Europe Trip, Part 5: Florence

Sorry kids, still waiting on those race photos…

Since my hip has been a punk since my half marathon, I haven’t done anything too exciting in the exercise department. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t train for hills and then eat them for breakfast?

While we’re waiting, I thought I’d give y’all another Europe backpacking trip episode. For my newer readers, Kyle (my boyfriend) and I went backpacking through Europe January 2013. You can catch London, Paris, Barcelona, and Nice here.

We took the train from Nice to Florence. Or rather, from Nice –> Ventimiglia –> Milano –> Firenze (Florence). We got to stay in a hotel because it was cheaper than any hostel. Nothing fancy, we were still sharing a bathroom with the floor. After a not-so-impressive dinner, we went to get gelato. What else would we do in Italy? That right there was Biscottino (aka biscotti in my gelato aka so freaking good)

europe florence

And we walked around and admired the Duomo. My night photo isn’t great, so here she is during the day:

europe florence duomo

The next morning we went to the Uffizi, home of famous pieces such as the Birth of Venus, Baptism of Christ, etc. We spent a good part of the day there until we realized it was 2 PM and we hadn’t eaten lunch.

We walked around, looking for a particular restaurant that had good reviews, but we couldn’t find it. It was getting late and I was probably hangry at this point (Note: I’m a grazer and need to be fed small frequent meals or I get tired and punchy. Kyle can go all day and only eat 1 enormous meal. He will learn.). We stumbled upon La Mangiatoia- which turned out to be one of the best meals we would have on this trip.

europe florence pizza

Because it was probably around 3PM and we hadn’t eaten anything all day (hence the hangry Amy), we ordered a Margherita Pizza, Spaghetti al Ragu, AND Penne al Pesto and shared everything. It was the best pizza and pesto pasta that I had ever had (Kyle agreed).

The rest of the afternoon/evening we spent wandering around the city.

europe florence

I even got to do a little shopping. I told myself at the beginning of the trip that I would buy myself a pair of leather boots in Florence because it’s the leather capitol of the world. All you need to know is do NOT go to Leonardo Shoes if you are ever in Florence. They will lie to your face (luckily I do my own research) and do anything to get you to spend money there. Let’s just say I’m a completely non-confrontational person and hate arguing, but I got kicked out of the store because I don’t like people who try to take advantage of other people.

They sold me a pair of boots, assuring me they were made in Florence, and I found out that they were not. The salesman wouldn’t return or exchange the boots and kept telling me they were made in Italy even though I showed him that the boots were made in Portual. Then he changed his story and said he is not an expert and cannot possibly know where all shoes are made (after he told me numerous times that everything in the store is made in Florence). We came back on a different day (after getting kicked out) when that particular salesman had left and luckily the owner helped us. I couldn’t return the original pair, but I got my Italian boots.

I’m wearing them here:

disneyland anniversary

Back to the trip. At some point we went to Vivoli for gelato because my aunt highly recommended it. You have to go here if you are in Florence!

europe florence gelato

We also went to the famous Duomo. We went to wait out front before they opened because it is a very popular destination and long lines can form. And if you want to walk to the top, there is only 1 staircase used for ascending and descending. We had no issues getting in and before you knew it, we were on our way up. FYI I’m scared of heights so this wasn’t the easiest trek (very steep staircases, some with no railings). See- this is looking down from one of the balconies on the way up.

europe florence duomo

So worth it though.

europe florence duomo

A panoramic shot- those clouds off to the left are the reason why we didn’t go to the Boboli Gardens (rain).

europe florence duomo

The only disappointing thing was that on the way up to the top, the interior (and some exterior) has graffiti all over the place. You would think people would have respect…

After the Duomo, we went to the Scuola del Cuoio (an Italian leather school). It’s this really cool school inside the Monastery of Santa Croce that was created after WWII to give orphans a place to learn a practical trade and earn a living. They still have students to this day (who you can watch!), and you can buy a TON of amazing leather pieces.

They have everything from luggage, to purses, to cigar holders (LOL I thought they were pen cases…), to belts, etc. HIGHLY recommend this place if you like leather goods. I ended up getting this wristlet and they even stamped my initials in the inside for free. Oh and I got money back at customs.

europe florence leather

The next day we went to the Galleria dell’Accademia to see the statue of David. In Florence, you will see marble statues until you think you’ve seen them all. You have NOT seen them all and you MUST see David. I promise your jaw will drop (even if you think you’ve seen all the statues you ever want to see). Sorry, no photography allowed in there…

For lunch we went to Gusta Pizza, another highly recommended restaurant. The best pizza I’ve ever had (I can’t decide if I like La Mangiatoia’s pizza better). After lunch we tried to find the boar’s nose- the myth is that you have to rub the nose because it means that you will return to Florence. We could not find it after looking on separate days- so I guess we aren’t coming back?

And that’s about it for Florence. It was one of our favorite cities and has the most amazing food!

A few of you are traveling to Florence- I wish you the best trip! Please feel free to contact me with any questions!

I’ll be posting a list of my traveling tips shortly!

Have you ever been to Florence?

Have you ever been kicked out of a store? Not my proudest moment but I promise there was no yelling or physical violence on my part. He simply didn’t like being told he was wrong.

20 thoughts on “Europe Trip, Part 5: Florence

  1. I loved Florence when my sister and I went, it was one of my favorite cities! Not gonna lie, I snuck a photo of the David….I also got one of the Sistine Chapel…was not being a rule follower.

  2. Florence was our FAVORITE! We stayed at a bnb with an old dog that slept all the time. It got annoyed when the owner woke it up to meet us. Haha. You’re right, the David statue is unbelievable. I sat there and stared at it for an hour. The replica in the square is just not the same.

        1. PAHAHA!! But yes, I’m so glad my uncle told me you HAVE to go no matter what. He’s the one who told me that I’ll see a billion statues while I’m there and I probably won’t want to go see David (which was true) but I have to.

  3. I love the idea of back tracking through trips! I have had the good fortune of visiting so many neat places, but long before the blog.

    I’m sorry about your boots, but at least they are cute! That is so cool about the leather school, I had no idea that existed!
    Ok, so I not only studied abroad in Florence, but returned last summer and STILL have not climbed to the top of the duomo, I neeeeed to do that!
    I agree about David. So many people say it’s not worth the tickets/waiting/hype blahh blahh blahh, but I was dumbstruck!

  4. Glad the boots ended up working out (kind of). They’re cute!
    I’ve never been to Florence, or anywhere abroad.
    I did get kicked out of Dick’s Sporting Goods once in middle school because my friends were being obnoxious and playing with basketballs. I remember being really embarrassed. But your experience sounds like you were in the right

  5. Florence is awesome! Would love to go again! The art and architecture was unbelievable, nothing like seeing it in books, have to be there in person. We hit all the spots you recommended and your mom found the boar. So that means one day we’ll return! Yay! The gelato and risottos were so yummy!

  6. We were in Florence in early May and made the mistake of going to Leonardo Shoes. Tried to return an defective item and the merchant refused to accept it’s return. Also told us credit card refunds were not available even though their website specifically states they issue refunds. All around liar and we wouldn’t go back there if it were the last shoe store on earth.

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