Here you’ll find travel reports about Florence. Discover travel destinations in Italy of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

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  • Day18

    Day 18 - Florence Arrival

    September 27, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 72 °F

    I love how much fun we're able to have on travel days! We woke up and had our regular Venice breakfast of toast and fresh fruit. Then we said goodbye to Venice, walking to the train station and passing by several fish and fruit markets. Once we arrived in Florence, we had a couple of hours to kill before Airbnb check in, so we decided to wash our clothes at a laundromat and get a couple of slices of pizza and our first Italian gelato (pistachio and chocolate)!! After we checked in, we relaxed for a bit (and I finished my book!) and then we set off for our first Tuscany dinner. The restaurant we found was a tiny mom and pop shop that was definitely a local favorite - no English menu, few tourists, reservations required, and awesome food. They had a special of pasta with fresh shaved truffles, which is what we thought we ordered. Really, we ordered the mushroom pasta, which was awesome, and a steak, which was also awesome. We finished our meal off with a tiramisu and two limoncello shots. Throughout the meal, Tim practiced his newfound Italian skills and the waitress/owner loved it. She was so friendly and the food was so good that we might return on Saturday for our last Florence dinner (and try to actually get the truffle pasta). After we left, we returned to our Airbnb for another night of wine and chess (this time, we had to make chess pieces out of checkers pieces)!! Awesome day, awesome night. Excited to explore Florence tomorrow.Read more

  • Day19

    Day 19 - Florence!

    September 28, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 64 °F

    What a great long day! We woke up at 7:00 (...the first time before 9:00 or 10:00 in days) after staying up a little too late drinking wine and playing Chess. Then we went straight to the Academia Galleria - the museum that holds Michelangelo's David. Walking in and seeing David was absolutely the most moved by (non-musical) art that I've ever been. The 17 foot tall statue was literally breathtaking. We were lucky to have tickets for the earliest slot of the day when the museum was not busy at all. By the time we left an hour or so later after checking out several other statues and works of art, including a cool mini-museum of musical instruments, it was a madhouse.

    Next, we walked over to the Duomo plaza to check out the cathedral, dome, and bell tower. Again, we seemed to beat the crowd and got some cool pictures all around the outside of the buildings. Instead of climbing to the top of the busy Giotto's Tower, we decided to go to the much less touristy (but equal, if not better, panoramic view, from what I read) Tower of Arnolfo at the Palazza Vecchio). The long climb to the top was definitely worth it. We got a great view of all of Florence with no more than 2-4 other people up there at any given time. The coolest part might have been when we were about to head down and the giant bell on the tower struck 11:00 and rang for all of the city to hear.

    After a quick 2nd breakfast or 1st lunch, however you want to look at it, of meat, cheese, and fruit paninis, we headed back to our quiet Airbnb for a nap. We woke up in time to get to the famous Uffizi gallery for our 2:45 ticket. It was pretty amazing seeing artwork from so many famous artists, including 3 of the Ninja Turtles(!!) (Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo - no Donatello pieces), Botticelli, Caravaggio, and so many more. Then we split a pizza for another quick lunch and went back once again for another break before dinner. We had an awesome dinner - a meat and cheese platter to start, then I had the truffle pasta I was craving from last night and Tim had a yummy red pepper basil spaghetti. Now we are back and debating another night of Chess or an early night for another long day tomorrow!

    Tomorrow - day trip to Siena (I think - we keep going back and forth between Siena and Lucca!!)
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  • Day20

    Day 20 - Day Trip to Siena

    September 29, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 64 °F

    We are exhausted! But today was well worth it - Siena was awesome! A beautiful Medieval city in the Tuscan hills. We spent the entire day wandering through alleys and up and down hills. We had an awesome lunch in a several hundred year-old building built into a cave. We climbed 400+ steps to the top of the tower for amazing views of the city and the Tuscan countryside and rolling hills. (I got scared and almost bailed on the tower climb twice, turning around and going back down, until another tourist convinced me to do it - so glad I did!). Then we rode the bus back and watched the end of the sunset on the beautiful journey back to Florence. After a quick pasta dinner, we are ready for bed!Read more

