Hello Italy

Did I tell you I’m on my way to Florence, Italy today? Yippee!

Ben Blair is presenting a paper at a language learning conference on Friday, so we decided to make a parents-only getaway. Doesn’t that sound romantic? Our dear friends, Audrey & Nic, are taking good care of our children while we’re away. I feel so darn lucky! I plan to eat nothing but pizza and gelato. : )

We’ve never been to Florence before. Any don’t miss recommendations?

Vintage postcard of Florence found here.

81 thoughts on “Hello Italy”

  1. Oh, have a beautiful time…my roomie and I only ate gelato too (mostly because it was summertime and an inexpensive treat. :) We had a hard time not getting lost so we finally gave in and let ourselves get lost in the backstreets…way off the main tourist areas. We found fantastic deals on specialty leather & paper and made some wonderful friends. Enjoy!

  2. You must go to Vivoli for Gelato! It is the best I have ever had! I always did half pistachio and half rice. I know it sounds odd, but it is just heavenly!

    Via dell’ Isola delle Stinche, 7r
    50122 Firenze, Italy
    055 292334

  3. Oh Firenze how I miss you! My husband and I were there for our honeymoon (lune di miele) ten years ago. I accidently drove on a pedestrian bridge, which wasn’t good. Of course you must see all the sights of Florence BUT the most important thing you should do while you are there is to buy Florentine stationery/wrapping paper and Florentine table linens. I wish I could remember the names of the stores we shopped in, I cannot. But I the tablecloths I had made there (then shipped to me) are my favorite treasures and I am still holding on to a few sheets of wrapping paper that I may simply have framed and put on a wall in my house. Enjoy!

  4. My mom just got back from Italy yesterday – so envious of her and you! Florence is just gorgeous. I second the stationary/wrapping paper suggestion – there are lots of lovely journals to be found too. And ask your hotel for a restaurant recommendation that the locals love – my friend and I did this and had one of the best meals of our lives (unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the restaurant).

  5. Florence is so dreamy! My favorites are surely already on your list, but Piazzale Michelangelo is a lovely spot to view the city at sunset. And if you’re looking to burn off a few of those gelato calories, climb the stairs to the top of the Duomo. It’s a stunning treat at the top, but perhaps a little claustrophobic on the way up!

  6. Love florence. The flight in, over the hill towns is awesome. I went to a cooking school there about 5 years ago. Just wander the streets. I found a few great little wooden toy stores and the leather factory was interesting. Great window shopping.

  7. Have a blast! I never get tired of Italy. We will be spending three weeks there this summer. I can’t wait. Good luck to your husband.

  8. Go to the Uffizi! Make reservations/buy tickets online, in advance, so you don’t have to wait in the *long* line in the piazza outside the entrance.

    As long as you avoid gelato that comes in bright colors, you’ll be fine, but I was fond of Vivoli at Via Isola delle Stinche 7, 50122 Firenze, +39 0552 92334.

  9. I went to Florence in August….it’s gorgeous! I’m sure it’ll be really nice this time of year. The gelato is better than you can imagine, so enjoy it as often as possible. Try unique flavors, like fig and mandarin…so good. Of course the best thing to do in a city like Florence is to walk. Walk across the Ponte Vecchio, through the Piazzas, around the Duomo… My one recommendation would be to check out David (*Make a reservation!). He is a truly magnificent naked man. ;-)

  10. Oh man, I LOVE Florence. It’s one of my favorite places in the world! I studied there for a semester in college to I have so many suggestions but I’ll narrow it down to three: 1. Gelato at Festival De Gelato (you’ll find it on a right side corner if you walk from Piazza Della Signoria towards the Duomo).They have about 70 flavors of gelato heaped up in such mouthwatering and beautiful ways (take your camera!). I found their flavors more exciting than what they often offer at the famous Vivoli. 2. Dinner at Aqua Al Duo. This place is popular so have your hotel make a reservation for you. Order the steak with blueberry sauce or their pasta/risotto sampler. Yum. 3. Take the long walk across the Arno River up to San Miniato, an ancient church where the monks sing their Gregorian chants every afternoon between 4 and 5. The music is glorious and the views from up there are enchanting. Enjoy! I’m jealous.

  11. Walk to the top of the Duomo, it’s worth the hike and the small entrance fee. Skip David and look at the replica (there’s a bronze casting just outside the city if you want the full size) and allow more time than you expect if you go to the Uffizi because it’s so packed full of amazingness that you won’t be able to rush!

  12. Ahhh, I did a 3 month language stay in Florence when I was 15. What a beautiful city! Make sure to walk and turn into little streets – you’ll find the unexpected and the beautiful. Also make sure to take the bus up to the hills to get a great view of the city from the top – amazing all those red roofs. Enjoy!

  13. Make sure you eat Ribollita! It’s the best, best bread soup. Only in Tuscany.

    Also a great neighborhood joint is Osteria del Gatto e la Volpe.

    Enjoy – I’m jealous!

  14. I also agree–walk to the top of the Duomo. I also really enjoyed seeing the Baptistery (the octagon building next to the Duomo). The ceiling is completely mosaic gold tiles and it’s breath-taking. It’s worth the small entry fee. Make sure you have a guide tell you about the Bible stories on the ceiling. The mosaic illustrations lead you through the entire Bible!

    Another recommendation is to visit the Palazzo Vecchio and do the “secret passages” behind-the-scenes tour. It’s really neat and you’ll get to visit the palaces’ hidden rooms!

