A city we instantly fell in love with! We got into the city around 1pm that day after taking a quick pit stop in Pisa and checked into our hotel The St. Regis Florence. Florence wasn’t actually too far from Pisa and it was a straight shot on the train over to Florence
Ahh, The St. Regis, Hands down one of the nicest hotels we have ever been to or stayed at! Just take a look through the photos on the link and you’ll see what I mean! We highly recommend this hotel. Also if you have starwood points even better! The hotel had actually just opened up after a renovation back in May. We were truly impressed by the decor inside and the room was exactly what we needed!
(Yes thats a TV in the Mirror!)
(view from our room)
We settled in a bit and freshened up and we headed out! Our first stop was the duomo in the center of the city. On the way there we stopped at this little cafe where we ordered some sandwiches and a “tuscan” soup. (I was told it was like a thick and hearty vegetable soup, it was really good). The hotel was in such a great area, b/c everything was really accesible and was right along the river. Once we got to the duomo, we decided to climb the steps! Paul had told us about climbing the steps and how you really had two options to do so. You could either climb the bell tower or the cathedral. We chose to climb the bell tower so that we could get a view of florence that included the cathedral! Oh man, climbing these things were no joke! By the time we got to the top we were pretty tired! But it was definitely worth it! At the top of the tower, everything was surrounded by these wires, we felt like we were in a huge bird cage! I was still able to squeeze my camera through the holes though and got some great shots of the whole city.
After the duomo we decided to head back to the hotel and get ready for dinner. We hadn’t made reservations to go to the Ufizi, and really regretted not doing so. We decided to ask the concierge to see if there was anything he could do to help us out. He told us that its pretty hard to get tickets the day before, but that he would try and see what he could do. We did have reservations for the accademia (the place where “Davids statue” is) so at least we knew we had one of the main places booked up!
Note to Friends: Make sure you book tickets online at tickitaly.com because most of these places get crazy busy! We got lucky b/c the hotel was able to get us tickets but I highly recommend you dont go through the hassle and book yours early!
We had reservations at Trattoria Sostanza (a place highly recommended from Paul and Melissa) for Florentine steak! Hands down probably the best steak i’ve ever had in my life!! We ordered the steak as well tas their butter chicken which was literally soaked in a pool of butter. Man oh man, it looked pretty unhealthy but was SOOOO GOOOOD. We sat at this big family style table and met some really nice people there. Apparently this place is pretty well known amongst tourist, and we met a family from Chicago, as well as a mother daughter combo from NYC. They actually gave us a bunch of pointers as well on where to go to and was super helpful.
Note to Friends: Go to Trattoria Sostanza if you are ever in Florence! The Best Steak Ever!!
After our awesome dinner we decided to head back to the hotel to get a early nights sleep and get ready for out big day of touring the city tomorrow! But f course, before we headed back we had to get some more Gelato! We wandered across the river to the other city of the city to a lovely gelato place and sat outside to eat our gelato and walked the long way back along the river back to the hotel. The city is gorgeous at night, with all the buildings lit up with the uplighting. I could see now why so many of our friends love this place.
We had our reservations for the Accademia at 11:15 so we headed out early and walked over to the place where David’s statue lies. When we got there, there was a HUGE line. Again, thank goodness that we had reservations or else it looked like it was going to be a 1+ hour wait. When we got to the reservations line, we were trying to ask around to see if we were in the right place. I must say, the guards and museum staff at this place were not very friendly or helpful. They pretty much ignored everyone that tried to ask them questions. Luckily we met a couple there from Chicago and got to talking with them and they also had the same time reservation as we did so we figured we had to be in the right place.
No pictures were allowed once we got into the Accademia, so I unfortunately wasn’t able to get any good shots while in there, but just around the corner there were all these ‘fake’ versions of the statues that we took a bunch of photos of instead! While inside though, the whole place is like one long hallway. At the end of the hallway was ‘David’. I hadn’t realized how enormous this statue was! I couldn’t even begin to imagine how Michelangelo was able to carve this statue. Truly a renaissance man, he was able to make the whole statue look so real even the muscles were carefully sculpted on how he stood. Really Amazing. You basically walk around the statue in this rotunda of sorts and then you start heading out. There really isnt that much more to see there other than the statue, so we decided to start heading out to our next stop, the Ufizi. (as I mentioned above, our concierge was able to score us our tickets, but make sure you reserve them beforehand!)
It was a scorcher that day in Florence! By the time we got to the museum we were pretty sweaty and in need of some A/C! Tons of people again here. We found our way to the reservations line which was much much shorter than the general admission line and off we were into the gallery! I think the A/C was off that day though in the museum so it was super hot inside! Of course, i had my audiobook again from Rick Steve and we went through the whole museum and learned a bit or two or three about the history of some of these amazing painters.
After we were done with the museum, we headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. We had a recommendation from Benson and Christine to go to a restaurant called Cantinetta Antinori so we had made reservations the night before to go try it out. Their family actually owns a bunch of restaurants and wineries throughout Italy and was pretty popular from what I could gather!
I had ordered the steak again there, was still really good, but i must say the night before at Trattoria Sostanza beat it hands down! Still a really nice dinner though and the food was superb.
Funny Story: There was a couple sitting across from us and he also ordered the steak, they seemed a bit ‘off’ from the moment we sat down, and didn’t really talk to each other the whole time. When he got his steak, he looked at the waiter and was like “Can I have some Steak Sauce??” the waiter looked at him in almost amazement and then ‘shrugged his shoulders’ and said “sorry we don’t have that” and walked away rolling his eyes at the couple!
Had dessert at a random Gelato place on the way back to the hotel and we decided to just walk around the city some more until we got tired and headed back to the hotel. We had a long and busy day touring all of Florence! Super tired by the end of the day but we absolutely loved Florence and want to definitely go back there one day. We left Florence the next day but before we left, we headed out to a famous Market that we were told to go to from our friends to try their ‘Pork Sandwiches’. Oh man! the sandwich was awesome! Place was called “Nerbone“. Make sure you go there! Besides the food there, they had some gnarly stuff for sale! (Check out the Cows head below!)
Alas, our time in Florence was over, we felt like we could have easily spent like a week in this city and told ourselves that we’d definitely be back someday.