Currency: Euro, exchange rate is roughly 1 Euro = $1.30 USD
Language: Italian, but everyone also speaks English
I apologize for my late posting. I got caught up with so many other trips and seeing old friends that I neglected to review this amazing, authentic, beautiful, unpretentious little city.
Its been so long since I left Florence, so I am excited to get to relive it through this blog as I upload. Florence was amazing. The only thing that I remembered from when I was there in 1998 was that there was amazing street shopping that allowed you to haggle for goods. 15 years later, that market still exists but there is a richness in this city that I was not mature enough to have experienced, or remembered.
They actually began building this monstrosity in 1296 and didn't complete it until 1436. The area around the Cathedral is a haven for tourists and thus pickpockets, so after my Barcelona debacle, I steered clear of the area. However, the Duomo was a great landmark for finding my way around town.
One of the best parts of exploring a new city is when you have conquered all of the touristy stuff and you have time to tap into the local market, go where the locals go and eat where the locals eat. After suffering through the most boring free walking tour possible, some new friends and I decided to grab lunch at a local farmers' market that was hidden behind the bustling canopies of the leather market.
|Bilan and Emily, plus some big fat photo bombers at Palazzo della Signoria|
|The colors, the colors... beautiful produce everywhere|
|Stopped at a butcher and had him muscle me up a sandwich|
After lunch, Bilan, Ariel and I parted ways for the afternoon and made plans to meet up later for the sunset and dinner. This wouldn't be my blog if I didn't find a park to nap in during my downtime. I had intended on writing a blog post, but obviously I didn't get to it...(since there wasn't a post for nearly 2 weeks).
|Fashion Night Out street promoters|
|View from Ponte Vecchio bridge|
|The river banks are well kept and not dirty at all.|
|Ariel, Bilan, Emily chillin|
|Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo|
|This sunset is ridiculous!|
|a pinch to the booty...|
|a tap on the shoulder...|
|and a little somethin' somethin' for him to remember me by|
|An amazing collaboration between the Gods and the architects of Florence|
|Left Clockwise: Ariel, Rosie, Marcela, Emily, Bilan|
|I didn't realize that nightfall could trump the sunset until now|
|Bilan, Rosie, Marcela, Ariel, Emily|
|Our rogue wooden table amidst a cluster of steel|
After dinner, upon heading back to the hostel, we literally stumbled upon a street party. All of the shops had their doors open to the public well after 10:30PM and there was music playing and people dancing in the street. Patek Philippe was playing an amazing selection of Motown classics, EuroPop and 90's sensations. Despite Rosie having an early wake-up call, we danced and danced until nearly 1am.
|Patek Philippe party|
|Wall to wall people on Ponte Vecchio bridge|
|Photo bomber and I doing our best Miley Cyrus impression....Wouldn't that make Rosie the photo bomber then???|
|New hairdo for Rosie Posey!|
|Edible table garnish....those radishes didn't stand a chance|
|Kitchen supplies in plain sight|
|Obviously, I got a giant steak....cooked rare, the only way they prepare it|
|Rosie opted for a traditional Tuscan vegetarian dish, Panzanella|
|Fried Basil = Delicious. How do you take something healthy and destroy it??? Fry it. It feels so good to be bad.|
|A street artist's chalk drawing|
|Emily and Karen at the Uffizi|
The poor woman, though, had no idea I would ruin her from all future museum visits. While touring the gazillion museums I have encountered around Europe, I realized that painters from the 14th, 15th and 16th century have no ability to paint babies. They all look like creepy aliens or fat, chubby creepers. I have no idea why. They do beautiful masterpieces of adults, wars, horses, dogs, fantasy paintings, but the second they put a child or a cherub in it, it's like they freak out and put a lifeless face with almond eyes on a rolly-polly, chubby body. I pointed it out to her early on in our adventure and she said that unfortunately, she now sought out the babies in paintings and concurred. She's ruined for life...and now so are you.
|Not even Da Vinci can get it right. Virgin and Child (courtesy of Google images)|
I spent nearly a week in Florence and loved every moment of it. I stayed at 2 amazing places while I was there that I would recommend highly. The first is for those of you on a budget, My Friends Hostel (myfriendshostel.com). It is conveniently located just east of the main train station - only a 5 minute walk away, and only 7 minutes to the Duomo. It was amazing. The owners, Nadina and Elion were the most accommodating, friendly people I have met in Italy. The hostel was so clean and they took such good care of the property. Nadina was always cleaning. She even steamed the mattresses between guests to make sure there were no bugs or germs left behind. They bleach the walls every couple of months to clean up dirt or mold spores or whatever, breakfast is included and they have a cute little outdoor patio that you can enjoy as well. I actually found myself going home halfway through the day so I could hang out with Nadina and go get gelato or sit and have coffee and pastries. She and Elion are amazing. If you go to Florence and are in the need of accommodations ranging around 30-40 Euros, this is your place.
|There are 6-bed rooms, 2-bed rooms and private rooms|
The second is for those of you willing to splurge. I stayed at a bed and breakfast called Be One (http://www.b1florence.com/index-eng.html). Its about 250 Euros a night and is located right outside of the Piazza della Repubblica, just southwest of the Duomo. All of the bedding and furniture is outfitted by Fendi. The location was grand, the rooms were amazing and the service was stellar. Check out the amazing furniture in the lobby.
|Lobby seating area where we were met with Prosecco|
|Amazing Fendi Chairs....I want these so bad but they wouldn't fit in my backpack|
|His half of the bistecca....|
|my half of the bistecca.... I was served at least 20 ounces easily, his must have been 40.|
|My table is upstairs on the left|
|They even gave me free pastries...yum. Oh, by the way, those croissants are filled with marscarpone.|
Its not all steak and pasta for me.... I did have a day where I ate veggies!
|Avacados, tomatoes and barrata cheese "salad"|
|The locals played a tune on my way out of Florence...I love street performers|
Arrivederci, Florence. It was lovely and I promise I'll be back. To all those I met in Florence, thank you for making my trip so fulfilling and rich. I hope to see you all again some day...especially you, Rosie, Nadina and Elion.