Florence, Italy

You may have noticed that earlier this week, I updated my sidebar with links to some of our travel adventures. We’ve done so much exploring this past year that it’s become a recurring topic. So I thought it would be fun to make Travel an official Design Mom column that features daydream destinations, useful tips or products, and reports on our own trips.

Which reminds me, I’ve been wanting to share photos from our trip to Florence for ages. You may remember, Ben Blair was speaking at a conference there, so we turned it into a romantic getaway sans kids. Here’s a little writeup of our 10 favorite things in Florence + lots of photos, in case you’d like to see. (And please let me know if you have any ideas about the travel column. I love your feedback!)

First, the Duomo Cathedral. I loved catching a glimpse of it as we explored the narrow streets.

Until we were close up, I had no idea it was surfaced with colored tiles! I just assumed it was built from the same materials as the cathedrals in France and other northern European countries. But of course, building materials change from region to region. Somehow, it just surprised me!

The main thing I remember is just how massive the building is. Massive I tell you!

We criss-crossed the city by foot lots of times during our explorations and every time we’d get a good shot of the cathedral, my heart rate would sour. It really is stunning.

Second, the open air markets. The weather was chillier than we were expecting, so one of the first things we did was stop to pick up cozy scarves. And though there were tons of scarf options, the big deal was all the leather goods. Bags, belts and bracelets everywhere, in fantastic colors.

Third, the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella. They say it’s 600 years old — the oldest one in Europe!) It was highly recommended by many of you, and we really enjoyed it.

In fact, our scarves, and a little something from the pharmacy were the only souvenirs we brought home. I have several lovely images from the pharmacy, so I’ll share them in another post and show you what we bought!

Fourth, walking, walking, walking. Florence is a great city for strolling and getting a bit lost. There are interesting side streets and grand architecture in every direction.

Throughout the city, we would spot little alcoves in the buildings with statues. It seems to be a favorite Florentine architectural detail.

It’s also fun to arrive at the river and see all the bridges. What a kick it is to cross them and get amazing views of the city. This one is covered in buildings and shops.

Fifth, The David. This image is of a bronze replica that overlooks the city. We weren’t allowed to take photos of the real thing. But oh my goodness! Standing in front of the original marble David I remember thinking: I need to call every person I know and tell them to drop everything and get on a plane right this minute to come and see this sculpture. Have you ever seen the David? Did you feel the same way?

Sixth, taking in the views from Piazzale Michelangelo. It’s a square over-looking the city, and the bronze statue of David, pictured earlier, is there as well.

We arrived at dusk and the light was misty and beautiful. We could have stared at those views for hours. Can you see some of the bridges?

Seventh, climbing up even further to the church above the Piazzale Michelangelo. I can’t remember the church’s name. If you know, remind me and I’ll add it in.

Definitely worth the climb.

Eighth, the Bargello Museum. It’s an excellent sculpture museum and we enjoyed the collection, but my favorite part was the stone plaques attached to the courtyard walls. I wonder what they’re for?

The image of the lion at the very top of this post is also from the same museum.

One funny thing. We misjudged our time and had to skip the Uffizi. Since we had pre-bought tickets, we stopped long enough to find two people waiting in line, and gave the tickets to them. And I snapped this photo on the way out.

Ninth, seeing the city at night. Especially this view from a bridge.

Tenth (and last but not least), we loved the food! Pasta, pizza and at least 10 different stops for gelato, and we were only there for 2 days. : ) By the way, you may have noticed I don’t appear in any of the photos. Usually I man the bigger camera and Ben Blair uses his iPhone (he’s really good!), and that way, we both end up showing up in at least a few shots. But we seem to have lost a whole bunch of his phone images — including me eating lots of gelato. Darn!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the little tour. Have you ever been to Florence? What favorites would you add to our list?

P.S. — Who handles the camera at your house?

65 thoughts on “Florence, Italy”

  1. The David…all I can say is, WOW. The pictures that I’d seen in text books and art books did NOT do it justice! I literally gasped when I turned the corner and saw it at the end of the corridor! And now that I’ve seen it I feel like my description of it does not do it justice either! It’s just a piece of beauty that HAS to be seen to be truly appreciated.

  2. Your post brings back so many wonderful memories of my wedding in Florence. When I was a young girl vacationing in Florence with my family and seeing the brides walk through the streets having just been married, I knew I wanted that to be one day. Fortunately, the dream became a reality. I look forward to taking our kids to Florence one day and showing them the catholic church where their mommy and daddy wed.

  3. What a fabulous few days you must have had! We were there last summer and I have quiet the scandalous story to share about our adventure there regarding the accademia and the statue of David. They let me take a fantastic photo of him, I couldnt beleive it. :) I dont want to hog to much space here, but I am happy to share it if you want. Next time you go, I would highly HIGHLY recomend mama gina’s. Try their risotto or caneloni mama gina. The best food I had in our entire 2 weeks in the country. Thanks for a fun post!!

  4. the church overlooking piazzale michelangelo and florence (my home town!) is…. the basilica di san miniato al monte…. i got married there 4 years ago and now…. we are the happy parents of 3 special and funny kids: luce (2 yrs and 8 months), jacopo (1 yr and 4 months) and pietro (2 months)…

  5. What a treat to glimpse some photos of my favorite city! There is something special about Florence that makes me feel content everytime I step off the train there.

  6. These pictures are fabulous! I lived in Florence for a year after graduate school and it changed my life. I would go back in a second if I could. I used to run in the mornings up to Piazzale Michelangelo – the view is equally fabulous as the sun is coming up. Your last picture of the bridges at night is identical to one that sits on my desk. So lovely!

  7. I’ve been twice. The first time I was running a fever and don’t remember anything of that trip. The second time we stopped over while on a cruise. We rented a car and went there. On the way back to the ship, we got stuck behind a protest and almost missed the ship!

  8. Loved your photos!! we will be there in 2 weeks. I am already in love with this city and what an incredible place. I am going with my husband and 2 kids. I usually man the camera at home. We will be there for 4 1/2 days. I want to know more about the leather bags or see your photos.. as much as I love architecture, I love shoes and bags.
    Thank you for posting…

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