Taking Firenze By Storm

by Anna
The fleur-de-lis is the ancient emblem of Florence

We couldn’t wait to get to Florence, not only because we were excited to go back to this beautiful city, but more importantly because we were meeting up with our friends, Brian and Marisa! My mom and Marisa’s mom have been best friends since before we were born so Marisa and I have grown up together, and her family is basically like my second family. Marisa and Brian were celebrating their one year wedding anniversary with a trip through Italy, and it worked out perfectly for us to rendezvous with them for a few days in Florence!

Piazza della Repubblica

Marisa and Johnny both studied abroad in Florence during college, so we luckily had built-in tour guides. We rented a funky little apartment a stone’s throw from Santa Croce and proceeded to take in as much of the city as we could in three days. Our first evening started off perfectly with a stroll down the Arno to the Ponte Vecchio and over to the Duomo, followed by some delicious Chianti in our apartment listening to Brian and Marisa’s insane travel day from LA to Venice, and topped off by dinner at Acqua al 2. Marisa remembered this restaurant from her time in Florence, and it lived up to her memories. While the girls shared the amazing pasta sampler, the boys each had an enormous steak smothered in what looked like thick chocolate sauce – don’t worry, it was actually balsamic. We ooohed and aaahhhed over each bite at dinner and decided that our inaugural Italian dinner together would not be complete without some gelato, which we found down the street from Santa Croce surrounded by overflowing bars and clubs. We didn’t end up at any of the bars or clubs because we were saving ourselves for our cooking class the next morning.

Our apartment Santa Croce, in all its glory, at the end of our street
The Duomo
Ponte Vecchio Ponte Vecchio
Dinner at Acqua Al 2 “Chocolate” steak
Is that some gelato in your beard?

The cooking class was awesome. So awesome, in fact, that we decided to give it its own blog post … coming soon!

Top chefs Sherwood Top chefs Bailey

Following the five and a half hours that we spent cooking and indulging in delicious food and wine, we headed over to the Uffizi and wandered the statue-lined halls, admiring all the beautiful artwork. We decided that Bronzino’s naked double-sided dwarf, “Portrait of Dwarf Morgante” took the cake as the most unexpected and favorite painting of the day. We concluded our Uffizi tour with a wine and beer break at the Uffizi’s rooftop café. I would probably buy a Uffizi ticket just to come to this café with its amazing view and nice cool breeze.

At the Uffizi
Enjoying the Uffizi’s rooftop cafe And its great view…

After a little more wandering around Florence we headed to dinner at Osteria de’ Pazzi. Everything we ordered was delicious, and Brian and Marisa went above and beyond and treated us to our meal. Johnny and I didn’t think it could get any better, but it did (as most things in Italy tend to do) with two rounds of Limoncello, one of which was on the house since Brian had befriended our waiter over the course of our meal.

Dinner at Osteria De’ Pazzi Limoncello came out to play

After dinner we thought we’d join the party on the steps of Santa Croce. We had noticed the night before that it seemed to be the PTB (Place To Be), so we grabbed a bottle of Chianti and some to-go cups and posted up on the steps of this stunning church. Brian and Johnny were on a roll, and we ended up going through a couple bottles till 2am on the steps which were still as crowded and going strong when we finally dragged ourselves off to bed.

Santa Croce rising up over our heads
Chianti, to-go cups, some 13th century Franciscan church steps and good friends
Johnny really wanted to stay and join in on the drum circle that had started on the steps

Although Johnny and Brian were feeling a little less than stellar from their red wine consumption the night before, we rose bright and early the next morning to head to the Accademia Gallery to see our main man, David. He was just as good looking and impressive in sheer size and perfection as I remembered.

He needs no introduction

Once we had our fill, we left David and gathered our things for an excursion back to Greve in Chianti. Since Brian and Marisa didn’t have any of the Tuscany countryside on their itinerary, we all agreed that we should take advantage of our close proximity while in Florence. Johnny and I had had such an awesome time on our scooter ride the week before, that we decided to pay our friend at the scooter shop in Greve (only an hour bus ride from Florence) a return visit and rent scooters for the afternoon. We had such a blast riding all together through the gorgeous Tuscan countryside, stopping in Panzano, Radda and Castellina, and ending the tour with some wine and antipasti at our favorite wine bar in Greve, Bottega del Moro.

Biker dudes in Greve’s Piazza Matteotti
Brian & Marisa on the Chianti road Ready to ride
Chianti We couldn’t stay away from the Gallo Nero

That night, back in Florence, we had another tasty meal at Osteria de’ Benci followed by some of the best gelato we’ve had so far at Vivoli.

Dinner at Osteria de’ Benci Brian’s wine-soaked pasta

Our final morning, making sure to take advantage of our last few hours in Florence, we set off to climb all 463 steps to the top of the Duomo. The huffing and puffing up the narrow spiral staircases was definitely worth it for the amazing views inside and out of the frescoes and panoramics of the city.

Climbing the Duomo
Up close and personal with the Duomo’s frescoes
We made it to the top! The shadow of the Duomo on the city below
Taking in the view

With our legs thoroughly warmed up and toned (read: shaking and burning), we set off across the Arno to climb more steps to take in another jaw dropping view from Piazza Michelangelo and the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte. Along the way Marisa and I did a little shopping at San Lorenzo Market and also hung a lock with all of our names onto another cluster of locks on the Ponte Vecchio. According to legend, if you and your loved one lock a padlock to the bridge, your love will last forever and you’ll one day return to Florence. I hope this is the case, because we had a wonderful, memorable few days with Brian and Marisa in Firenze, and feel so lucky to have had this experience with such dear friends!!

Locks of love
Marisa + Brian Anna + Johnny
San Miniato
Views from Piazza Michelangelo Looking back at the Duomo that we had just scaled

4 Responses to “Taking Firenze By Storm”

  1. Love this post! Brought back many fond memories of Florence…what a great city! Sounds like you all enjoyed it to the max 🙂 xx

  2. I love Italy! These pics bring back so many great memories.

  3. What an amazing time we had with you guys! I have the best memories of Florence from studying there years ago, but now have even better memories from our time spent together there! Firenze will always hold a special place in my heart. We were sure great travel buddies, it went by way too fast! xoxo


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