Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Italy Part 8 (Florence Part 2)

Italy Day Five:

We got to sleep in!!!

It was so wonderful to sleep in for the first time on vacation and the weather was beautiful. I was really excited to spend a whole day in one location and to avoid getting on a tour bus for 24 hours. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated the tour bus and chartered transportation, it was just hard to sit so long on the crowded bus and to not be able to use the bathroom!

We took a walking tour through Florence and I swear we walked 10 miles. We stared at the cathedral we saw the night before and it was just as beautiful in the day as it was in the night. The bell tower and dome were so tall, I had to tilt my head all the way back to see the tops! -- see the people on the top of the dome in the second photo??? It is a nearly 450 step climb to the top of the dome. Needless to say, I  am not a huge fan of heights and I didn't make the climb.

Then we walked back to the Palazzo della Signoria and learned about the Medici family that ruled Florence and where the statue of David was originally placed - a replica now stands outside the town hall (Palazzo Vecchio). Side note: I am not posting a ton of photos from this location because I don't want anyone to be offended by the large quantity of nude statues and fountains in the background.

Our tour walked down to the riverfront and a great view of the Ponte Vecchio - a medieval bridge over the Arno River.

Houston and I opted to walk through another church, the Basilica di Santa Croce to see the tombs of several incredible people: Michelangelo, Dante and Galileo, to name a few.

The photo below shows two of the many (MANY) floor tombs. Being buried in the floor of a cathedral, I was intrigued. 

We ate a delicious lunch at a restaurant with outdoor seating. A fun lunch with pasta, sunshine and wine? Sign me up for some more of that! It was an awesome lunch.

And then Houston snagged his Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt from Florence!

After lunch, Houston, Ruby and I went for another long walk, starting with more gelato, of course. 

Houston and I wanted to walk through the cathedral and the baptistery (the Baptistery of Saint John) since we only had the opportunity to see the exteriors in our tour. The baptistery is across from the cathedral (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore). Both of them have breathtaking ceilings. Truly, they are incredible and the photos do not do them justice.

The baptistery is covered from floor to ceiling with beautiful paintings and gold leaf. 

Then we did some shopping! I got some more gelato (because, why not?) and we walked back to the Ponte Vecchio (a bridge covered with beautiful shops) and looked at all the amazing jewelry and leather vendors.

We met the most amazing store owner in a leather store and had fun talking with him for over half an hour, walked through a street market and wandered through the side streets and alleys of Florence before heading back to the hotel.

Then we picked up Gary and headed off to dinner - my second favorite meal of the trip, second only to the Rome Pizza -- delicious cheese tortellini and pinot grigio. I was pretty exhausted at dinner, and a little lot of wine and so.much.walking means that I practically was sleep walking back to the hotel.

City:  Florence
Date:  9/28/14 - 9/30/14
Hotel:  Best Western Hotel Rivoli Florence
Weather:  Pretty warm, but perfect for being outside (and a great excuse for more gelato!)
Restaurants (Lunch and Dinner):  Sabatini (D), Francesco Vini (L), Ristoranti Alla Griglia (D)
The Good:  We had so much free-time in Florence and it was wonderful. Our hotel room also had a bathroom counter!!! -- It is the little things that matter to me.
The Bad:  My feet were swollen when I changed for dinner and I couldn't get my sneakers back on - thank goodness for flats!
Wish I had:  closed the hotel window - I will explain in the next post.  

*** All images copyright Polka Dotted Blue Jay and HoustonLaney.com ***


  1. Florence looks absolutely beautiful! It's definitely on my bucket list!

  2. I didn't make it to Florence when I was in Italy last summer, but it reminds me of my time in Venice. I think gelato was my husband's favorite part of the trip. He actually insisted we have a daily gelato budget. Haha. Gotta love him. I really like the wrap up data you have at the bottom of your post with the City, date, hotel, etc. I blogged my summer in Europe and kinda want to go back and add that to all my posts now.

  3. Oh man , I can't get over the detail in the architecture! Such great photos!

  4. Norkor - and soooo high on the buildings too!

  5. Gelato was definitely a highlight of the trip, and we did so much walking that I didn't have to feel guilty about eating it!
    I am sure I will forget all the beautiful little places we went, so it is nice to recap it! :0)

  6. Sarah - You MUST go someday. It was incredible!

  7. Totally! I turned my blog posts into a photobook for Hubby for Christmas with added photos, and it's still fun to look through it on the coffee table.