Welcome to Connor Capitolo our first guest editor! Connor traveled to Florence, Italy, this summer with his family and captured his favorite sights and bites to share with the Sweet Travels Community. Happy Reading or Buon Divertimento!
This was the first time for me traveling to Italy, and out of all the places we visited, Florence was my favorite. It was small enough so it was easy to find our way around and walk everywhere. It had a great atmosphere with friendly people, but there was just too much to fit into only five days. The shops, restaurants, and sights were incredible, and there wasn’t a place that we went to in Florence that I didn’t love. It is always difficult with a family of five (with kids ranging from 10-19) to get everyone on the same page and excited, but I think we did a pretty good job.
Sweet Bites not to miss:
Cioccogelateria Venchi, http://www.venchi.com/uk/corporate/store/firenze/
Delicious gelato and an astounding number of different chocolate combinations to try out. There were two ten-foot tall walls covered with different kinds of chocolate. Even if you’re not hungry for a sweet treat, you have to check out the chocolate fountain cascading down the wall behind the counter!
Gelateria Santa Trinita, http://www.gelateriasantatrinita.it/index_ing.html
Expansive selection of homemade gelatos to choose from, and the best mint gelato I’ve ever had! No matter what size you get, you’ll be sure to get two scoops of whatever combination you want. Also a great area to walk around and look out over the Arno River.
Restaurants worth the visit:
Gusta Pizza, https://www.facebook.com/Gusta-Pizza-151318588242027/
A very popular spot near the Pitti Palace that serves some of the best pizza in Florence, especially the margarita pizza. It is reasonably priced, and a lot of fun watching the chefs use their gigantic wood fire oven.
Trattoria 4 Leoni, http://www.4leoni.it/4Leoni/?lang=en
Located on a bustling palazzo with several popular restaurants in the square, it is a great place to sit outside for dinner on a warm night. The Florentine steak coupled with the roasted potatoes was delicious and big enough to split between three men. The chocolate cheesecake was another one of their specialties and definitely a must-have.
Ristorante Buca Mario, http://www.bucamario.com/eng-menu.php
A favorite restaurant among tourists and locals alike. It is best to have reservations as there is a huge line extending out the door from the time they open. The pastas were delicious and the Florentine steak looked amazing.
Fun Things To Do:
Arnold Coffee, http://www.arnoldcoffee.it/index.php?lang=en
Right across the street from the Grand Hotel Baglioni and a block away from the train station. Free Wi-Fi (the Wi-Fi in Florence is terrible) and a nice quiet spot to work in the bustling city. One of the few places that serve large, American style coffee if you are craving something bigger than the small cups of Italian espresso.
Viewing the statue, David
Located at Accademia di Belle Arte di Firenze, we took a very informative hour-long tour learning about the life of Michelangelo and most of his paintings/sculptures. The sight of David did not disappoint.
The rooftop decks at The Grand Hotel Baglioni, http://www.hotelbaglioni.it/index_eng.html, and Westin Excelsior, http://www.westinflorence.com/, for late afternoon drinks give a 360-degree view of the city. A beautiful place to watch the sun fall behind the mountains as the last rays of light illuminate the city.
These beautiful gardens decorated with statues and artwork dating back to the 16th century are directly behind the Pitti palace that housed many of the Medicis.
The palace contains an art gallery where you can see the outfits of the extremely wealthy in Florence dating back to the 1800s. The main courtyard is always busy with people setting up for a concert or play.
Our time in Florence came to an end all too soon. Next on my list of things to do in Florence…
Climb the hundreds of stairs to the top of Il Duomo, go for a run along the Arno river through the Parco delle Cascine, check out The Four Seasons Florence (rumored to be one of the most spectacular hotels in Europe), and take a day trip to the high-end outlets outside the city (Prada, Gucci, Fendi, and Roberto Cavalli). I will always look back on my time in Florence with fond memories and hope to return there to study abroad next year.