Our friend Naomi from Denver is currently living in Indonesia. She is a teacher & decided to spend her summer break exploring Europe. She emailed me back in December her plans and an idea of the places that she wanted to go. Naomi spent a little over a month in Europe, starting in Luxembourg & meeting up with another Denver friend. They traveled to Switzerland, Austria, Prague, the Netherlands & Belgium. As I mentioned, she joined us for a couple days in the south of France after her stop in Belgium. A few days after we got back from France, I left to join Naomi for two weeks in Italy. This was the last leg of her trip. We met at the train station in Florence & located our hostel that we were going to stay in for the next four nights. Our hostel was located in the Santa Maria Novella area. It was a 15-20 minute walk to the main railroad station and the city center. Here are a few highlights from our time in Florence:
Piazza Del Duomo: The Cattedrale di Santa Maria is the city’s landmark, as the massive white, pink & green marble structure is hard to miss & quite interesting to admire. It is free to visit the church. We stood in line to enter the church but when we got to the entrance, we were not properly dressed in shorts & sleeveless shirts, therefore we were not allowed in. We came back the next day in sundresses and had a scarf to drape around our shoulders. It was so hot in Italy during our stay that you didn’t want to be covered up but to enter all the churches you needed to be!
Ponte Vecchio: This bridge that crosses the Arno was built in 1345 and houses many jewelry shops today.
Shopping: Florence is a great place for shopping! While most of the tourists were visiting the many museums that Florence is known for, Naomi & I were hitting all the shopping areas. We purchased bags, shoes, dishes & few other items. Our suitcases were noticeably heavier after our four days in Florence. We visited the Mercato Nuovo, which is an outdoor market with many booths selling cheap leather goods. We also shopped in the boutique and artsy shops in Oltrarno.
Piazza della Signoria: We did visit one museum, the Gucci Museo, which was located in the Piazza della Signoria. In 1921 Guccio Gucci founded the fashion company in Florence. We saw how he started out making leather cases and trunks and from there moved into fashion. I love fashion and after seeing the YSL exhibit in Denver a couple years ago and while my mom was here visiting, we visited the Karl Lagerfeld exhibit in Bonn, this was something that I wanted to visit! They had a nice café, where we spent an hour or two after touring & to get out of the sun.
Food & Drink: We ate pasta & pizza the first couple of days in Florence. Afterwards, we didn’t feel that we needed to eat that any more! It was hot (did I mention that already?!) & we just wanted lighter meals. We ate lots of gelato but discovered that the fruit sorbet was the most refreshing. We were thankful for the many water fountains throughout all the Italian cities, allowing us to fill up our water bottles multiple times through the day.
Street Art: You don’t need to visit a museum to see some art in Florence. The street artists give tourists and residents something interesting to see on every street corner or alley. The most famous artist is Clet Abraham, who has been modifying street signs with stickers. It was fun to spot the signs that he has changed.
Forte di Belvedere: We walked up to this fortress to get views of the city. It was built between 1590 & 1595. Today, it hosts art exhibits.
Piazza Michelangelo: This was one of the last things we did during our time in Florence. We hiked up to this piazza and were rewarded with more beautiful views of the city.
After those four days, we said goodbye to Florence & headed north.