We caught the train from Milan to Florence which took about four hours. We soon found our little guesthouse called Tourist House Liberty which was close to the train station and to the main town area. It was a very grand building decorated with ornate and antique furniture. The room had (very weak) air con which made all the difference as it was very hot in Florence. The first day we arrived about 5pm so after a shower we headed out in search of some food. Trying to keep our costs down as much as possible we found a small takeaway restaurant on the side of the road that did everything from whole roast chickens to vegetables, to pork sandwiches, to polenta cakes. So we ordered some food and sat in a little square area called Piazza Di San Marco in the evening sunshine watching the world go by while we ate. We were both tired from the long train journey and we luckily had a TV in our room so we went back to chill at the hotel and watched some cheesy films.
The first full day in Florence we decided to walk around the city. There is lots to see and do in Florence so if you’re looking to go to Italy to explore, we would suggest that Florence is a good place to start – and then Rome obviously. We had a late breakfast in a pastry and coffee shop on the corner just along from our hotel which wasn’t anything to rave about. Florence seemed to have pretty landmark buildings everywhere you turned.
During our walk around the city we saw Giotto’s Bell Tower and Dome, Bargello Museum, Palazzo Vecchio, The Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Strozzi, Basilica of San Lorenzo and the Church of Santa Maria Novello. We also walked along Ponte Vecchio which was surrounded by very beautiful jewellery shops with their windows full of glistening diamonds and shiny watches.
We also went into H&M to see what bargains we could find in their sale (oh so glamorous!) It’s funny how we were going into shops such as H&M whilst others were going in and out of shops like Prada, Gucci, Giorgio Armani and Roberto Cavalli. For lunch we found a nice little restaurant called Le Botteghe di Donatello right on the edge of the square surrounding Giotto’s Bell Tower and Dome with lovely views of the grand building. The food was reasonably priced, especially for the location, and they did special lunch offers such as lasagne, salad, bruschetta and a drink for around €12. And when we ordered we were happily surprised that the portion sizes were actually enough to fill you up! The walk around Florence pretty much took up most of the day. We also went to the train station to book our tickets to Pisa the next day. Later on we got a light dinner from the street vendor we had been to the night before and found a gym called Klab nearby for an evening workout (which again didn’t have any air con! Pretty much all of the gyms we’ve been to in Europe did not have air con, or if they did they didn’t turn it on! How does everyone train in such heat?)
We had a fridge in the communal area of our hotel so for breakfast the next day we had some cereal and milk which we ate from plastic bowls we had bought from a shop the day before. We then headed to the train station to go to Pisa for the day. You can see our Pisa blog post here.
After our day trip to Pisa, it was our last evening was our last evening in Florence and we wanted to enjoy it so we went back to the restaurant Le Botteghe di Donatello on the edge of the Giotto’s Bell Tower square for some dinner as we had enjoyed it so much the day before. We decided to splash out a little and order a bottle of rose with our meal as we hadn’t really drunk alcohol much in Italy as it was so much money. But a bottle of wine wasn’t too bad at this restaurant so we thought, why not? We really enjoyed our last meal in Florence and afterwards we treated ourselves even more to some gelato. If you get gelato in the centre of the square you will end up paying twice as much so a top tip from us is walk a few feet down the road and you will get much more for your money. And it will still be delicious. It is italy after all! We had been disappointed with Italian food up until we found that restaurant in the square. But the gelato had definitely surpassed our expectations. It was nice to hang out in the square for a while and watch the hustle and bustle of people walking by before we headed back to the hotel to pack for Rome the next day.