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Melbourne, VIC


Les Petites Choses



Well, it's about time to move some of the travel posts from my old blog to this one so here it goes!

I have always thought that I would love Italy for numerous reasons such as passion for good food, good wine, great culture, and amazing landscapes. Having said that, I have only been to Rome, Pisa, and Cinque Terre. That was enough to give me enough motivation to head on over there again though and Florence was at the very top of my list.

I have had several friends say that their favorite Italian city to visit was Florence. With such glowing reviews, it was hard not to be excited about going here. They were not wrong, the City was gorgeous to photograph and amazing to walk through. Such dedication to the arts and religion, it was unlike any other city in the world that I have visited to date. Just an FYI though, for those people flying in from London, it should be cheaper to fly to Pisa and then take a train to Florence. It might take a little while longer but it will save you close to 30-50% of the cost of a direct flight!

M U S T S E E ‘ S
There are a number of museo’s and galleries in Florence that are well worth seeing. I am the type that enjoys visiting the museums but in moderation. Being a wannabe photographer, I enjoy walking the streets and taking it in first hand. However, galleries and museums such as the Uffizi Gallery (houses the original “Birth of Venus” as well as an abundance of religious paintings and sculptures), the Museo dell’ Opera (includes the original “Gates of Paradise” as well as a smaller collection of sculptures and blue prints for the Duomo and associated cathedral), and the Galleria dell’ Accademia (hosts the original “David”) are all worth seeing. For the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’ Accademia however, you should strongly consider booking tickets online as the queues could take upwards of an hour otherwise.

In terms of other attractions to look at, the Duomo and its associated Piazza are definitely one of the highlights to look at. The Duomo is considered one of Italy’s most prominent architectural and religiously meaningful structures and one can easily see why when they see it in person. The scale is incredible! Be sure to climb up to the top to get a great view of the city. While you are there you should visit the Baptistery and the Giotto’s Bell Tower (you can also climb to the top of this tower to get an overtop view of the City) since it is in the same piazza.

Now, most of the attractions mentioned above the river Arno, but one of Florence’s main attractions is definitely the Piazzale Michaelangiolo. It is not a long hike up, but the view from here is outstanding. I’ll let the panorama below tell the story. Get up here for sunset, the sights are definitely something to be in awe of.

I stayed at the hostel Greci for the duration of my stay. The room itself was clean enough but it was bare bones. The washroom was shared but we were lucky enough to not have to share with any other visitors so it felt like a private bathroom for us. We weren’t provided with internet access outside of the lobby/reception however and it also turned off from 10pm – 8am every day. It is sad to say but that is a pet peeve and it certainly wasn’t convenient. It is located in a great location but I would not want to stay here again.

We had a variety of food while we were in Florence. Having an appreciation of food, I couldn’t wait to try some of the local cuisine and see how it compared to the Italian food that we have at home. I have to tell you, I love my coffee in the morning (or as needed throughout the day) and Florence was a great place for that. Starting the day at a café with an espresso and a pastry was just what I wanted. The coffee in Italy is amazing, definitely give it a try if you like your kick in the morning (or as needed ;))

As a meat eater, I love my steak so, having heard good things about the Florentine steak, I had to give that a try. In total, we tried two different places for steak dinner in the 3 nights that we had in Florence. l'parione provided us with a 1.6kg T-Bone steak cooked just about rare along with some rosemary potatoes which looked like they had been boiled before being thrown into the oven. The steak was butter tender but it was a little under seasoned. I usually order my medium rare but this was definitely on the rare side (it was easily 2 inches thick) but you could tell it was high quality meat. What was lacking though was proper seasoning (aside from the char flavor, it was a little bland).

The other location that we went to for steak was Trattoria Marione in the same area. The steak this time was also served with potatoes which were not nearly as tasty but the steak was better seasoned. It was a bit of a toss up but I think Parione’s served a better steak as the meat was better quality. Keep in mind that when ordering the steak, it is typically meant for 2 people and will cost upwards of 40-60 Euros alone.

Other locations that we really enjoyed for food included Gusta Osteria (I had a simple primi pasta) and Gusta Pizzaria (located within a block from Gusta Osteria). For an amazing panino, visit All’Antico Vinaio (located just outside of the exit of the Uffizi Gallery). I came back here twice but I really enjoyed the prosciutto with fresh mozza on foccace bread. The restaurant is tiny so you will have to eat on the sidewalk or whilst walking but that isn’t a bad thing – you can have alcohol outside :).

Anyone who goes to Italy knows that gelato is a specialty. In Florence, there are a couple of places that I can definitely recommend. One is Vivoli and the other is Santa Trinata. Santa Trinita has some fantastic selection but on top of that, they also give ample amounts of gelato. Who can complain about that?

I normally wouldn’t have a shopping section but it is worth mentioning because Florence is known for their leather products. There are a number of markets within the City but be aware that the markets will sell cheap leather products but there is a chance that they are imported leathers. For authentic Italian leather products such as jackets, wallets, etc, you can have the peace of mind by going to an actual store. I bought a lamb skin leather jacket which was tailored to fit me exactly for only 310 euros. Have fun finding that kind of deal in North America. There are a number of outlet malls just outside of Florence. You can organize shuttle buses to drop you off and pick you back up. The deals on Italian designers such as Prada, Gucci, Armani, Bottega, Cavalli, and Valentino are amazing and worth browsing through.

Florence was an amazing city and it is easy to see why it might have been identified by many to be THE Italian city to visit. I have only named off some of the places to see but you could easily fill in 4-5 days here. I would suggest at least 3 though (if you don’t include a day for shopping) if you want to make the most of your time here. Definitely going to be coming back, for other reasons :)