Florence was jam packed full of tourists! Our hotel was just around the corner from the Duomo, so that was the first place on our list. We waded through the crowds, and in typical Italian style, the overwhelming size of the cathedral was breath taking. It towered over the nearby buildings and was pristine white, compared to the browning buildings surrounding it. It was obviously well cared for. We walked around the cathedral, taking it all in – the intricate carvings of the stone and layered design – while trying to find the perfect perspective for a photo.
Impossible to get it in all one shot from this close! The grandeur of everything in Italy is what makes it so majestic.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the city and scoping out restaurants and bars we needed to visit.
The shopping in Florence seemed quite average… except for the leather market! Good lord, Matt and I bought so much there. It was busy as heck and so warm out. The air was thick with the heat of the air, the heat of the tourists and the smell of leather. But it was totally worth it. I bought a wallet, a handbag and we both bought some belts. We also bought so many gifts for the family. Everything was such good quality – the leather, the stitching and the price was so right.
We took a recommendation from the hotel for dinner and went to a restaurant were we had a pasta starter, followed by a Florentine steak. Big mistake. Florentine steak is HUGE. This one steak must’ve weighed 800 grams, came out in one big steak, and the waiter cut it up in front of you. It was cooked to perfection; dark on the outside, almost crispy, red and juicy on the inside. It was served with freshly poured olive oil and a green side. We ate until our sides were busting (Matt still eyed off dessert).
We took a late walk around the city afterwards, and stumbled upon a wine bar. The owner was very kind and walked us through some of the local red wines. We sat down at a heavy table made out of an old wine barrel and made friends with another tourist couple from Ireland. We swapped rounds until the owner sat down with us to join the fun time we were having – he supplied the wine after that!
The next day we joined a wine tour out in the Tuscany region. It was another bike tour (we had so much fun on the one in Bordeaux). We drove out and collected our bikes. The bikes weren’t the comfortable cruisers that we were accustomed to – they were a little rickety and rusty. That was the first problem. The second problem was the hills. So. Many. Hills. Haha. The first down hill one of the participants on the tour stacked it. I was ok with the downhills, it was the uphills that killed me. But those views, and the delicious wines were worth it.
After a long, tiring and sweaty day, we were super keen for a shower and a sit down. We opted for ANOTHER Florentine steak, and were in bed pretty darn early.
Our last day in Florence we headed to the Uffizi Gallery. The lines wrapped around the entry court three or four times. We were so glad we pre-booked a tour with priority access… but turns out, so did everyone else. Haha. Oh well, we were sure it would be worth the wait. Once we got to the entry and grouped into a tour of 20 people (!!! too many!!!) we were given our ear pieces to listen to the guide. Here is where my frowny face started. I had been on one other ear piece tour in Venice, and vowed to never do it again. I couldn’t hear anything (probably been to too many music festivals), there was static, squealing interference, and there was no human connection. It is just not for me. I tried to enjoy the gallery without the guide. Everything was amazingly beautiful – intricate buildings with the finest details on all walls and ceilings – lovely works of art that must’ve taken years of effort. I was a little sad that I was missing out on the history of some of the more famous pictures though. I’m no art buff.
Our last night we decided to go all out and headed to a highly recommended restaurant. We had a pasta starter, another Florentine steak (they’re that good), and spent a pretty penny on a bottle of wine. The waiter looked after us, sung to us while he was serving us…. it was actually perfect.. Although I couldn’t believe I was eating so much before a week on a sailboat in Croatia. I was going to be a blimp! ….so that’s a yes to dessert.