After a quick stop in Pisa we headed straight to Florence, Italy to spend the rest of the day! We only had two days in Florence but they were jam packed! We headed straight to the hotel to check in and then were dropped off right in the heart of the city in Piazza della Signoria, which is one of the main squares in the town. The Fountain of Neptude, Loggia dei Lanzi, Palazzo Vecchio, a copy of the David Statue, and the Uffizi Gallery are all located in this main square. Our tour manager gave us a few details about some of the churches and the main square and then set us free for the remaining afternoon. First on our list was finding some gelato to snack on. Enzo had given us a recommendation for his favorite gelato place so we decided to check it out. I was looking forward to having my first authentic Italian gelato. The shop we were sent to was tucked back in a side street and was pretty cozy but they had quite the selection of flavors. I ultimately decided on a cone with Nutella, cannoli, and mocha. I wasn’t quite sure about the mocha because I’m not the biggest coffee fan but the lady taking my order said it was one of their most popular flavors so I went with it. The gelato was sooo good! I’m pretty sure I had gelato everyday in Italy!
After grabbing some gelato we walked through the streets for a little looking at all the shops. Florence is known for leather so there are a ton of shops selling all kinds of leather goods – shoes, jackets, purses, gloves- you name it they had it. The independent leather stores seemed to be grouped together and then a few streets over they had all the streets with the designer brands. We also made a quick stop by the Duomo – just a quick look! It was massive- much bigger than I was expecting – and gorgeous. I really like the Tuscan style – the brown and white buildings with the red roof tops. I thought the architecture was beautiful but very surreal because the buildings still seemed like they were from a different century – I thought it was beautiful but it was crazy to think people live and work in a place that looks like that (it was just so different than American cities).
^^ The Duomo in Florence, Italy…pictures don’t do it justice
We still had a few hours left before we had to meet the group for dinner so we decided to go check out the Uffizi Gallery (we debated going to see the Statute of David but thought there would have been too long of a line – we later found out there was no line so we were a little disappointed we didn’t go see it but that just means I’ll have to go back one day!). The Uffizi Gallery is located in the main square where we started the afternoon in Florence. Along the walkway that leads to the museum from the main plaza, were several artists selling watercolor paintings, rice with your name written on it, and name necklaces. M and N both stopped to look at the name necklaces, at first I wasn’t interested but after seeing him make M’s necklace and seeing how cute it was I decided I would get one too. The necklaces were made with silver wire and the guy made them right in front of us. He bent the wire to spell out our names and then attached it to a standard silver necklace chain. They actually turned out super cute and it’s one of my favorite things I got on my trip. After our quick stop for necklaces we went to the museum. It was cool to check out but not really my style of artwork – I prefer Monet (Impressionism) and more modern styles. We only had about 2 hours to spend at the museum before dinner so it was a quick trip but we were able to see almost all of it. One of my favorite part’s of the museum was actually the ceilings – they were painted and decorated very elaborately.
^^The painted ceilings
After the museum we headed to meet the group for dinner. Our tour manager had arranged an authentic Florentine dinner for the group – Florentine steak. Florentine steak is very thinly sliced steak that is cooked very rare. I normally like my steak medium but figured I couldn’t miss out on some good steak while I was here. Dinner started with bread served with olive oil and vinegar followed by mushroom risotto (Italians eat pasta as like an appetizer to the main entree), followed by the Florentine steak. The waiters brought out huge platters of steak for each of the tables. It seriously looked like so much steak for our table of six but we somehow managed to eat it all! It was really good. The steak wasn’t quite as raw as I was expecting; I think it helped that it was sliced thinly rather than served as a whole steak so it was able to cook a little more. The flavor of the steak was really good. It was also served with roasted potatoes which were amazing. I’m not sure if it was just the seasoning or if the potatoes tasted so good because by that point in the trip I had had barely any veggies. It might have been a combination, either way it was amazing. After the steak they even served ice cream for dessert which was not needed with how full I was. It was a great first dinner in Florence.
Following the dinner the group headed to a karaoke bar. Several members of our group sang – there were lots of Australian songs I had never heard of and several rock classics. The California girls decided we needed to sing California Gurls by Katy Perry so I did get suckered into singing a song. I’m a terrible singer but despite my singing abilities it was a good time. The karaoke eventually died down and we headed home for the night. It was a jam packed but fun first night in Florence, Italy!
See part two of my trip to Florence, Italy here!