Sunday, May 3, 2015

Florence - Sunday - 5/3/15

So last night was a blast. Who doesn't like to wake up in the middle of a peaceful night of sleep to 3 drunk girls at 3am? Remember I mentioned the loud pipes surrounding our bed? Well, we laid awake for almost 2 hours while each of these 3 girls took a 30 minute shower somewhere between 3-5am. Did I really travel all the way to Europe for this? Between getting sick, "labor day," and this noise issue, Florence is turning out to be a bit of a nightmare. 

It's simply unfortunate circumstances, and it sucks. Thankfully we fell back asleep and naturally couldn't get out of bed until 10am. It must be because I'm recovering from a cold or because my deep peaceful sleep was rudely interrupted, but I felt so terrible when I woke up.

At breakfast we spotted the 3 girls who were staying next to us. I was shocked they were up and eating before we were! Geez I guess we're not the only ones who love a free breakfast. The girls looked like hell, and sat quietly as they gorged. Serves them right! 

However, it's not their fault that I lost sleep, which I later explained to the hotel employee at the front desk. It was the hotel's fault for renting out rooms with these types of noise issues. The hotel agreed to move us to a different room. So we went up to pack, which was fine, because it'll save us time when we leave for Tuscany tomorrow.  

Luckily all my purchases from the market fit in our bags. I don't think I can do any more shopping on this trip. You're probably wondering about Eric's missing undies. The desk made a few calls and the laundry company is closed today (Sunday). Therefore, first thing tomorrow, they will be in touch before we check out. They're lucky we weren't leaving today! 

After packing, the lady from the front desk came up and escorted us to our new room. We were upgraded to a large and private suite! There were cookies and prosecco waiting as well. That was definitely a nice attempt to make up for our inconveniences, but the truth is, a good nights sleep is priceless and we lost two. At least I know tonight, our last in Florence, will be a great night of sleep. 

Our gift from the hotel - nice touch and the cookies were tasty

Look at how long and narrow this walk-in closet is! Pretty neat

The room was very long

Big shower, no bath

We headed out by 1pm. It was another late start but that's fine because we don't have too much planned. The weather was great and there was barely any wind. We walked by the Duomo and shockingly enough, there was a short line. 

We jumped in the back and this European tourist literally ran and cut right in front of us. He looked so anxious I thought he might pee his pants. He stood so close to the small family in front of us that I almost thought he was part of their group. I continue to be flabbergasted at how inconsiderate people can be. 

The interior of the Duomo was unique because compared to the other churches I've seen, this one was more bare and simplistic. This was intentional in an effort to display the spiritual ideal of medieval and early-Renaissance Florence. 

Interior of the Duomo

I read in the brochure that it took over 150 years to build the Duomo. It's incredible to think these structures were literally built with bare hands and no cranes. Impressive! 

Bell Tower next to the Duomo

On the way to the Boboli Gardens I stopped to take a picture in front of the Santa Croce Church 

Afterwards we headed to the Boboli Gardens. It was noticeably less crowded today. What a relief! We walked along the old brick wall into the vast hills that led to the gardens. It felt like you were walking on a road to a castle, very majestic. 

Majestic roads

Long way up!

The dirt roads are narrow and all the plants are green and healthy. I should warn anyone who tours Florence that there are many attractions that require walking up hills and steps, and there aren't elevators!

We started at the Bardini Gardens. This was included in the entry fee for the Boboli Gardens, but we didn't pay the 7€ ticket price because all "state run" museums are free the first Sunday of every month. Finally, something went right for us! The Bardini gardens are very beautiful and offer spectacular views of the city, so its definitely worth visiting.  

Looking good boy!

View of the Duomo from the Bardini Gardens

Eric taking in the scenery

Do yourself a favor and wear sneakers when you visit the gardens. The pathways are all gravel and your feet will be filthy if you wear sandals. There are also endless hills and steps. The good news is that they have little cafes scattered around so you can always take a break if necessary. I think the Gardens are my favorite part of Florence so far. 

