Some people shake their head dismissively when I say, “you really can see Rome in a day”.
They might counter by saying you couldn’t see every exhibit and walk down every street and eat at every gelato shop and yes, that’s true.
(These are also the people who broke the news to you about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, etc.; and should be avoided at all costs).
Disputes aside, three whole days was time enough to enjoy Rome and then seek something new. The last thing Mom wanted to do was hop back on a plane, and I didn’t blame her. Instead, we hopped on a high-speed train to Florence, Italy.
For a reasonable price, we were able go Point A to Point B in an hour and a half, peaking out at 253 km/h. That’s about 157 mph. That’s fast. Not to mention the condition of the train itself: clean, well-lit, and with little plug-ins at every seat to charge devices. That’s always a huge amenity in my book.
Italy has the lowest percentage of transmissions from cable television in all of the world’s developed countries, but they have the technology for high-speed trains to every destination imaginable – on the hour. Go figure.
We found our way to our vrbo.com apartment, and were more than pleasantly surprised at how sweet the downtown loft was. In the heart of the Florence, we enjoyed brand new furniture, extremely high wood ceilings, and a rainforest shower. We were also located right above the LUSH body store – so good aromas were always wafting in.
As for Florence itself, you could also see it in a day – though we enjoyed having three. From the famous Duomo that is the skyline of Florence, to the picturesque Ponte Vecchio bridge, to the endless shopping for leather and high-end goods, we savored every minute of Florence.
A couple of the highlights in our book were:
- walking (hiking) to Piazzale Michealangelo
- dinner at Coquinarius
- the San Lorenzo leather market
- touring Tuscany
- a store called Le Sorelle
walking (hiking) to Piazzale Michealangelo
Situated on the other side of the Arno river from the city center, this piazza is a. a beautiful overlook of all of Florence and b. a hellish and seemingly never-ending uphill to reach the scenic terrace. But I’m writing about it, so it’s completely worth it. As a side note, it’s located in the Oltrarno neighborhood which literally means “the other side of the Arno”. Don’t you love when life is simple?
dinner at Coquinarious
In a 600-year old building, my mom and I had one of the best meals I’ve had so far in Italy. Which sounds stupid because I had a salad, but even that was a miracle of spinach, romaine, walnuts, gorgonzola, dried cranberries, pepper and oil. Mom had Asiago ravioli with a broccoli and almond paste, and the chef made us up a small plate of their signature pear and Asiago tortellini. The food was phenomenal, the service was friendly, and the space was cozy.
For other meals, we cooked in our galley kitchen – including my making cheese tortellini with zucchini and tomatoes in a reduced balsamic and a caprese salad. She would say that it was better than Coquinarious because she’s a Mom and she has to, and it wasn’t, but it was good!
the San Lorenzo leather market
We half searched/half stumbled on this market. Surrounding a fantastic indoor food market, four square blocks held the stands upon stands of the most leather goods you’ll ever see in one place. It was a great place to spend an afternoon, and with the friendly attitudes of the vendors we happily scored many great deals. I won’t tell you how much we spent (because my dad would get high blood pressure) or what we bought (because it’s almost all gifts, for you, dear readers), but I will tell you that it was beautifully crafted leather, and that vendors would hold cigarette lighters to the leather to prove the quality. Also I will tell you that my mom screamed the first time that happened.
We took our sunny Saturday and booked a tour through the company Walkabout Florence called the “Best of Tuscany tour”. It was so wonderful that I’m going to post about it later and you’ll have to just wait to find out why we loved it! In literature we call this a cliffhanger, in blogging we call it wanting more page views.
a store called Le Sorelle
Meaning “the sisters”, this cute store has a couple of locations in Tuscany and is run by four sisters. They have the greatest handmade soaps and Uashmama paper bags that you can use for literally anything. Not to mention their Florence store is perfectly decorated with a picture-perfect view of Ponte Vecchio. We went there twice and now have enough soap for approximately five years. You can check their website out by clicking here.
Florence wasn’t exactly free of tourists or those dreaded school groups, but there was a lot to say towards the tranquility we found there. The streets were clean, the air was fresh, and the sunshine was conducive for long walks along the beautiful Arno river. We even saw the rowing club and several scullers!
Once the fashion capital of the world, Florence has now accepted itself as smaller than the big dogs of Europe – but hasn’t lost its elegance and ambiance. The small size doesn’t mean that there is a lack of splendor, but that it has perfected every last inch to create, well, the city you would expect to sit in the heart of Tuscany.
It really was a place to just get away from it all. Couldn’t we all use that?
Ciao, for now.