Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Florence

I recently jetted off on a six day trip to Florence. Italy is my favourite place I have ever been to, and I know I am very lucky to have visited different parts of the country 9-10 times in my life. Florence was a city which I had never been to before and I had heard so many people saying it was a must visit place that quite spontaneously we went and booked it.

There is no denying that this trip was not cheap. Italy is not a cheap place a visit, I don't think it can really be done on a very tight budget if you want to see and do everything. Baring this in mind we did go in the October half term holidays which does always make it more expensive. My parents like to book a package holiday, for the simple reason you know that everything is sorted and it is an easier life. For this trip to get from the airport to our hotel, it involved getting our own way there. To get to Florence from the UK you fly in to Pisa airport. There is an airport in Florence, but it is for internal flights only. We got off the plane in Pisa, and we had researched before going how to get to Florence and the journey was in fact pretty seamless. We bought the train tickets at the airport and got on a small metro called the Pisamover which is easy to find within the airport and takes you to the Pisa Centrale station in 10 minutes. Once in Pisa Centrale we then got a train to Florence, the journey on the way took 48 minutes. The price of the combination ticket was 11.30 euros each. 

Before booking the trip we decided we would want quite a central hotel as we knew we wanted to take a few day trips to different parts of the country. The hotel we decided in was called the Hotel Caravaggio. It was an easy 10 minute walk from the train station to the hotel. The hotel was lovely, the staff was great and we opted for the bed and breakfast option.

The first day was long as we set off to Manchester Airport at 6am for our flight, and we arrived in the hotel at 3pm. We wanted to quickly unpack and then go and explore. It is great on your first day to go out and find your bearings. We had a great wander round and picked up some late dinner as we were all very hungry. After refuelling we wandered around the city and we found the Duomo. I have to say this is such a wonderful site, and I was very taken a back. It is enormous and it is such a stunning place. It was one of those where no matter how you tried to take a picture, it will never ever look as good as it does in front of you. It is the centre piece of the city, and we ended up seeing it on a daily basis in passing and everyday we would all stand and take it all in again. As it was the first night we didn't want to go too far, so we went for a stroll and we ended up at a small family run trattoria called La Divina Osteria on Via Guelfa. This restaurant is the exact reason Italy is my favourite place. I had my first pasta dish of the holiday and it did not disappoint. In Italy depending on where you are visiting the prices can vary quite dramatically. In this restaurant pizza and pasta dishes ranged from 9-13 euros, which we all thought was very reasonable. We were also very happy to see that a litre of the house white wine for just 12 euros!!





Ponte Vecchio was built in 1218 but then it had to be rebuilt in 1345 and overlooks the River Arno. There has been shops on the bridge since the 13th century. It originally used as a market for locals to get fresh produce. In later years, more expensive shops such as goldsmiths and jewellers moved on to the bridge. In more recent years, there is now a large variety of shops both high and low end which is bustling on a daily basis with both locals and tourists.



We decided that one place that we definitely wanted to visit was Pitti Palace. It is a large collection of museums all in on one site. You are able to go into lots of different parts of the palace where the generations of families used to live. This includes the museum of modern art, the silver museum, costume gallery, the porcelain museum and the palatine gallery. It is also surrounded by huge gardens which are beautiful.



That evening we decided to go to dinner at a restaurant near the Duomo, it was called Nuttini and was just off Saint Lorenzo square. We once again had fantastic food and the pizza was amazing!

On day 3 we had planned our trip to Pisa which was super exciting.


Before visiting Pisa, I thought that the leaning tower was on a site on its own. In fact the tower is located on a world heritage site called the square of miracles. There are four different sites to visit on the square - the leaning tower, Duomo di Pisa, baptistery and the cemetery.

The Duomo is built on top of a white marble pavement and is very impressive to look at. It is a prime example of romanesque architecture. The leaning tower is obviously the main tourist attraction that people flock to see. My dad and I paid 18 euros each to walk up the spiralling tower. It was a lot of steps, but it was great and the views from the top were incredible. I am going to write a post dedicated to Pisa next week.

This evening we decided we wanted to eat something a bit different and we had seen that there was a little Indian restaurant close to our hotel which was always bustling. It was called Indian Palace on Via Guelfa, and the food was delicious. On holiday it is always nice to try different cuisines and this definitely did not disappoint.

We had decided on day 4 to visit the city of Siena. This was a bit of a spontaneous trip, and we are so glad that we did it. From Florence to Siena on the train it was quite a long trip, it took about 1hr 30 mins and cost 10 euros each return.

This Duomo looked less impressive on the outside compared to the one in Florence, however inside it was absolutely stunning. It cost 15 euros to go round into all the different parts, which we thought was expensive but it was definitely worth it. It was honestly incredible. The floor was marble and each individual bit of the floor was carved with stunning representations as to what was going on in that particular period of time. The most stunning surprise was the library which had an incredible ceiling which had paintings on it. I am also going to be doing a separate post too on this trip.



On day 5 we stayed within Florence and decided to have a relaxed day of strolling, eating and shopping! We ended up in a little square called Piazza de Santa Croce, which was not as busy as lots of others as it is on the edge of the city. This is called the Church of Santa Croce which we didn't pay to go in as we had already been in to a lot of churches by this point. It is definitely worth a wander down into the square though if you have a chance. We went to a lovely pizzeria called Pizza Napoli on Via dei Neri, it was lovely and I had a to die for lasagne with some rose wine.


There were a few tourist attractions in Florence which we didn't actually go to. I think your holiday is yours to have and do what you want with it. As a family we are not into art or have a dying interest to go round galleries. However, if galleries are your thing and you are willing to wait in 3 hour queues then there are two which you should definitely visit. The first is La Galleria de Uffizi, this is a museum that contains one of the oldest and most famous art collections in the world. It displays work by Giotto, Paolo Uccello, Botticelli and De Vinci. The second being Galleria dell 'Academia, which is mostly known as it is home to some of Michelangelo's work including Prisoners, St.Matthew's and the must see statue of David.

On the last day we had a flight at 1pm meaning we had to get up early in order to make the journey back to Pisa. Overall, I had an absolutely fantastic time in Florence and its surrounding areas.

Lucy
xoxo
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