Thursday, January 2, 2020

Weekend Adventures {Florence, Italy}

We took an insanely quick weekend to visit one of our favorite cities of all time -- Florence, Italy.  Trevor and I both studied in Florence in college (we went separate summers) but both feel so comfortable within the city and have seen most of the major museums and things the city has to offer.  But neither of us had been back since we left so many years ago so cheap flights + a free weekend meant we spent roughly 48 hours in our favorite city, this time together and with our daughter and it was amazing.
we also went with our very good friend Melissa
So this post is not necessarily about what to see and do in Florence but I will tell you where to eat.  Because that is basically what we did this trip -- eat and drink, and we ate and drank well because it is Italy.

We flew into Pisa, Italy which is a very small airport but very well connected.  There is a quick tram ride from the airport to the train station in Pisa.  Follow signs in the airport for Pisamover (yes that is what it is called and it is all well marked).

We made a super quick stop in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower -- it is about a 20 minute walk from the train station (and honestly the fastest way to the Tower unless you take a taxi).  While the Tower is awesome to see, there is nothing else in Pisa (in our opinion) so you don't need more than a half day.  We didn't go up the tower but you can (you can also go into the church and baptistery).

Getting to Florence from Pisa is also very easy -- lots of trains running between the two cities, at least one an hour.  Just buy a ticket at one of the many automated machines and make sure you validate it (punch it in one of the many machines) before getting on the train.  Same for returning back to Pisa -- buy your ticket at an automated machine and punch it before getting on the train.

Once in Florence, we stayed near the Accademia (right across the street to be exact).  There isn't really a bad location in Florence as long as you are on the main side of the Arno river (so same side as the Accademia, the Duomo, etc.).

We did go see the David at the Accademia because Trevor had never been and it worked out perfect because our little lady was obsessed with all the statues, especially the David.  I recommend getting tickets ahead of time (they are timed entry tickets).  We also went first thing in the morning and in the off season so we practically had the place to ourselves which was really nice.  For any museum in Florence, I would highly recommend getting tickets in advance.

We hiked (yes, because it is a large hill) up to Pizzale Michelangelo to get gorgeous views of the city and also to relive so many of our afternoons in Florence.  I cannot tell you how many times we hiked up that hill the summer I lived in Florence -- for fun, for soccer games in the park, for choir concerts at the church all the way at the top (required by my religion class).  And while insanely touristy, we got wine at the top and it was seriously one of the best glasses of white we had ever had that included a good and juicy strawberry.  It was perfect.

We also went to the Medici Chapels which are chapels within the Basilica of San Lorenzo -- the chapels honor the Medici family and was created by Michelangelo.  It really is very cool and worth a stop if you have time.  Then we mostly just wandered through the city going past our old school(s) and places we lived; it was amazing.

As for where to eat in the city -- lucky for us when Trevor and I lived in Florence we got two home cooked meals per day and they were amazing.  But for the other meal we almost always ate at Ristorante La Spada which has the best roasted chicken and potatoes you will ever have in your entire life.  Yes, go to Italy for the chicken, but you will not regret it. Their lasagna is also to die for, everything is good.  Back in the day we used to get the chicken to go but this trip we sat down in the restaurant for dinner and it was so much fun!  We ate dinner our second night at Coquinarius and it was also to die for.  I had the wild boar ragu and it was so good, I legit wanted to lick my plate!  For lunch we ate at I Fratellini for lunch which is an actual hole in the wall place, no seating -- eat on the sidewalk or wherever!  It is a sandwich shop and it was so freaking good.  Get a small glass of wine to go with your food and you will have the best lunch ever -- just know that this place always has a line, but it moves quickly.  And finally, you can't go to Italy without eating gelato at least three times a day and you must have it at Perche No, it is the best in the city (in our opinion).
So there you have it -- an insanely quick weekend away to one of the best cities in the whole world!  And for those with kids, Italians love children and our Peanut was treated like a princess wherever we went.  Of course eating out with kids in Italy is insanely easy as well because every restaurant will make you butter noddles + Parmesan cheese (Serafina's plain noodles with butter + cheese were so good we wanted to order extra for the adults)!

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