In February, we went to Florence to visit our daughter while she was studying there for a semester. Everyone we know who had been to Florence said that it was unforgettable, and now we know why! We stayed in a lovely Airbnb that was roomy, comfortable and close to everything. Our host even came to meet us with a beautiful bottle of wine. During the week we were there we ate, shopped and explored as much as possible. We took an overnight trip to Cinque Terra and stopped to see the leaning tower in Pisa on the way. While our daughter was in class, we visited a winery in Chianti. One of my favorite things about Florence was the aperitivo in which restaurants offer a buffet of appetizers with the purchase of a drink (usually 10€). It was a great way to sample lots of foods and restaurants without spending a lot of time or money at each one, (wifi codes are printed on receipts).
My husband and I both purchased lovely leather jackets as well as a few pairs of shoes during our stay. I also made sure to stock up on olive oil because it was incredibly flavorful! It's possible to bargain with the shopkeepers, especially for leather goods, and with the vendors on the street. Never underestimate the power of walking away when you can't agree on a price. Our daughter became a pro at getting vendors to meet her price when it came to shawls, bags, and other items sold at the leather market!
Many students study in Florence, so most everyone in the shops and restaurants speaks English. February was a good time to go as it wasn't too cold, but if we have the opportunity to revisit Tuscany, I would like to do so in the spring or fall. Have you been to Firenze? Leave a comment!
Above: My husband and my step-daughter at the top of the Duomo.
Below: Me and my step-daughter on the Ponte Vecchio.
Below: Visting Castello del Trebbio winery in Chianti.
Below: Carousel rides & dinner in the Piazza della Repubblica in Florence.
Above: Sunset at the Piazzale Michelangelo
Below: Aperitivo at Oibo (10€/pp)
Below: Cinque Terre - Manarola
Know before you go:
1) Labor strikes are common in Italy. When we arrived at the airport, the taxis had just gone on a two-hour strike, so there was no way for us to get to our Airbnb with all of our luggage. At first, we didn't realize the situation because a couple of taxis had picked up a few people ahead of us, but then they just stopped showing up. Employees from the airport eventually explained the situation. On the day we left, the ground crew at the airport were going on strike right around when our plane was supposed to board. Our flight, along with many others, was delayed and some were even canceled. Strikes are usually announced, but if you don't know to ask about it, then you will be in for a frustrating surprise.
2) Taxis are not readily available on the street, so you need to call for one ahead of time if going outside of the city. Our accommodating Airbnb host organized transportation for us to visit a winery and to go to the airport.
3) There is no salt in the bread because many years ago, there was a tax on salt. To avoid paying the tax, the bakers stopped putting salt in their bread. While that salt tax has since been lifted, the practice of making bread without salt is still in place in Florence. Salad dressing is simply oil, vinegar, salt and pepper that is often on the table and you put on the salad yourself.
4) Tips are included in the food, drink and taxi prices.
My husband and I love to travel. We have our favorite places, like Nantucket, France and Disney's Epcot, but we love discovering new ones too. We have vowed to visit a new country every year, as well as discover a new place within our own continent. Together we have visited; France, Finland, Switzerland, Belgium, England, Luxembourg, Italy, Monaco, Morocco, Jamaica, Aruba, Bermuda, Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Grand Cayman, Canada, Mexico, Panama, The Netherlands, and Sweden. Our next destination - TBT!