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Florence the Fabulous

Florence, Italy


FLORENCE IS LOVELY FLORENCE IS LOVELY FLORENCE IS LOVELY FLORENCE IS LOVELY

Well this really is a magnificent city! We had 2.5 days in Florence (NOT ENOUGH) and then a day trip to each of Siena and San Gigmignano to get a little taste of provincial Tuscany. It was all divine and we really wish we could have taken our time from the French Riviera and transferred it across to Italy - Nice really is a vacuous waste of space! (yes Jane's still bitter)

We arrived from the train station and unfortunately our directions to our apartment were not the best (let me just say at this point that getting an apartment is often cheaper than a budget hotel and in the case of Italy cheaper than a private room in a hostel so it's not us being extravagant), so we ended up walking and walking and walking in the sun (yes the weather was STILL stunning at this point).....but once we hit the Duomo for the first time, we were spellbound!

We stayed right in the thick of things - just steps from the Duomo in San Lorenzo and our apartment was lovely!

Up until this point, we really hadn't done much shopping. Partly because we were so busy sight seeing, partly because we didn't want to lug things around with us! (Poor Kristian has already been carting Jane's heavier bag around and Jane his lighter one!) But this place is a shopper's dream!!!

HIGHLIGHTS:

1. SHOPPING - Beautiful Florentine paper, leather shops, fashion etc, as well as lots of markets full of crappy stuff! So many great shopping districts - jewellery at Ponte Vecchio, cute vintage stores around Palazzo Pitti, leather in Santa Croce (although a lot of it was a little generic to be honest)....

2. ART AND ARCHITECTURE - We really aren't into religious art, but it doesn't really matter. The whole place is just full of magnificent and interesting buildings all around and all within walking distance. You can stroll through one lovely square after another.

Seeing the David statue for the first time from the end of a long hallway really did take our breath away. The Uffizi again is something that can be appreciated even if it's not 'your' sort of art. It was worth going for the Bottecellis alone! (Tip: Do what we did and book your places at major museums in advance by phone so that you wait in the queue for 15 minutes and not 4 or 5 hours!)

3. VIEWS OVER FLORENCE (including from PIAZZA MICHAELANGELO)

4. GELATI GELATI GELATI

5. SURROUNDING TUSCAN TOWNS

Siena and San Gimigniano really are divine. An easy day trip (cf: Provence) they combine amazing history, beautiful food (including wild boar pasta and traditional Tuscan bread soup) and of course lovely shops! The Duomo at Siena truly is the most amazing building I think we'd seen to date (well perhaps Ste Chapelle in Paris is joint).

6. DAY TIME TIPSYNESS - K has always liked a daytime tipple, but Jane has found that in France and Italy getting a little pissed during the day is really good - much better than in Australia. Vermouth is everywhere and very chic, which of course makes Jane chic and even 'house' wine in Italy is good - no throat closing over phenomenon!

LOWLIGHTS: Not many, but the Menu Turistico phenomenon was a major one! We actually walked out of a restaurant in Florence because of the apalling food. Even though we had read the guide books warning us that there is often one menu for tourists and one for Italians, we weren't quite prepared for this! Obviously no-one who likes their food will eat in the main tourist traps on any main drag in Europe, but this one had been recommended and seemed very busy with Italians too. We watched while the Italians behind us got served magnificent home made ravioli from platters, while we had what seemed like frozen tortellini, followed by K receiving three shrivelled up fatty pieces of lamb (the size of a twenty cent piece) with soggy chips!!!! American tourists have a lot to answer for! Food was incredibly expensive too, so once again we cooked and K made the most amazing roast pork in a tiny little toaster oven!! Supermarket pork and it was stunning (I won't go on again about the travesty that is Australian "new age" pork!)

INTERESTING FACTS: Italy is so clean! We found it funny enough to watch people in France blatantly waste water by washing down everything they possibly could all the time, but Italian trains and streets and bathrooms etc were all really clean.

USELESS INFORMATION: Italian train ticket machines are fabulous! Unlike the stupid French ones, which only take local credit cards and no money, they take money so we could avoid the ridiculous queues we had to stand in to get on French trains!

We both found it freaky to hear little children speaking in Italian. It's quite a harsh language and it made them all sound like little men and women, particularly if they were whining at their parents. Absolutely hysterical!

Dogs in Europe are not friendly! Seriously! If you call a dog or go over to one to pat them, they really aren't interested in you. In Oz and the UK they are normal and friendly - perhaps a reflection on their owners' more restrained nature?

This Rocked
1
permalink written by  JaneandKristian on October 9, 2007 from Florence, Italy
from the travel blog: Jane and Kristian's honeymoon
tagged Florence

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