Category Archives: Florence

These posts are about our experiences in Florence during our trip to Italy.

Flying Through Florence

Today started with a private tour of the Accademia Gallery with our guide Yadri. It houses all sorts of mediums; photos to paintings to sculptures. More well known is Michelangelo’s statue of David. We couldn’t take pictures, but I learned this about the statue: 1.) David has butterflies carved into his eyes to give the appearance of contemplation and depth. Who woulda thought? 2.) The statue has many imperfections that are only visible if you’re looking for them. It doesn’t seem fitting that such a great symbol of Renaissance art should have any scratches, but I guess if you were 505 years old, you’d be feeling a bit worn down too.

From there, we walked past Brunelleschi’s Dome (which is the huge cathedral I wrote about earlier.) After a LONGGGG lecture about the dome, we walked through the back streets of Florence with Yadri leading the way. We came across Dante Aligheiri’s house (the famous author who wrote “The Divine Comedy”), and past Uffizi (a large art museum.) In front of Uffizi were a lot of statues of famous Florentines. Among those were “living statues” that scared the daylights out of us when they moved unexpectedly. I swear they could’ve passed for actual statues!

Afterwords we walked to Ponte Vecchio, where we said arrivederci to Yadri. 

Ponte Vecchio at right, and houses of Florence along the Arno River Ponte Vecchio at right, and houses of Florence along the Arno River at left

Later we walked through a huge market called  San Lorenzo Market, where we bought many more souveniers. Afterwards we went to dinner (I got lasagna :)) at an outside dining area. Everything went well in terms of getting on the waiter’s good side, until it came time to leave. When Dad stood up, he bumped the table with his knees. It was enough force to send olive oil and glass shards from the water pitcher into my lap. I was fine…but I can’t say the same for that water pitcher…

After our dash for the exit, we went to a gelato place called “Grom” that Yadri had recommended. We were exhausted, and headed back to the hotel for an early night.

Wow, it seems like just yesterday we arrived in Florence ready to see another side of Italy, and now tomorrow we are set to leave for Venice by train in the morning. In the end of it all, Florence was nice. It doesn’t have the same energy at night that we found in Rome, which was hard to adjust to, and it isn’t as liesurely as Rome when it comes to walking around and eating. However, it has just as much history to it as Rome, and there are a lot of “foodies” here (people who enjoy the preparation and eating of good food) like myself, so I felt right at home in that sense.

Well I have an early day tomorrow, so I’ll write again when I’m in Venezia! Ciao!

Castello di Oliveto

If driving into Florence was hard, driving out is twice as hard. Today we had a scheduled wine tasting and luncheon at a castle called Castello di Oliveto in a town called Castelfiorentino at 11:30 am. Unfortunately, the directions there were unclear and it took us two hours just to get to the center of Castelfiorentino (which is actually a beautiful mountain town.) The drive turned into a liesurely cruise along the vineyards as we drove around hopelessly lost. After a while, Dad finally gave in to our pleas and asked for directions, which were so helpful, they set us another hour and fifteen minutes behind.

Finally, we arived at the castle at 12:45 pm. It sat on 3,000 acres of land, used for growing grapes, olives, and livestock. It used to belong to a noble family who housed popes that were visiting in the area, but now it’s used for income by a wealthy family.

Me and Rachel in front of Castello di Oliveto

Me and Rachel in front of Castello di Oliveto

When we walked into the great courtyard, we didn’t even know if we would get a tour. The guide (Louisa) pointedly looked at her watch, but gave us a private tour/wine tasting/lunch anyway. The courtyard was beautiful, as well as the view from the terrace. We also got to see the wine cellar, where they make 10 different kinds of wine.

Afterwards was the wine tasting and luncheon. For those of you who are wondering, Rachel and I only tasted a few. And there’s actually no swallowing involved, if you catch my drift. For lunch we had sheep’s milk cheese (wierd but good), salami slices, prosciutto, and bruschetta. It was all so fresh and filling. Later came the biscotti, and we were stuffed.

Wine tasting/luncheon at Catello di Oliveto

Wine tasting/luncheon at Catello di Oliveto

We started walking around the vineyard afterward, but when we came across two shotgun shells, we hi-tailed it back to the car! From there we wound our way further up the mountain to a quaint town called San Gimignano per Louisa’s suggestion. It was hilly with cobblestone streets and old buildings. It was very clean, and very tourist-y; Dad said it reminded him of Disney World. But it had a fantastic view over what seemed like the rest of Tuscany, and we got a lot of souvenirs too.

San Gimignano

San Gimignano

Later on, we drove back to Florence for a dinner of pizza and…you guessed it…gelato!

Thanks to all who have been commenting- it means a lot even if I can’t get back to all of you 🙂 I’ll write soon! Ciao!

P.S. I’m feeling much better thank you for your concern. 🙂


Welcome to Firenze (Florence)!

Today had a rough start. Between saying goodbye to Roma and feeling a bit under the weather, it was just not a great day for me to take a 2.5 hour car trip. We were scheduled to take a rental car out of Termini Train Station (located in central Rome), but there was some sort of mishap in the scheduling, which resulted in sitting in Termini for half an hour. Now the thing about Termini is it’s a nice train station, and is so big it could pass for an airport. But they play the same jingle , absolutely no variation. So when they would make an announcement over the intercom, they would start the entire song over again, as if we’d forgotten the first verse. I assure you, we had not. the major headache that ensued was only curable with a comedy video off my iPod. No other remedy fits such strenuous conditions when traveling with family.

 Overall, I thought Rome was nice, with beautiful architecture, but I can’t wait to see what the rest of Italy has in store for us. As soon as our journey to Florence began, the scenery changed to flowing green hills with grape vineyards and sunflower fields. Around 3 pm we arrived in Florence, and the streets are twisted and confusing, but we’re trying our best to get our bearings.

We set out later on to go Geocaching, but no luck. (For those who don’t know what Geocaching is, it’s a world-wide “treasure hunt” via GPS.) We’ll probably try again tomorrow. We walked around Piazza di San Giovanni with a gorgeous cathedral in the center of it. There were people who were so moved by the massive church that they were crying.  

Cathedral in Florence

Cathedral in Florence

Then we went for dinner (pasta bolognaise was delish) and gelato. This time, we didn’t need to hunt for Wi-Fi because we have it right in the hotel!

Tomorrow looks promising in terms of weather and events, so I’ll write later tomorrow!