  15. One of my favorite memories of Florence was the Tuscan bike tour we did with wine and olive oil tasting. It was wonderful. We also enjoyed the dinners we had at Trattoria Birreria Centrale. It was a small place near the Duomo, and we went back again the second night for more… Enjoy!

  16. Okay, telling you this is like telling someone to be sure to see the Eiffel Tower when they go to Paris, but I’ll say it anyway–the Ufizzi is a must. And inside you have to see Boticelli’s the birth of Venus and La Primavera–I had seen then countless times in books, but seeing the real thing in front of me took my breath away.

    Have fun!

  17. I’ve never been to Florence, but one of my art history professors told me about a special tour you can take up to the top of the dome of the cathedral in Florence, and I’ve wanted to go ever since. I believe you have to book in advance, though, seeing as they only take a small group at a time.

    He also told the class about where to find the best gelato in Italy – unfortunately I can’t remember!

  18. *sigh* Firenze……………………I agree with Mary. DEFINITELY don’t miss the David (who knew- a naked man!……….so beautiful!!!!!!!) . I felt it was far and beyond the replica-and I’m not into art. It was a spiritual experience (really? a naked man? yep.) And pizza and gelato- yes, eat a couple for me as well. One thing I did when I was there was get up early before most people, when all the shops and stands are setting up and just walk and enjoy. It was probably the most memorable thing about Florence I did (other then the David). I loved the market (mercato) as well. If you like tatting and old-school-almost-lost-arts type of things you can get some beautiful stuff at the market (although you may be able to do the same in France….).

    *sigh* Firenze! I would also suggest Ponte Vecchio once by day and then maybe every night- hand in hand with your husband. Magical. It’ll make you feel like newlyweds.

    Have a great time! I look forward to your “report!”

  19. Florence holds a special place in my heart, we lived there for two years while my husband went to art school. (Our next plan is to move to Paris, that’s how I came across your blog)
    The modern art museum in the Piti Palace is amazing. This is Italian modern art, not American modern art. This being one of my favorites

    There are so many good places to eat, avoid the “center” of the city, better food outside. If your on a small street and see a restaurant off the beaten path, most likely it is delicious :) Florence is beautiful, just take it all in :)

  20. oh, and if you go see the David, pay the 2 extra Euro and make a reservation so you don’t wait in line. Actually, the lines might not be too bad this time of year.

  21. sorry, I keep reading comments and thinking of more things :) If you go up to Piazalla Michelangelo, the church above the the Piazza, is pretty cool. But living in France, I’m sure you see plenty of cool churches.

  22. If you’re not afraid of heights or tight spaces, climb the Duomo. I share this warning from first hand experience :-)

    The Ufizzi Gallery, of course. Be sure to see David… one of my memorable moments in life.

    And San Marco… to see the frescos of Fra Angelico in the monastic cells there… and the famous fresco of the Annunciation… lovely.

    Enjoy wonderful Florence!

  23. The best meal my husband and I had in Florence (and one of the best of our entire trip) was at Il Bronzino. Fantastic dried meats, and the presentation/ritual of wine decanting/pouring was pure art (not to mention the taste itself).

  24. pizza and gelato yes – but dont overlook the pasta! for lunch check out mario’s (officially Fiaschetteria-Trattoria Mario) …on via rosina, 2r. near the mercato, tiny, bustling…DEELISH. the menu is in english up on the wall near the kitchen…there is a fabulous spaghetti dish with some type of fish…you will want to lick the bowl clean!

  25. One of our Favorites! Gelato, delicious but more expensive than in Venice. Despite the 3 or so times we went there We never saw the actual David statue, we didn’t want to do the $ or the wait. The replica was good enough. I have a few purses and a wallet from there and My Hubby got his favorite leather jacket there. The Duomo is cool. Zara store is just off the main square. Everything to eat see and buy is great there.

  26. again, sorry. If you go to Santa Croce, inside the church is a ton of tombs, Dante and Michelangelo being 2 popular ones. Michelangelo’s house is on the way to Santa Croce (depending on which way you go) via Ghibellina, it’s neat to see it and if you do walk passed it, look up on the walls because there is a sign that marks a line that shows how high the water got during the flood of the 1960’s

  27. You must eat at Sergio Gozzi in the market area. Only open for lunch. The best meal you will have in Italy. Finding Sergio’s is not easy, it’s located behind the stands in the San Lorenzo market in front of the San Lorenzo church. There is a single glass door, with a step up, and a framed hand-written menu placed outside the door daily.
    Florence is so romantic…Enjoy!!!

  28. David for sure. And the cathedral dome. The stairs! The view! And please…go see Michaelangelo’s tomb for me? I missed it when we were there in 2004. (We only had 6 hours to spend…something had to be missed.)

  29. I think the area surrounding Florence is MUCH better than Florence. I’d say take a nice long drive around Florence-like an hour or two. It will be worth it!

  30. For a quick sandwich lunch set out to find I Fratellini. The line will be long outside this tiny sandwich shop, but it will be worth the wait!

    Dinner? Check out Buca Dell Orafo. It’s where the locals go, not much English spoken here. Lovely, lovely meal.

    Someone else mentioned the tombs at Santa Croce. Behind this church is a school where people learn how to be leather artisans. Walk around the back on the church and inside the gardens to check it out.

    What I love about everyone’s comments (including mine) is that you could probably reduce Firenze down to two words: Art and Food! Enjoy!

  31. oh my goodness, i am SO jealous! all of Florence is absolutely gorgeous!! just enjoy walks along the Arno and the lovely bridges. MUST see the David, of course, and any other art you have time for. :) have fun!!

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