Wednesday, March 12, 2014

travel guide: florence, italy

Florence Italy Travel

We spent a total of 2 1/2 weeks in Italy and covered
 
&
 Rome
 
I'm starting with a Florence Travel Guide because it was our first stop on our Italian adventure. We also spent the most amount of time in this charming city, and by the end of our stay I had grown quite fond of it!
 
Where we stayed: Located in the heart of the city, the Grand Hotel Baglioni was nice because almost everything was in walking distance. However, I was not impressed with this hotel. Believe it or not, we ended up changing rooms 3 different times. First time was because they put us in a room in the front that, though quite beautiful and charming with that old Italian feel, had construction going on literally right outside our window (they were doing something to the front of the building and had it covered in scaffolding) The construction crews would wake us up with banging, drilling, and hammering every morning around 7a.m. We nicely requested to be moved to a more quiet spot. They then put us at the very back of the hotel in a smaller but still very nice room. We spent one night there, and then woke up the next morning and our ceiling was literally spilling water and our bathroom floor was flooded. The hotel management was extremely unapologetic, but moved us to a new room (my husband had to insist they upgrade us for the inconvenience--both of us extremely irritated by this point) and then the staff never followed up with us after that. I was quite amazed by the lack of customer service and basic understanding of how frustrating the experience had been for us. I expected someone to ask if everything was okay or if the new room was alright, but no one ever did.
 
They are fairly well rated on Trip Advisor and on Booking.com, but we would definitely not stay there again (moral of the story--just always stick with what you know [aka Starwood-for-life])
 
travel florence italy

Okay, now what to do in Florence?! Time for the "to-do list" portion of this Florence Travel Guide.
It's such a lively city--full of good food, diversity, shopping, and historic sites.
 
We began with a stop at Duomo- Cathedral of Santa Maria de Fiore. Located just down the street from our hotel, we found ourselves stopping here quite often. It is just so magnificent, you can't help but stop, stare, and snap a few more pictures. And you can't miss it--it's right in the heart of the city and I believe is the tallest structure around. Trust me, it won't disappoint! Make sure you buy a ticket inside and climb the tower--especially if it's a clear day! Check out their website here.
 

Close up picture of one of the many doorways into the Cathedral.
That detail is incredible, right?!
 

 
Street view of Il Duomo. Whimsical is the best word I can think of to describe that view. I love Florence.
 

The next stop we made was at the Uffizi Gallery. This is a must stop and is often very busy! We were there at probably one of the slowest tourist times of the year, and it was still one of the most popular galleries we visited. If you are going in the spring or summer I would recommend buying your tickets ahead of time (during any time of the year it would probably be the smart way-to-go). It's absolutely stunning. Make sure to give yourself a good amount of time here--It's BIG.
 
You can buy your tickets ahead of time here: http://selectitaly.com/browse/things-to-do/museums
 

This guy is the best travel buddy a girl could ask for.
He's so adventurous and has so much energy. Poor guy had to be patient with me this trip. I wasn't at the same energy-level I usually am...
 (I was 20 weeks pregnant at the time and I was exhausted every day by noon)


 Just around the corner from Uffizi Gallery is Ponte Vecchio.
You've all seen pictures of this famous bridge, and it really is quite a beauty. We were there on a spotty-day. The clouds were pretty grey and we were getting just small glimpses of blue sky but it was still amazing and so picturesque.
(P.S. I have to confess--before ever making it to Italy, I spent quite a few weekends with my family at the Lake Las Vegas Resort where they totally copied this bridge. My first comment to my husband was, "Just like Lake Las Vegas!" He laughed at me and responded, "Pretty sure this one was first.")


Great picture spot! I am so glad I have a lifetime of travel ahead of me with this handsome man.


Not too far from Ponte Vecchio is Piazza della Signoria. This is one of the central squares. There is an old palace across from some Michelangelo copies and other famous sculptures. It's going to be near impossible to explore through Florence and NOT come across Piazza della Signoria. We passed through it on numerous occasions and I loved it every time.  

 



 
We just couldn't get enough pictures here! I was in love with the Fountain of Neptune. And though we never walked through here at night, I hear it's a fun evening destination.
 
Palazzo Vecchio is worth a visit and is right there in Piazza della Signoria.
How dreamy is this picture?!
 
In that same general area is Piazza della Repubblica.
It's also in the heart of ancient Florence. There is a lot of history in that square and it's now known for its quaint little carousel. It's fun for the kids and people watching. And bonus--there is some fun shopping nearby.
 
 Another stop we made in Florence was at the Galleria dell' Accademia. This was a bucket list item for me--home to several of Michelangelo's sculptures and most notably--the famous "David". Walking around the corner of that beautiful gallery and seeing David majestically calling out on the other end of the hall was one of the most memorable moments of my life. It is hands-down something you must experience while in Florence. Again, it's safest and cheapest to get your tickets ahead of time!
Buy tickets here:
 
I also compiled a list of some of our favorite eats from Florence.
SO many yummy choices!
To see that full list--Visit HERE!
 
 

As always, please add any of your own suggestions below in the comments! And if you have any questions, please let me know. In the next two weeks I'll be posting the rest of our stops on our Italian adventure--so stay tuned! Hope you enjoyed this Florence Travel Guide :)


6 comments:

  1. I recently found your blog on pinterest and I am loving all the good information for Italy! My husband and I are planning a trip there this spring and I have found your posts very helpful. But for some reason, I can't see your post about Rome? Thanks for all the good tips!!

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  2. Hi, I found your blog via Pinterest as well! It has been super helpful in helping me prepare for my husband and I's first trip soon! We are visiting Venice, Florence, Rome, and Sorrento. I was wondering what you carried around from day to day? Did you carry a purse, backpack, a small wallet? I have a cross body bag right now I plan to use. Also, any tips on packing? We will be there for 2 weeks at the end of March and I'm afraid I'll overpack. Again, thanks so much for all these posts! :)

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  4. My boys and I are traveling to Italy during Thanksgiving holidays and the week after. Do you think we should go to Cinque Terre for 1 day just to see it? I read what you said and have read other blogs that it is a ghost town but they wanted to see what it looks like?

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  5. I think one of the more romantic cities to visit is Italy. especially in the summer, they are very beautiful places with so much history and culture. I would also suggest you to try taking one of those Vespa tours, especially in the Florence country-side. Riding on the vespa with your partner across the green landscape is actually very thrilling and romantic! Hope this helped!

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