Among all the cities we visited in Italy, I must say it was Florence that totally blew me away. Not as grand as Rome, not as touristy as Venice, Florence has kept its old world charm and managed to keep me and my husband captivated for 4 days. I wish we could have stayed longer.
The first thing that impressed me about Florence was the B&B (Bed and Breakfast) we stayed in. Residenza Giotto is an apartment right in the heart of the city- a few steps away from the Duomo. The moment we stepped inside, we knew we were home. How I wish I took photos with the charming and gracious hosts but we were too much in a hurry to get started on our Florentine adventure.
Just like in Venice, the first order of the day for us when we got to Florence was to find a place for lunch. Giorgio, one of our B&B hosts, directed us to Trattoria Marione. It was not even ten minutes away from our B&B. It was packed with locals and we had to wait a while to get a table. But the wait was worth it. The waiters were a bit irritable (there were a LOT of people) but the food arrived minutes after we ordered and it was soooo good. We shared a Seafood Risotto and a bowl of Ribollita. Risotto is quite familiar to all so I will only try to describe what Ribollita is. It’s a traditional Tuscan meal- usually cooked during the winter- made with broth, stale bread and “cheap” vegetables like cabbage and carrots. The bread soaks all the broth turning the whole thing into this heavy pile of mushy goodness. Sooooooo good. I loved the handwritten menu in Marione, too.
After a heavy meal, we decided to take a walk along Florence’s charming streets. Bikes seem to be the favored mode of transportation here.
Our feet took us to Ponte Santa Trinita. From this bridge, we got a good glimpse of the beautiful Ponte Vecchio- the oldest, most photographed bridge in all of Florence.
It is now filled and crammed with gold shops and tourists. So many people want to stay on the bridge to watch the Arno river flow by. My favorite spot is to stand directly opposite it (on Ponte Santa Trinita) and admire it from a distance. Beautiful!
After taking it all in, we decided to explore further and went all the way to Boboli Gardens. Unfortunately, the park was closed. It was nice just walking around, though. So many people were taking photos by the charming little stores and cafes that line the street leading to Boboli. My husband thought it was interesting to take photos of these motorcycles. Go figure!
A full day of walking made us so hungry. Good thing that our B&B hosts had already reserved dinner spots for us at Sostanza. A restaurant that’s even older than the Philippines- it serves the best Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak) and Petti de Pollo Al Burro (Butter Chicken) in town! We weren’t disappointed at all. Best meal in Italy by far!
Walking back to our B&B that first night, our bellies full and warm, we spotted this beautiful tree by the Duomo. I don’t know what it is about Christmas trees outside churches in Italy at night that captivate me. I couldn’t help but wish at this time that we had our kids with us.