Florence, Italy – Tuscany’s Flower – Part One

We traveled to Florence, Italy in October with a couple of friends of ours, Kevin and Willie.

L-R: Willie, Kevin, Bryan and Greg – Cocktails at the Ponte Veccchio

This was everyone’s first trip to Florence.  We made arrangements to stay in an apartment while we were in Florence.  We had talked about renting an apartment versus staying in a hotel as that would give us more room and a better opportunity to visit and plan out or talk about our day.  It was a great decision, as our apartment was located right along the Arno River and within a 15 minute walk to areas of Florence that we wanted to explore.  Plus, in the long run, it was less expensive to rent an apartment for a week versus staying in a hotel.

Our first order of business when we arrived and checked in to our apartment was to find a market to gather the essentials:  Coffee, biscotti, bread, cold cuts, cheese, yogurt and wine.

Bryan relaxing on the apartment patio

Our landlord gave us a recommendation to a market that was just a short two block walk away.  After we bought what we needed and had everything put away it was then time to explore.  We stayed relatively close to the apartment on our first night, and just explored the area around the apartment and across the Arno river.  After a stop for dinner and some wine, we headed back to the apartment to call it a night.

The following day we set out to roam through Florence.  Our mission was to visit the iconic Duomo of the Santa Maria del Fiore (St. Mary of the Flower) cathedral.  Along the way, we discovered Piazza Santa Croce and the beautiful Basilica di Santa Croce, the largest Franciscan church in the world.  Construction on this beautiful church began in 1294 and serves as the principal Franciscian church in Florence.  It is also the burial place of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and the poet, Foscolo.  Check out the photos below of the Basilica di Santa Croce.  Note that the doors are all hand-carved from wood.

It was still early in the morning, as far as Florence time goes, and since we were still feeling the effects of jet lag, we opted to find a café to grab a coffee and pastry.  We quickly discovered Finisterrae, a wonderful café/restaurant combination within Piazza Santa Croce, next to the Basilica.

Willie and Kevin ordered first and Greg quickly learned that when ordering coffee in Italy, you must be specific as to the type of coffee you want.  Ordering just a cup of coffee will get you an espresso.  Which was perfect as the extra jolt of caffeine the espresso provided was just what he needed.  And what is a cup of coffee without a pastry?  The pastries were absolutely delicious, by the way.

Now that our bellies were full and our caffeine levels restored to normal, it was time to explore.

Weather would not be our friend during our time in Florence as it rained, off and on, for most of the time we were there.  But it didn’t deter us from exploring this beautiful city on foot.  Florence is a very walkable city and, in our opinion, the only way to truly explore it and get to know it.

Coming up in Part Two – Finding the Santa Maria del Fiore

Bryan taking shelter from the rain




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