We’ve arrived in the land of pizza, pasta and vino! We couldn’t be happier to be starting our vacation in the beautiful city of Florence (Firenze). I’ve been to Rome and Venice but a first time traveler to Florence and the first steps out of the cab were ones I will never forget. There is so much life and so much to be said for how unapologetic the Italian culture is. I can’t get enough of the body language heavy culture and lack of personal bubbles most locals have. They are who they are and if you don’t like it too bad for you!

We stayed right in the Piazza Della Repubblica at an unbelievable hotel in a historic building. It was in the classic Renaissance style with windows that opened out the street. From there you could hear scooters and honking, mobs of people walking by, teenagers sitting having a smoke or making out. It may be loud to some but it just felt so full of life! And after living in a purell world of small talk on the cruise ship for 4 months we were ready to experience being around people of all ages especially at night (it’s the little things!)

We decided day one to just EAT our way through Italy, since there really is no other way.
Bring on the anti pastas, and bring us another bottle of wine. I’ve fallen in love with caprese salad and prosciutto with cantaloupe. Mmmmm don’t get me started on the carbohydrate heavy meals…there isn’t enough space in the blog.

So over our three full days in Firenze with Rick Steve’s “Florence and Tuscany” guide book and me as the appointed tour guide, we had a lovely balance of wandering, sight seeing and lingering meals. We saw all the biggies- Uffizi Gallery with the greatest collection anywhere of Italian paintings, the Academia with Michelangelo’s 17 foot tall “David”, wandered to Ponte Vecchio and the Pitti Palace with it’s beautiful gardens. Sunday ended up being the best day to go to the Pitti palace and Academia because both were free! Woo HOO! Maybe the first Sunday of the month has something to do with it.

We enjoyed two of the best meals with views at Golden View Open Bar in Oltrarno and Sesio on top of the Westin on Piazza Ognissanti. The first on the other side of the Arno river in Oltrarno was absolutely perfect for our first lunch spot in the city. We got to drink wine and look out to Ponte Vecchio and could not have been more spell bound by the terra cotta heaven all around. The second was at sunset with the PERFECT lighting and view of the major city sights.

On our last day in the city we adventured about an hour and a half away to the magical land of Cinque Terre as my birthday treat! The five small towns isolated in the Italian Rivera are pedestrian only zones so we took a boat ride from one to the next. Stopped to have local white Cinque Terre wine from the area, gawk at the colorful beauty around us and toast to the best year of my life. It couldn’t have started out any better!

I am mesmerized by how bright Florence shines. Our travels continue through Tuscany to Capri and finally back up to Rome. Bring on La Dolce Vita!!