March 13, 2010 - Florence
Due to the airline strike in Athens, we lost one day of Florence! We took the earliest train from Rome to Florence, travel time was around 1 hour and 35 minutes. We ordered the Eurail Italy Rail 4 Day Pass prior to our trip because it was on sale and I was qualified as a youth. I compared the price of buying individual tickets vs the pass, the pass is a bit more expensive but it does have the flexibility. Using the pass was easy, first it has to be activated by going in the train station and get it stamped. There were counters for the Eurail pass in Rome Termini Station where we can have our pass activated and buy boarding tickets for Rome -> Florence. The train ride was comfortable, trains have power outlet and USB plug so you can use your electronic devices.
We arrived in Florence finally! I booked Hotel Delle Nazioni which was only a few minutes walk from the train station. The hotel was okay, the bathroom was small but I wouldn't complain about it for one night stay! After checked in and settled down, we grabbed a map from our hotel and walked toward Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore / Duomo, the most famous basilica of Florence! We walked by a Chinese restaurant so we decided to have lunch first in there. After a week in Europe, we started to miss rice LOL! The food was okay.
After lunch, we went straight to Duomo which was really close by. The structure was AMAZING, it was huge! Even the word "beautiful" couldn't fully described the beauty of this basilica! Here are pictures from different sides of Duomo:
The line to enter the basilica was extremely long so we didn't went in since we only have one day in Florence! Next, we walked to Palazzo Vecchio, around 7 minutes walk, here we saw the replica of Michelangelo's David:
I really like the atmosphere in this city square; its people, its artists, and its buildings made me felt like I am back to the Italian Renaissance!
Artist's chalk art on the street of Florence! They were everywhere and really cool to see!
Beautiful water fountains:
Street performers are all over the city:
We followed the signs and walked toward Ponte Vecchio, around 10 minutes walk. The city was very walk-able! The view of Ponte Vecchio was incredible. I love the feeling of standing in front of a view that I have seen in postcards or online pictures. That feeling of "OMG I can't believe I am here!".
We walked across the famous Ponte Vecchio, the bridge was literally filled with jewelry shops! I never see so much gold in one place before LOL!
This was a very cute pair of rings!
After the bridge, there were many other cute shops too like this one:
Italian pizzas yummy!
We followed the signs once again to "hike" up the Piazzale Michelangelo. Here I was climbing the stairs LOL! Don't worry, it wasn't as bad as I look!
It was well worth it! It was picturesque from up here! The view of Florence is the best, such a beautiful city! The Duomo and Ponte Vecchio can be seen from up here:
I really enjoyed overlooking the birthplace of Italian Renaissance - Florence!
Love this plaza up on the hill!
Even the lamp pole was so artistic!
Relax and enjoy life :)
Breathtaking view of the Duomo from Piazzale Michelangelo!
I don't want to leave but ...... we walked back down back to the Duomo area. I saw this cute bus, it was really short!
Back to the Duomo - Giotto's bell tower again, one more view of it:
After walking around the beautiful city, we went back to our hotel, rest, and research on where to have our dinner. I have read about the famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina (t-bone steak) so we have to try it out! We read recommendations online about this local restaurant - Trattoria Da Giorgio at Via Palazzuolo, 100. Bistecca alla Fiorentina could be very expensive if the restaurant charges per 100 grams but this local restaurant has a fixed-price menu for 25 euros only! The restaurant was near our hotel too so we went! We found the restaurant and went in!
We were nervous about it at first because it was small and we were the only ones in there. But then within minutes, it filled up with locals! They only have Italian menu, no English menu, waiter and waitress can't speak English as well so it was very authentic! But, we were here for the Bistecca alla Fiorentina so it was easy to figure out! The 25 euros menu included Bistecca alla Fiorentina, water, and listen to this....carafe of red wine! They also have the regular menu of 13 euros which included first course, second course, dessert, water, and also carafe of red wine!! My husband ordered the Bistecca alla Fiorentina menu and I ordered from the regular 13 euros menu since we wanted to try out new things. I randomly picked out the first and second course from the Italian menu haha since I don't understand Italian! We said no to wine because I can't drink alcohol but they gave it to us anyways. It was as much as like a one-liter coke! My husband tried it out and he said it tasted very good! We were like the only English tourists in the restaurant LOL!
What I ordered came out to be pork in creamy sauce which was really good!
Steak came and wow it was huge!
I took the first bite and absolutely amazed by how good it was! The steak was tender, it tasted a bit fruity-sweet taste to it very unique, I never have a steak tasted like that. It is the BEST steak I ever have in my life! 100% recommended if you ever visit Florence, it is a must!!!!
For dessert, I ordered .... tiramisu of course!
Love the food, it was my best dinner in Italy!
On the way back to our hotel, we still talked about how good it was, if we ever visit Florence again, we'll definitely come back to this restaurant! After we got back to our hotel, we pack and then sleep so we are ready to travel to Venice tomorrow!!!