We arrived in Florence via train and after a series of somewhat confusing bus rides, finally made our way to our hostel, the Tasso Hostel in the Oltrarno quarter.
The hostel was within walking distance to everything we wanted to see in the city. It was also very clean, had a full bar and a stage where local musicians and actors sometimes performed and a wonderful outdoor patio with a nightly happy hour.
We opted to stay in a three person room to save on costs. Our mystery roommates (we ended up with two throughout our 5 night stay) could have gone either way but both ended up being lovely people who we became fast friends with, but more on them later. After becoming acquainted with the hostel, we wasted no time hitting the streets of Florence to do a little exploring!
I quickly got the impression that Florence is a city that always has a lot going on and thus quite fun to visit at all times. Several big events were taking place during our time there, the first of which was one of the tri-annual Calcio Fiorentino (historic football) matches. A team from each quartiere of the city is represented, each with their own specific colors/emblems etc.
Apparently the matches can become really violent with choking, punching and head butting all being allowed, but before the games, everyone takes to the streets for a very civilized parade.
We enjoyed the parade but opted out of the match and did a little evening sightseeing around the Duomo instead.
Our sightseeing was interrupted by yet another parade, this one seemingly with Hindu origins?
After parade number two our stomachs were rumbling and we decided to find a restaurant nearby. We opted for the Ristorante Caffe Giotto, a reasonably priced pizza/pasta restaurant just outside of the Duomo.
We split a caprese salad and Haley ordered the fettucine with smoked salmon while I opted for the lasagna.
I never order lasagna when I eat out in the states since portions tend to be huge which is often a direct negative correlation to the quality; lots of chewy noodles, very little yummy fillings. I’m not sure what made me step out of the box (probably the fact that I was in actual Italy instead of at the Olive Garden) but boy am I glad I did! The noodles were paper thin and the meat sauce super flavorful. Hands down the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten!
We stopped by the Basilica Santa Maria Novella before heading back to our hostel for the evening.
We woke up early the next day and made our way to the Piazza della Repubblica for our first walking tour of the day.
The tour was fabulous and informative and took us through many of the most famous sights of Florence; squares filled with famous sculptures, palaces that once belonged to the wealthiest Florentine families, famous churches and the iconic Ponte Vecchio.
We then took a tour of the Uffizi Gallery, I enjoyed the art but this was by far my least favorite tour of the entire trip. Not nearly as interesting to me as the architecture, sculptures etc. Do it if you are an art buff but if you are on a limited schedule I’d skip it. We stopped for a pizza and to do a little shopping while we waited for our next tour to begin; The Official David Tour.
You can’t go to Florence and not see Michelangelo’s David. This is definitely worth buying a tour ticket for as the lines can be extra long otherwise.
No photos of the real thing allowed (the one above is a replica statue) but there are about a billion on the internet if you need a David refresher.
The next morning we had to be up bright and early for our tour of Tuscany, and that’s where I’ll pick up next time!