Firenze

Florence, Italy, Tuscany

My family’s summer trip to Florence. Photos, stories, and bucket list successes


Summer 2010

Instead of staying in a hotel within the city, my family opted to reside in a hotel in Tuscany, on a hill overlooking the city.

Hotel Villa le Rondini

View of Florence from our Tuscan hotel

View of Florence from our Tuscan hotel

Our room felt old, with large sliding glass doors that looked out on a small field of yellow grass and olive trees.

The grounds were beautiful, surrounded by flowers and trees that cast down well-needed shade.

Tuscan hotel, near the front entrance

Tuscan hotel, near the front entrance

Ironically, even though we escaped the noisy streets of the city by residing out in the countryside, the grounds were far from being considered quiet. A constant cacophony of cicadas thrummed away in the Italian summer sun. They were loud, and chirped nonstop until late in the night. I actually liked it, as it added to the overall country soundtrack, but I do wish they would have turned down the volume. Sometimes it was hard to hear each other talk. Luckily, we could drown out (most of) the noise by closing our windows at night.

Strolling around the hotel's grounds at dusk

Strolling around the hotel’s grounds at dusk

This hotel also had an added bonus that our previous Italian stays had been lacking: a pool!

Tuscany pool

Tuscany pool

Jumping into the refreshing hotel pool

Jumping into the refreshing hotel pool

Behind the olive trees, you could also see more of the beautiful view of Firenze.

View of Florence from our Tuscan hotel

View of Florence from our Tuscan hotel

The pool was surrounded by these gorgeous olive trees, as well as plenty of spots to lounge. There was even a small snack bar where you could purchase refreshing drinks, and I sipped on an Italian lemon fizzy soda.

Olive tree by the poolside

Olive tree by the poolside

One of the best parts of staying here, besides the location, was the hotel’s restaurant. We were seated outside, the sun slowly set and the city lights began to come on one by one.

Tuscan Hotel outdoor restaurant.

Tuscan Hotel outdoor restaurant.

The kitchen staff brought out dishes for us to try, and the food was arranged artfully. Unfortunately, all the pictures I could find of the food were blurry, so please enjoy the sunset instead.

The sun sets over the city lights of Florence

The sun sets over the city lights of Florence

During one of our days in Florence, we also got to ride bikes through the Tuscan hills, and we visited wineries along the way. Go here for the extended story.

Seen while being driven into the heart of Florence

Seen while being driven into the heart of Florence

I greatly enjoyed Florence. We spent a lot of time walking through the streets and gardens, taking in everything we could.

Fruit stand in Florence

Fruit stand in Florence

Carriage drivers offered tourists the chance to experience the city by horse-drawn carriage, and I loved seeing the horses add a charismatic element to the city.

Horse-drawn carriages seen in Florence

Horse-drawn carriages seen in Florence

Florence is full of shade-cast alleyways and castle-like architecture, making it the perfect city to explore.

A street market seen in Florence

A street market seen in Florence

We also got to see some famous landmarks, including Ponte Veccino, Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (pictured below), The Accademia Gallery, Piazza della Signoria, and the most striking of all, Piazza del Duomo.

The front entrance of the Florence Cathedral

The front entrance of the Florence Cathedral

The Florence Cathedral’s dome (Duomo) can be spotted from almost anywhere in the city, and because of this, Florence has one of my favorite skylines.

We spent a good deal of time eating Gelato in the Piazza del Duomo, watching pigeons and pedestrians alike.

The golden doors of the Duomo (yes! real gold!) were absolutely stunning.

Baptistery Doors, Florence

Baptistery Doors, Florence

We also visited Piazza della Signoria, which has a myriad of life-size statue replicas (it’s illegal to photograph the real statues, so these ones are meant for tourists to photograph).

The Replica of the Statue of David gets a new hat

The Replica of the Statue of David gets a new hat

Since these weren’t real statues, tourists could climb all around them and take as many ridiculous pictures as they wanted.

Outside of the Museo

Outside of the Museo

We also went in to see the real statues, of course. The Accademia was amongst the smaller museums that I have seen, but it’s contents are worthy of boasting. Unlike the puny piece of artwork Mona Lisa that I was unimpressed with, The Statue of David was worthy of all its praise. Although you could argue that yes, the hands were a bit disproportional, the immense size and miniscule detail in the statue were awe-inspiring. We spent a good amount of time just staring at the marble marvel.

I took a picture with the most ridiculously animated street performer.

Posing with a street performer

Posing with a street performer

After a long day of walking, we were so exhausted that none of us wanted to deal with hunting for a restaurant, so we just plopped ourselves down at a restaurant  in the Piazza. The views were great, as we could see the entire square, statues and all. However, the scent of sewage was prominent throughout the piazza, and the waiters at this restaurant were rude.

All of the monuments were breathtaking, but to me, the best part of visiting a famous city is just strolling through the streets.

Seen in Florence

Seen in Florence

Seen in Florence

Seen in Florence

Seen in Florence

Seen in Florence

We went into shops, walked through parks, and even stopped by Scuola del Cuio, the Firenze School of Leather, where we got to peek in at the students’ work.

Scuola del Cuoio

Scuola del Cuoio

Overall, I absolutely adored Firenze. If you had to make me choose between Florence and Rome, I would have a very tough time deciding, and the only reason that Rome wins out is that it has a few more bucket list destinations.

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