  • Day21

    Day 21-Chianti Wine Tour-Best Night Ever

    September 30, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 61 °F

    Wow...what a night! We started the day with a stroll through the neighborhood and our last Tuscan lunch at a restaurant that a local Italian called the "best restaurant in Florence" (caprese salad, spicy tomato spaghetti, and fried chicken with zucchini flowers...YUM!). Then we made our way to the other side of the river to meet our small group for the Tuscany twilight wine tour. The tour started with a wine tasting in the Florence shop with our guide Paulo, learning all about the different Italian wine designations, the different wine regions of Tuscany, and the proper ways to look at, smell, and taste wine. Then, we set off on a 45 minute ride through the Tuscan countryside to a beautiful winery. We met with the sommelier, Anthony, who was incredibly passionate about wine and everything about it - the soil, the hillside, the valleys, the fungi, the fruit trees, the grapes, the barrels, the acidity, the oxygen, and everything else that goes into a single glass of wine. We did a wine tasting in the basement of the winery, tasting several different levels of aged wine. Then we moved upstairs to a 3+ hour four course meal with bottle after bottle of wine. The first course was cheese with honey, onion quiche, salami, prosciutto, bruschetta, and great with white wine and rose wine. The second course was the best bolognese pasta we've had yet with several different red wine pairings. The third course was a shredded beef with tomato sauce and green beens, with more red wine. And the fourth course was a delicious brownie with powdered sugar. Throughout the entire meal, both Paulo and Anthony and Anthony's wife shared stories and facts about everything from the wine to the food to the history behind the different Tuscan dishes. We tasted wine that had been aged since the 1990s that had the darkest, brown color I have ever seen in wine. I learned more about the flavors of wine and process of wine making than I thought possible in a 6 hour tour (that lasted almost 8 hours). We also got to have a great time with three other couples throughout the journey - a couple from Chicago on their 40th anniversary trip, a couple from San Diego on their honeymoon, and a couple from Boston who had also just recently been married. That whole tour was amazing...probably the highlight of the trip so far. Goodnight! Tomorrow we go south.Read more

  • Day15

    Cooking in Tuscany

    September 22, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 72 °F

    A bit of a lazy day Friday. Linda and I took a hands-on cooking class under the direction of our host Barbara and her mother at Villa Rosa Dei Venti in Creti. We made tiramisu and pasta noodles from scratch. Of course we needed antipasti and the right sauce. After 4 hours or so, we enjoyed the meal (along with wine from their vineyard) with our hosts and their family. It was the best!Read more

  • Day16

    First day in Florence

    September 23, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 63 °F

    Today we drove to the Chiusi train station, dropped off the car and took the train to Florence. We arrived in mid-afternoon and immediately took off for the Uffizi Gallery where we spent a few hours gazing at works by Botticelli, Michaelangelo and da Vinci. Hey, those guys were good - and they all came from this area within the same century! We'll take a tour of Florence tomorrow and look forward to enjoying more of this city's culture.Read more

  • Day285

    Camping Firenze, Florence

    April 7, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    Last night's stopover was only a short distance from Florence so we arrived at Camping Firenze in the morning. We baulked at the €28 a night price, but the site was very easy to find and very close to an excellent cycle track along the River Arno all the way to the city centre. It felt a little like we were back in Germany with this provision for bikes and before we knew it we were hopping off the tandem in the centre of the famous city of art.

    We definitely felt we'd arrived 'up north' as we were struck by the 'sophistication'. People here devoted a lot more time to their appearance and facilities were provided for them to take part in leisure activities like running and cycling to unwind from the daily grind- things we'd rarely seen to this level in regions like Puglia, Calabria and Sicily where many of the jobs were manual and locals had so little to spend on leisure.

    We passed by people painting canvasses, paper and glass on the street. Many pieces were laid out on the cobbles for tourists to buy and take away with them as the artists produced more at their easels. Making our way to the Cathedral we picked up a medium slice of pizza. At €5 a slice we chose to share it. We'd been used to paying €4 for a whole pizza in the small village pizzarias!

