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Florence, A Day in the City

When life gets tough, sometimes it’s easiest to run. Escape normal life as you know it, ignite your senses and find you again. Oh boy, life’s been running at one thousand miles per hour lately and I knew the only way to slow everything down was to get away.

A miserable Thursday evening and a few glass of wine later, our flights were booked to Italy.

Since my incredible trip to Venice late last year, I’ve been dreaming of days spent galivanting around Italy in the summer sun wearing floaty dresses with a large cone of gelato in hand. It seemed the perfect location for our getaway and so, a week later, we arrived in beautiful Florence.

Florence is the queen bee of Tuscany. Soaked in architecture, gelato bars and plenty of tourists, its a rabbit run for keen little explorers…

With just 3 days in the city, we wanted a mix of culture and relaxation. Our amazing B&B (more on that later) was just a short walk from the city centre and voila, we’d arrive at our first stop of the day, The Duamo. A magnificent cathedral which dominates the Florence skyline.

Early morning is the best time to beat the tourist and the inevitable cue’s, but perhaps miss the buffet breakfast for this one! 427 steep steps and lots of passing traffic up the narrow tower, what is revealed once you reach the top is unbelievable.

From the sky Florence is even more magical. What is great about conquering the Duamo first is that you get a feel for the size of the city. You get your bearings. You can map the major attractions (Scott likes to close his eyes and imagine he’s accessing the Google Map which he calls his brain, geek) making navigating amongst the tourists that little bit easier.

I’d thrown on my new floaty Zara dress (yes, those dreams again) and H&M fedora to keep me nice and cool.

Back in the streets we stumbled across the first of many street artists. Taking the name “street artists” to the extreme, they use the pavements as frames, set out their money pots and begin their masterpieces.

We navigated our way through the picture perfect streets until we reached the infamous Ponte Vecchio bridge crossing the Arno River.

It’s as much of a tourist attraction as the rest of Florence so we waded our way through the crowds, pasts the numerous Gold shops on the way to find some peace and quite.

From the other side of the river, life is much slower. Locals meander around with their handbag dogs and the smell of coffee drifts through the streets from the tiny cafe’s nestled within.

Our next tourist stop, Piazzale Michelangelo.

Undeniably, the best views in the city.

I had my handy tour guide on hand at all times. You know, got to join in with this tourist thing sometimes!

We’re not really ones for museums of renaissance art we don’t really understand. We had other ideas to escape the heat…

Ice cold beers.

We spent the rest of the afternoon hopping from one cafe to the next, drinking ice cold beers all the whole way home. But all this sight seeing is pretty hungry work…

One thing I’ d been told we must not miss, and in my opinion something that blows all the other sights out of the water, Bistecca alla fiorentina (that iss Florentine Steak to you and me). The ultimate delicasy of Florence, a very rare and very large serving of thick cut T-Bone steak served with a glass of Chianti Classico at my favourite resturant in Florence, Ristorante Alborada.

The most perfect end to a day in the city.

venice, part 4

So, its my last post from our wonderful adventure in Venice.

Naturally we started off in Lido, eating chocolate logs sent from heaven, coffee given by the gods and watching the local Venetians go by their Sunday business.

After a dose of caffeine, we hopped on the bus boat to Murano which is just north of Venice. Famous for its Murano Glass production, Murano is industrial and different to Venice itself. The smoke pluming chimneys pop up in-between the beautifully coloured buildings which are remnant of Venice, but so different.

After wheeling our suitcases around the cobbled streets, it was time for more coffee.

Another delicious italian latte down.

Murano glass is everywhere to be seen. From the sculpture’s which pop up like alien creatures, to the millionth Murano Glass shop which lines the canals. Equally as beautiful as the next.

In this mist of this quaint industrial town, Venice still shines through. The canals cast beautiful reflections of the gorgeous architecture which heads out to the sea. Boats are moored up waiting for their owners and the smell of Italian pizzas drift through the streets.

We went into our umpteenth Murano Glass store in the desperate search for a pandora charm for Mums bracelet.

And then it was time to say good bye.

Hold on, not without one last bite of pizza.

On our way back to the ferry terminal, we decided to take a “detour”.  What we discovered were idyllic backstreets which looked like something from the industrial revolution. I seized the moment…

And with a click of the heel…

We were on the plane home. Venice was a magical and inspiring adventure, one that I will never ever forgot. Thank you Italy, I will be back.

 

venice, part 3

Our penultimate day in Venice was a foggy one. The whole place changes from a bright and colourful wilderness, to a gloomy and mysterious James Bond-esque scene.

With that in mind, we decided to make a trip to Gallerie dell’Accademia which is a stunning building full of Venetian 17th century art. My trusty Lonely Planet guide came in particularly handy as (to my disappointment) there was no English translation for descriptions of particular pieces. With that said, it is well worth a visit.

We then headed to the more residential Canneragio district on the northern tip of Venice taking a trip by boat up the Grande Canal. We used Alilguna bus boats while travelling around Venice. It is less popular than the main ACTV boats, but be warned, ACTV boats get extremely busy as it is the primary boat bus provider for local Venetians. Buy a 72 hour Alilguna pass online before you travel for 55 Euros and you get a free cruise up the Grande Canal.

Bag: H&M, Skirt: River Island (on sale now!), Pumps: Primark, Jacket: Primark, Hat: H&M

Heading back from the Cannaragio, we stopped on the Rialto bridge to take in the hustle and bustle of the Grande Canal.

It really is a beautiful work of art and one of only 2 bridge that cross the Grande Canal.

When in Venice, you must take a trip on a Gondola. Whether you pay for a short trip, or a long relaxing journey throughout Venice, it”s just a must.

Make your selection well, and you could end up with a gorgeous Italian.

We paid 100 Euros for our trip around the Rialto bridge area and up the Grande Canal. It was well worth the money, and one of the most relaxing things we did while in Venice.

Next stop, afternoon tea in St Marks Square. Again, choose your cafe well and you’ll be treated with orchestral entertainment.

We opted for very posh filter coffee which really were not as fancy as they’re made out to be.

A little regret was that we didn’t go up the bell tower before the fog came in (which was still in fog-force come the afternoon). Regardless, we paid our 8 Euros and took the 99 story elevator to the top. The views are magnificent, fog or no fog and well worth the trip up (and the que).

Venice is transformed into a model village from the skies.

St Marks Square looks medieval and ghostly.

But really, Venice you are so beautiful.