stop in the Tour d’Italia was none other than Florence. Some exciting news!!! I’ve recently teamed up with ShopStyle – one of the BEST shopping sites where I can create lists of clothing, products, and home goods that I own or would LOVE to own to share with you all! You can purchase directly from the links in my post, or head to my page: Miss AK’s ShopStyle Looks to check out my entire collection. I’ve created an Italy lookbook including some of the pieces or like pieces that I wore. If you’re taking a similar trip hopefully I can help with some of the fashion guesswork!
We took a train (after another fun water taxi ride) from Venice right into the heart of the city.
It was straight to the hotel for a quick refresher and then yes, you guessed it…GELATO time!
Our favorite gelato spot was definitely Venchi. I’m usually not into chains (and Venchi is a chain/they are EVERYWHERE), but they have some seriously good gelato. I guess that’s why there are so many of them!
After our sweet treat break, it was back to the hotel for a guided tour. We first stopped at the Plazzo Vecchio. We were next able to see one of the sites I was most anxious to see, Michelangelo’s David (not the replica in the Plazzo Vecchio, de real McCoy). I didn’t take any pictures inside, I really feel that some of these sites are too beautiful to be captured, especially by an amateur photographer like myself. The sculpture is absolutely stunning. And a must see. I’m not a big art or history buff (I know, shoot me, OK) but, I know enough to know that this is truly legendary.
We wandered the streets with our guide and were privileged enough to sample some delish homemade pastries while watching some of the incredible marble mosaic artwork being made that Florence is known for. Next, we stopped at Gilly for aperetivo (cocktails & small bites). Gilly is a beautiful café, bakery & bar that specialized in beautiful chocolates and candies. It is a place you MUST stop at if you’re in the city.
The dinner we had our first night in Florence is tied for first place as being my favorite dinner in Italy (lol I know, I’m a nerd). We went to Osteitis de Benchi which has wonderful pasta dishes, but is known for their steak. I know, steak in Italy but think about it. Florence is known for its leather and where does leather come from…cows! Anyway, you order steak by its weight to feed the number of people consuming. We were served one GIANT steak for my brother, dad and I and it was amazing. Seasoned only with salt and pepper, it was incredibly flavorful, and barbarically fun to eat off the wooden slab they served it on.
Matt and I decided to tear up the town that night, and went out to an Irish pub (yep, judge away. I’m Irish, I like to stick with my kind). I finally got my Guinness! I’m not normally a heavy beer drinker but I really wanted to try this out as the Guinness isn’t pasteurized in Europe so it is worlds better than what we get in the US.
Phew! Lights out!
Day Four- Tuscan Countryside
My family was up early to meet our tour guide, we headed out for a day in the Tuscan Countryside. This was also my dad’s birthday! What a way to celebrate – winery tours and the countryside!
Our first stop was at the cutest little winery to start the morning off right. This particular winery also produced saffron and olive oil. And, it had the most incredible view.
We then headed to a little countryside town where we stopped at one of the coolest butcher shops. I even had the pleasure of meeting the owner himself! I apologize if you are weirded out by pictures of meat, I realize this post has a few, but I’m not soooo…hey!
The best part of this day was the family owned winery we stopped at for lunch. It is a young vineyard, but their wines were incredible. I think this was definitely the best Chianti I had on the trip!
The family who owned the winery was absolutely charming. They created an incredible spread for us to accompany each wine, ranging from bruschetta, pasta, vegetables, panzanella, and sweet treats. It was DIVINE. I loved hearing how each wine was named after a family member.
Before leaving the countryside, we stopped in San Giamano for a quick afternoon walk. It is still very medieval, I highly recommend this city if you have kiddos that are really into castles and knights!
It was back to the city for dinner on day four and we decided to take things old school…Pizza in the piazza. We went back to Plazzo Vecchio and had dinner at one of the little pizzerias lining the square (I forget the name of the restaurant, shoot me). The pizza was fantastic, the wine was (still) flowing and there was an orchestra playing. Can you get any more Italian than that??!
Confession: we went back to Venchi for more gelato because why not. Wasn’t mad about it. Not one bit.
Before heading to Rome, we had a full agenda ahead of us to see before leaving beautiful Florence. We visited the Duomo di Firenze or the Duomo. We didn’t climb it, but had enough time to view the beautiful church and learn about some of it’s rich history.
We visited a few additional churches and the Laurentian Library which was designed by Michelangelo. This was a stunning building and the courtyard was one of my favorite sites in Florence.
You’re probably wondering if we left any food or wine in Italy by this point. Alas, it was off to Rome we went!!!
My thoughts on Florence:
-The feel of Florence was my favorite out of the cities I visited. It was a small town city feel. Meaning, the possibilities were endless, but the hustle and bustle wasn’t overwhelming.
-Visiting the countryside was out of this world. I could have stayed just there. The produce came from monks, the wine flowed like water…I mean, what??!
-Oh, and the wine. Nuff said.
Tips and Tricks:
-Today, I’ll talk about the SHOES. Comfortable shoes in Italy (or sightseeing) are a must. Cool and comfortable. If you’re going on a trip like this, I purchased some sandals by Ugg. Unfortunately, they are sold out, but these here , by Pikolinos are a great option. These, also by Pikolinos are adorable, too!I have flat feet, so I was really happy so many shoes with great support options.
-The thing I liked about this vacation was the amount of time I spent active. We walked almost everywhere, which was welcome with all of the eating and drinking. My lower back sometimes bothers me (that’s what I get for 20 years of horseback riding), so it’s important for me to take the time to stretch. A lot of my back pain stems from tight hammies, too. I really loved doing a lying wall stretch at night. Check that link for a photo demonstration, but just simply lie with your legs against the wall. Also great for de-swelling feet, mine did get swollen from time to time.
Phew! This was a longie but hopefully a goodie for you all to read!
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