Greetings friends! Today will be the fifth installment in my series recapping my two week trip to Europe. In case you missed the first leg of the trip, here are some links to catch you up:
Today’s post will cover our fifth day of vacation, including our travels from France to Italy, and our first (half) day in Florence.
After our final fancy dinner in Paris, we were up just a few hours later, around 4:00 AM or so, to catch our shuttle van to the airport, which picked us up at our hotel. After checking in and breezing through security, we had a pretty substantial wait until boarding time. Our terminal had just one large waiting area for all the gates. Twenty minutes prior to departure, a flight’s gate is announced, and everyone makes a mad dash to the gate. We then flew on what was probably the smallest plane I’ve ever been on, which probably isn’t even that small, but I bet it held under 100 people. The flight was only 90 minutes, and then we just SMACKED into the runway in Italy! Well hello to you, too!
The Florence airport was vastly different than the Paris airport (so much smaller, and we didn’t have to go through Passport Control this time!), and after departing our plane, probably five minutes later we were out of the airport and catching a cab at the (official) taxi stand. From there, it took about 15 minutes to get to our hotel.
As I anticipated might be the case, our friendly taxi driver informed us that our hotel was on a pedestrian-only street, and he wouldn’t be able to drop us right in front, but he dropped us off very close, and pointed us in the right direction.
Unfortunately our sense of direction is a little weak, and we were dropped off right in the middle of a huge market lining both sides of the streets, which hindered our view of the buildings behind the vendors! It just a leeeetle crazy! Finally, we figured out that we needed to walk on the sidewalks behind the stalls, and after lots of pacing up and down a few blocks, we found our hotel. The big sign on the hotel was labeled “Hotel Giada,” but upon further inspection, there was also a small sticker beside “Hotel Giada” that read the name of the hotel on all of the documents we had printed, associated with our booking, for the hotel “Corte Dei Medici,” where we actually stayed. I’m still a little unclear about the association between Hotel Giada and Corte Dei Medici, as it appears they share a reception and a building, but for the record, we booked Corte Dei Medici through Expedia. Here is a picture of the exterior of our hotel (the shortest, middle yellow building).
We were so very pleased with our stay at Corte Dei Medici! After checking in, we headed to our room, which was the only one in the hallway with a short staircase leading to the door. Once the door was unlocked, there was another staircase leading to our room!:
Once we walked up the stairs, we entered what I referred to as our “lair” for the next five nights. Coming from our itty-bitty Paris hotel room, our room at Corte Dei Medici in Florence seemed HUGE! And it was – long and somewhat narrow.
The the right of the staircase was the bed, closet, mounted TV, and mirror.
And to the left of the staircase was another twin bed, bench, desk – and within the desk, a mini fridge.
The bathroom was nice, also. The shower seemed so luxurious to us after our stay in Paris. And actually, even relative to any hotel I’ve stayed at before, I loved this bathroom, and the huge showerhead.
This room was basically a glorious haven for us for the next five nights. The best part!? Air conditioning! Another awesome factor: a completely silent room! We never heard a peep from the windows or neighboring rooms. This isn’t the most luxurious hotel ever, but it was probably one of my favorite hotels I’ve ever stayed in. Such a comfortable size! I believe we were upgraded from a double to a triple room, possibly. A breakfast buffet was also included in the price of our stay, which we enjoyed each morning. I totally recommend Corte Dei Medici for anyone visiting Florence. We were also able to walk everywhere we went in the city.
After stowing our luggage in our room, we headed a few doors down the street for lunch. After a lack of veggies in Paris, my body was truly craving veggies. Salad sounded amazing and I was rewarded with this really awesome Greek Salad at a nearby restaurant, packed with olives, feta, onion, and some superbly ripe tomatoes, which I drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Then we had a nap in our room! We were exhausted after waking up early and traveling.
In the evening, we ventured out to take care of a few errands, like finding an ATM, purchasing Firenze Cards from the Tourist Office, wandering the streets, and acquainting ourselves with the layout of the city.
And thus began my love affair with Florence!
Piazza della Signoria:
A glimpse of the Ponte Vecchio!
The plan for dinner? Why, to visit the pizzeria at which the Jersey Shore staffed worked, during the filming of Season 4 – Pizzeria O’Vesuvio!
It was lively here, but not crazy, when we visited. Lucky for us, the pizza was actually amazing! The huz and I split too. One, with mushrooms, sausage, and mozzarella…:
…And a second, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, sausage, and ham. This one was our favorite – awesome flavor! This place was pretty neat inside, where patrons can see their pizzas being assembled and cooked in a wood-fired oven while sitting at tables with barrels as chairs. Affordable too!
Florence at night – the streets are lively and filled with pedestrians. There are few cars driving through the heart of the city. All of the buildings are so beautiful and full of character. Also, there are basically about three gelato shops, minimum, per city block.
As has been documented in this blog, my love of gelato runs deep. That’s why, my goal when visiting Italy (which I basically met, for the record), was to eat gelato every.single.day that I was there.
We started working our way toward that goal by visiting Festival Del Gelato, recommended by my Frommer’s guide for it’s vast array of flavors.
I ate so.much.gelato during my time in Italy, that it might start to become difficult for me to remember every bowl of it; however, I do believe that for my very first bowl, I started out with three of my favorite, more traditional flavors:
- dark chocolate
We got an awesome view of Il Duomo during our walk back!