    The Cathedral appeared quite suddenly as we turned a corner. We had differing opinions on its white, pink and green marble striped facade but whether you warmed to it or not, it was incredibly striking. The queue for it was long and slow moving but we persevered, politely declining the sellers that approached us as we waited. 20 minutes later we paid €15 for entry into all the cathedral buildings (the only option was to get this combined ticket). Disappointingly the climb to the dome roof was booked up for the day and while we'd been waiting it became booked up for the next day also. There was no reduction. We climbed the bell tower and were rewarded with sneak previews out the windows on the way up before a brilliant panorama around the central structure at the top. From here we could see the terracotta roof tiles of the dome, shops and houses capping the white or yellow ochre walls. In the piazza below people were milling around, some heading into the octagonal baptistry, standing out from the surrounding structures with its smooth white roof.

    Regaining terra firma we entered the cathedral, much of which was similar to others we'd seen. What did stand out was the beautifully painted ceiling of the dome, depicting concentric rings of people and angels amongst the clouds. Underneath the cathedral floor were relics of a previous building, although we didn't find them that engaging. The real treat was the baptistry that we'd looked down on from the bell tower. Its interior was enchanting. We spent a long time sitting inside the refreshing cool of this white marble building, taking in the golden mosaics on the walls and ceiling and the multicoloured marble mural designs.

    Afterwards we sat in the square listening to live violin and clarinet and eating delicious organic ice cream with the beautiful cathedral towering above us. Will was particularly partial to the Chianti sorbet!

    Wandering around the streets and piazzas, the main thoroughfares were packed but you could turn and be the only people in one of the many small cobbled side streets, overhung with clothes drying on washing lines.
    We found our way to the famous Ponte Vecchio, a bridge supporting small shops whose floors reached out over the river. They sold mainly jewellery and high end fashion, not really our scene but interesting to see.

    We'd booked tickets for the Ufizzi. While we both appreciate art, we wouldn't describe ourselves as art lovers, so rarely go to galleries. However, we couldn't leave Italy without having been to a single one and the Ufizzi was the gallery of galleries. There was a mixture of classic paintings, sculptures and embroidery as well as a modern art exhibition that included video art.
    We saw works by Leonardo DaVinci and other greats but Boticelli's paintings were a highlight for us. His 'Primavera' (Spring) and The Birth of Venus were the most memorable. There was, as you might expect, a huge focus on Christian art which, for us atheists, didn't hold as much interest as it might for those of that religion.

    Vicky, if not Will, found the city incredibly beautiful. However we both had numerous encounters with people who detracted from our experience. In the art gallery we were both physically pushed more than once, people seemed very self centred and would stand blocking the way, or even step in front of us when we were trying to read a display at close quarters. We are glad to have seen the sights and experienced the vibe, but were also glad to be able to cycle back to our comfort zone and settle down for an evening meal at our picnic table with Poppy laid on her rug beside us.
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  • Day17

    Tour of Florence

    September 24, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 63 °F

    So, I met this cute girl named Sparky on the Ponte Vecchio, and we decided to hang out and tour some sights in Florence. (The Ponte Vecchio is the most significant bridge crossing the Arno.) It was a rainy day, but our guide was excellent and we learned quite a bit about the city and it's history. The Florence cathedral was incredible.
    We also went to the Galleria Dell Academia and saw Michaelangelo's David along with some of his unfinished works. (We saw a small musical instrument museum attached to the Galleria.) I have included a picture of the world's oldest upright piano! (For some reason this impressed me.)
    The rain didn't slow us down, but pre-ordering tickets is a must to avoid hours long queues.
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  • Day18


    September 25, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 66 °F

    We took a ride from Florence to Lucca, a very pleasant village about 80 minutes West by train. This is the birthplace of Giacomo Puccini, my favorite operatic composer. We toured the Puccini museum and learned quite a bit about the maestro. We saw some original costumes from "Madame Butterfly" as well as some original compositions with his hand written notes.
    We enjoyed some pizza and beverages and did a little shopping and sightseeing of local churches. Beautiful day. On to a little place we call Rome tomorrow.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Firenze, Florence

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