ITALY embodies history, renaissance and has 47 World Heritage sites and treasure of masterpieces. Florence embodies the renaissance, intellectual, artistic and cultural centre of Italy. Florence with its beautiful architecture, historic presence, beautiful vineyards of Tuscany and heaven for foodies is definitely impressive and beautiful. We took off to Italy in the last week of June and had booked our train tickets too while planning the itinerary. Train fares in Europe keep on changing so sooner u book the better but trains in Italy are relatively cheap as compared to other European countries, visit TRENITALIA website.We planned our itinerary keeping the travel capacity of our son in mind and stroller is one important thing to pack if travelling with kids.
How to reach– Tuscany has two international airports, the Galileo Galilei International Airport in Pisa and Amerigo Vespucci Airport, also known as Peretola, in Florence. Located only 80 km apart, the Pisa airport is the larger of the two airports. Both airports handle flights to major European cities. FLORENCE is about 2 hours from Rome if u board the high-speed train (FRECCIAROSSA/FRECCIORGENTO). TRAVEL TIP...DO CHECK THE FESTIVALS HAPPENING DURING THE VISIT AND BOOK TICKETS IN ADVANCE.
Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy. Our hotel was near the city centre which is near the magnificent DUOMO. We could see it during our breakfast from the terrace. Florence took my heart away from the time I started walking down Florence’s main square PIAZZA DEL DUOMO, the most lively place in the city. Santa Maria del Fiore or DUOMO is an iconic landmark with its red-tiled dome, a bell tower and a colourful facade, they say it took 150 years to complete it. There are 463 steep stone steps to the dome(entry is free but to the dome is chargeable)which gives a panoramic view of the city of houses with red roofs.
Florence is best covered by foot but it is vast ,so if travelling as a couple one can take a BIKE TOUR. Many companies give a full day trek which includes a couple of meals too.Sit at the Piazza Del Duomo for sometime …imbibe the beauty, the culture, try some snacks there …I liked the arachini or have GELATO, weather was awesome sunny….rainy..windy all in a day ,so keep the jackets,umbrellas handy always and also the sheet that covers the stroller.Whatever it was ,was relaxing in all its beauty.
EATING IN ITALY-One has to understand various places to eat before entering… RISTORANTE –formal service, fine dining, have several courses. ,TRATTORIA -a family-owned version of the restaurant, warmer, relaxed service with regional specialities(my favourite throughout) OSTERIA-is more focussed on wine bar type with few dishes. PIZZERIA-A great place to a have a go-to meal with chilled beer but with a long queue. (Be sure of the timings of the place]
But we tried to eat and drink like locals. It was great walking down the streets with stores(high end and regular) and eating joints on both sides of the road led to the statue of DAVID by Michelangelo at PALAZZO VECCHIO, which is the town hall of Florence. .Say ciao to David and other structures there. My son loved as we reached any Plaza, as he used to unlock himself from stroller and run all over the place.From there we walked towards PONTE VECCHIO one of the oldest bridge of Florence on river Arno. The bridge is buzzing with jewellery shops lined up. Walk down to PALAZZO PITTI…we rested there at the square and then took a bus back to the hotel.
Trattoria Mario and Trattoria Za Za are highly recommended for eating.
A day trip to PISA from Florence is a great option. It takes about 50 mins to reach the university town of PISA by train. Buses are an option to reach the tower from the station but we preferred to stroll along the river ARNO. The LEANING TOWER is not a tall tower but the tilt is remarkable and u cannot believe your eyes at first sight. Access to the tower is limited and chargeable. One can book the ticket to the tower online or otherwise it costs around 15–18 euros. It is an excellent place to click amazing pictures. Apart from Leaning tower, there is PISA BAPTISTERY, PISA CATHEDRAL to be seen in PISA COMPLEX. This can also be a half-day visit to Pisa from Florence. Spend the day around and head back to Florence or can stay back and visit after dark when night gives a beautiful picture of the shining white monuments.
After lazying around and shopping in Florence the next day,for about till noon in the city we eventually decided to take a detour and do some wine tasting at GREVE in Chianti . It takes about an hour if travel by bus( SITA BUSES).Its a beautiful road journey looking at the rolling hills and vineyards around. The picturesque village of Greve gives us a sense of true country life. Did some wine tasting, bought a couple of bottles, had some bread and cheese and headed back to Florence. There are many wine tasting tours to Greve .
Florence stole my heart from the word go. Travelling with a child makes your travel a little limited…but just relaxing in the park or piazza seeing your child running around in awesome weather and playing football with the local kids brings a smile to your face….