The first time I went to Italy, Florence was my favorite city, and this time it did not disappoint either. By this point the seven of us had been together non-stop for five days and were starting to irritate each other, so we used Florence to split up and have some alone time and just relaxed with tons of good food and many Italian beverages.
Favorite Sites: (1) The Statue of David at the Accademia Gallery – it is overwhelming in the best way; (2) The Duomo and Basilica – they just don’t build things like that anymore; (3) Piazza della Signoria – just what you picture of a Tuscan city;
Shopping: Leonardo’s Leather Works – this is my second time at Leonardo’s and I highly recommend this store. They have a huge selection and help you do all of the tax-free paperwork. I was about to buy myself a belt and my sister was going to get some bracelets when my dad offered to buy us the leather jacket and bag we were really lusting after. I was so impatient to wear mine, I wore it to the Moulin Rouge in Paris 5 days later. That leather jacket may have been the highlight of my trip! Kayla and I then split off from the parents who headed to the Uffizi (Dad loves Renaissance paintings), and walked towards the Ponte Vecchio and shopping district for some souvies.
Food & Drink: The real highlight of Florence was the food! Florence is in the heart of Tuscany and just above the Chianti region and as far as Italian food and Italian wine are concerned, Tuscan flavors and Supertuscan blends of wine are my favorite. Here are the restaurants and bars we went to and I highly recommend all of them if you ever find yourself in Florence.
Paperorosso – This was the very first restaurant we went to and was a matter of luck. Our hotel room was not ready and our group was too tired and grumpy to walk all the way into town and Paperorosso just happened to be right in between. The owner was so welcoming and made it feel like we were locals. He made us things off the menu and was incredibly hospitable. This was the first place I had charcuterie while in Italy and I was in heaven! So many meats and cheeses to choose from. Colby and a few of the others ordered a grilled porkchop that melted in your mouth. It was just what we needed to get in the foodie mindset for Florence.
Enoteca Pinchiorri – This was one of those restaurants that has been on my food-loving father’s bucket list, but instead of just doing a date night with Mom, he took the whole family for an unbelievable, once in a lifetime experience. It is a top Michelin rated restaurant and by far the most elegant place I’ve ever dined. We had 15 courses, unbelieveable wines to match those courses and the most impeccable service I’ve ever experienced. The waiters literally escorted you to the restroom and disappeared into the walls (that’s what it felt like at least). Afterwards, the amazing sommelier gave us a tour of one of the best wine cellars in the world. Just seeing a $1 million bottle of wine made me giddy; I can’t even fathom what it would be like to drink something like that. Another bottle was from the late 1800’s! That bottle of wine has survived many a war. This dining experience was truly unbelievable and I feel so lucky to have been able to enjoy it. If it is good enough for Presidents Clinton and Bush, its good enough for me.
Baldovino – My dad read about this place in one of his travel books and it was unbelievable. By far the best pizza I had in Italy and I got the charcuterie again – Oh my gosh! I heart Italy. This one is near Santa Croce so a very easy place to stop in and grab a bite as you tour the city. (The Santa Croce area turned out to be one of my favorite areas – if you can stay close to here you are guaranteed to have a marvelous time).
Finisterrae Ristorante – This was a group dinner planned by our esteemed travel agency, Globus, (eyeroll) who had butchered the dinner choices up to this point, but this one was amazing. The food was outstanding and so authentic, the decor was Tuscan-chic and the service was great. This is a great well-priced Tuscan dinner.
Bars – I mentioned before that the fam split up for the day, well when the Husband splits up from a group you can usually find him in the nearest pub or in this case looking for the nearest pub. He befriended not one, but two bar owners as he explored the city on his own and mapped out a plan for our evening. The first night we visited an Argentine pub before dinner – Argentino 7 Secoli – also near Santa Croce that had the biggest beers I’ve ever seen. The second night we followed dinner by visiting The Lion’s Fountain Irish Pub where they had a Texas Tech t-shirt that everyone got a kick out of signing and Sei Divino that had the best peach bellini (both for taste and presentation) I’ve ever tasted (there may have been a wine bar or two in between these).
All in all – if you love art and food, then Florence is the place for you.