September 26 – 30, 2018
We were on a bit of a “tight” schedule in Italy, as per the Schengen Agreement that limits visa-free tourism in Europe to 90 days (every 180 days), we only had three weeks before we had to get out. So after two too-quick nights in Torbole / north Lake Garda, a place we all agreed we’d return to, we trained south to Florence – or more romantically, Firenze.
It was packed with tourists, but luckily this small city is dense with much to see. For our 4-night stay, our Airbnb was just steps from Piazza Signoria, so we could literally roll out of bed, stumble a block and wander through the statues of the outdoor Uffizi Gallery. The famous wish-granting pig statue and Ponte Vecchio were also close by; gelato-seeking and eating strolling was probably our favorite activity.
As part of our normal routine, we hit the grocery store nearby and stocked up on items for breakfast and cooking at the apartment. The next day, I wondered what the heck I was thinking, as any sumptious food item you could want was just steps away from our front door to grab-and-go cheaply. The kids (and let’s face it, the adults too) would happily eat the best pizza and gelato in the world every single day, which we did.
Having not been to Firenze before, we failed to plan and reserve tickets and tours ahead of time, so we didn’t get to go into the Duomo, but did have a view of it from our bedroom window!
We also didn’t see the real statue of David, but did see two of the replicas, one on the Piazza Signoria and the other overlooking the city on the Piazzale Michelangelo, which was a good climb for us all, and rewarded us with the famously impressive view of the city.
We also are trying to balance the interests of all four of us, so sometimes splitting up works best. One day Wayne and Amelia hit the Uffizi Museum with a tour group.
At the same time Annabelle and I strolled over to Il Mercato Centrale and wandered through kid-height spaghetti and pasta in all kinds of shapes and colors, buckets of olives, and hanging animal body parts. We sampled some gnocchi and of course, the gelato.
One night Amelia and I saw a small orchestra concert in the Church/Auditorium of Santo Stefano al Ponte. The music was beautiful, but with no verbal welcome/introduction of the show or the artists, and no printed program, we struggled to know what they were playing when, besides the recognizable Bach’s Cannon and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (we only counted three seasons actually). I relied on Amelia’s viola-playing experience to help me figure out when to clap, which was VERY confusing. Amelia was too busy counting the people who were falling asleep around us – I think she got up to four.
Wayne and I each got some nice runs in, climbing hills, trying to find our way around ancient walls, and stopping for photos.
The girls really wanted to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, so one of our Florence days was spent taking a day trip there. Amelia blogs about that here!
We left Florence amid the runners of the Firenze Marathon. The girls were embarrased by my clapping and whistling, to which I just cheered on the runners even louder 🙂
On to Roma!
What a great visit to Firenze! I have a picture of Toren next to the same Pinocchio as Annabelle from our trip last year. We also stayed one block behind the piazza, so it was an amazing location.