Interesting statues are everywhere

Stairway in the Bardini Gardens

Florence is genuinely an absolutely beautiful city. You'll find that just randomly, it's possible to come across views that take your breathe away. If you remove all the smokers and tourists, I would live here. The Italian countryside, as I mentioned before, is so incredibly pretty. In Florence, there are these amazing views of the mountains from every angle. Then you have the picturesque european low rise buildings, the river, and the quaint bridges. 

Just staring...lost in thought 

Loving the purple flowers

Serene pathway covered in purple flowers

Florence surrounded by mountains 


Great Shot!

The city is on the smaller side and easy to navigate, even for a woman like me who is challenged when it comes to directions and can get lost quickly. And again, the shopping is pretty awesome. Don't forget about that amazing market! It really is a great city to visit, and trumps Rome by a long shot. 

Back to the gardens... We took many photos and I was sure to post one on Instagram later that day. We walked all around and explored the endless little pathways we constantly came across. It wasn't super packed so we found the experience to be unusually peaceful, given the chaos in the city.  

Boboli Gardens

The famous shot in the Boboli Gardens - we walked all the way down

We also walked all the way back up!

This brownish-colored pond was at the bottom of the pathway. The fountain wasn't working...

Eventually we found ourselves at the back of the Pitti Palace which signaled the end of the Boboli Gardens. The Pitti Palace is also a museum and we considered going because it was free entry day. However, even though it was later in the afternoon, the line was long. Forget it. 

Pitti Palace in the background

The grand Pitti Palace

Huge courtyard in back of the Pitti Palace

We navigated our way back to the hotel and over the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge. Eric stopped at a little cafe and we picked up a quick sandwich. It reminded me of the sandwiches I grew up eating at home. My mom or dad would come home from the Italian market at any given time of the day with loaves of Italian bread, meats, cheeses, olives, etc. Standing at the island, we'd all break into the loaf of bread and make impromptu sandwiches with salami and cheese. This sandwich tasted like home and it felt slightly surreal. 

A short while later we were back in our new suite, and decided to indulge in that prosecco. We relaxed for a bit and it felt great. The concierge at our hotel recommended fantastic restaurants throughout our entire visit. Therefore, I knew we were in for another good meal tonight because it was a place they suggested. 

When it was time to leave for dinner we had some prosecco left so we poured the remains in plastic cups and took a walk over to the restaurant, called La Bussola. It had a modern and cool atmosphere and the staff were all friendly. 

Dinner in Florence on our last night

We ordered still water (4€), a half liter of house wine that was really good, grilled vegetables (me trying to be healthy and keep things flowing), pizza which which was topped with fresh sheep cheese from Chianti, cherry tomato, sheep cheese with black pepper chunks, and tuscan wild boar salami. It was perfecto! I know my Dad would have LOVED this pizza! 

Unlike Florence, Rome is known for pizza but the pizza we had there was just okay. This was way better! It really proves that all these reputations about food are bull. You just need to choose restaurants that come highly recommended no matter what the city is known for. 

Last, we had spaghetti with bacon-egg-cream and red wine sauce. We've definitely never had a dish like that before and we both liked it a lot! The chef was very helpful by splitting both the pizza and pasta perfectly in half size portions so we could each have our own plate. 

Overall we were happy campers and the prices weren't bad. The service was slow but we didn't mind at all because we had no where to be! I wanted a break from pictures so there are no food pics from this meal. Sorry!

When we left I noticed there was a Missoni store right across the street! That tickled my fancy because I'm a fan of that designer. Italy sure seems to rule the fashion world. 

I long for the day that I'll own something by Missoni that's not part of their line at Target

It was kind of a long day and we did a lot of walking so I was ready for my rain shower! We went ahead and sent down our room service order for breakfast the next morning. Why not enjoy a meal in our fabulous suite on our last day in Florence? 

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