Florence Day 1

Monday 10/4 Exploring Florence

The power was going to be out at our hotel starting at 8am for some sort of repair, so we got a early start and took our breakfast voucher down the street to a little cafe in campo di fiori.  We had a light breakfast of croissants, bananas, juice and my regular 'un cafe' (espresso).  We took a taxi to the train station, not wanting to deal with our luggage on the rush hour bus ride. 12 Euro.  Walking into the Rome train station was a bit intimidating but we headed straight to the kiosks and bought our one way tickets to Florence.  88 Euro for two.  Thankfully we had a bit of time to figure out our next step, since the train station had well over 25 tracks and of course mostly everything listed in Italian.  We eventually figured out that what our track was, and Rollie figured out that we had a specific 'car' with our seats.  On the train we shared a small can of pringles and a diet coke, 5 Euro.

After the quick hour and 20 minute train ride through the countryside we arrived to Florence.  I had the brilliant idea of just 'winging' it when it came to finding our hotel...without a map.  We walked about a mile with our luggage in the wrong direction before realizing we needed to turn around....just more exercise so we could eat more pasta later, right?!  We found our cute family run hotel, Hotel Casci just 2 blocks from the Duomo.  Unable to check in yet, we left our bags and headed over to the market district for lunch.  We settled on ZaZa (a huge restaurant in the market square with tons of great outdoor seating), another recommendation from my friends mother.  We enjoyed some great bread (they don't add salt to the bread in Florence, much different from Rome) as well as a 1/2 liter of house red wine.  I had carbonara and Rollie had rigatoni with a rose sauce. 29 Euro.  We browsed the mercato centrale (indoor produce, meat, cheese market-absolutely amazing...next time would love to rent an apartment so we can cook ourselves!)  Then we headed outside where the streets are lined with more vendors with many leather goods, purses, scarfs, knick-knacks, etc.  I purchased a great little leather bracelet for 3.50 Euro.  We headed back to our hotel to check in, rest, and freshen up a bit.

We had heard that the Duomo has crazy lines majority of the time, except for late afternoon.  It was just before 4 and drizzling so we gave it a chance and there was no line!  We walked around the chapel first and then headed back outside to enter the tower portion.  16 Euro for two tickets.  We climbed the tiny tiny tower steps.  About 3/4 of the way up you walk around the bottom of the tower right up against the painting of the The Last Judgement...this was not anyone afraid of heights!  Then you continue what seemed like a few more hundred steps to the top, once you hit the fresh air the view is unreal!  We spent a good amount of time at the time catching our breath and taking in the scenery.  Climbing down is just as fun!

After the Duomo we headed over to Piazza Signoria where the replica of David stands as well as the city hall building.  We knew we would be back on Wednesday so we didn't spend too much time looking around.  We wanted to head over to ponte vecchico (bridge that was originally full of butcher shops but now lined with high end jewelry stores) before dinner so we walked across the bridge, peeked in a few jewelry stores.  It was still too early for dinner so we planned on just having a little happy hour snack at La Borsa, two Italian beers on tap and a diavolo pizza, 25 Euro-pricey for what we had.  Really tired from the day of travel and exploring we decided to just head back and call it an early night, but not before stopping for gelato!  Well, every gelato place in Florence has fresh waffles too!  I had a waffle with stractelli (basically finely chopped chocolate chip gelato) with nutella on top...to die for!  Rollie had a waffle with 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 chocolate gelato and two bottles of water, 13 Euro.  Good thing we didn't eat dinner :)
Dessert coma!


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