Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 10: Florence, Italy!


Wow...Florence is beautiful! Our train arrived right on time and we caught a taxi to our hotel - Hotel Monna Lisa. It was only about 5 minutes from the station. This hotel was probably my favorite...it is SO gorgeous. As you walk in, there are tons of different "Mona Lisa" paintings. Each one is different from the last and some of them are very funny. We stayed in Room #43...it was beautiful! It had red fabric on the walls instead of wallpaper (very classy!), pretty furniture, a red/white tiled bathroom and a balcony that overlooked the gorgeous courtyard. The courtyard smelled divine as we walked through...even though it was cold outside.
On the train...Florence, here we come!
Our room at Hotel Monna Lisa...we loved this hotel!!!
The view from our balcony...
After we got settled in our room, we went down and asked the hotel staff where we could grab a great bite to eat for lunch. They suggested a place called "I Ghibellini." Wow...our meal there was incredible!!! I had a ravioli dish and Brad had the spaghetti. We were tempted to eat there a second time...it was that good!
"Bruschetta al Pomodoro" (toasted bread with garlic and extra-virgin olive oil with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil)
"Ravioli al Sugo fiorentino con la ricetta della nonna Giulia" (ricotta cheese spinach ravioli with meat sauce made in florentine style)

"Pici de Fiaccheraio" (Homemade "fat spaghetti" prepared according to Siena tradition in a gorgeous sauce with onion, bacon and tomatoes)
Once we were finished eating, we went to the Duomo. There, we got a MAJOR workout. We climbed a total of 877 stairs! Yes, you read that correctly...haha. The first 414 stairs were at the Campanile, which is a beautiful tower that overlooks the entire city of Florence. The climb up the tower was actually a lot of fun, and the view was breath-taking...definitely worth all those stairs. At the same time, we were so relieved when we reached the bottom...the last thing on our minds was climbing more stairs. However, we went straight over to the line that we THOUGHT was for the cathedral. Boy, were we wrong! We bought tickets, got through the door and were greeted by a sign that announced we were about to climb 463 more stairs to the top of the Duomo dome. Oh.my.goodness!!! It was actually pretty hilarious. We had already bought our tickets by that point, so we sucked it up and started climbing. Brad said the look on my face was priceless when I realized what we'd done...haha. I'm SO glad we did it, though. During the climb, you get to walk around the inside circumfrence of the dome...for a close-up look at the dramatic fresco on the dome ceiling. It was awesome! The view from the top of the dome was even higher than the Campanile!
The Duomo...
The Campanile tower...

Climbing to the top of the dome...almost there!
The beautiful frescoes on the dome ceiling...
Inside the cathedral...

After all those steps, we were pretty tired. We looked around the cathedral and then headed towards a large market that we had spotted from the top. It was a great market - very big! I picked up a few more gorgeous scarves. The market stalls were filled with beautiful Italian leather goods - jackets, wallets, belts...It's all so nice!
Next, we strolled the streets of Florence a little longer and tried some gelato...YUM! That stuff is divinely creamy. It was topped off with 1/4 of one of the best waffles I've ever eaten...what a delicious combination. I had a scoop of chocolate, while Brad had the coffee and pistachio flavors.

When we finished up our gelato, we headed back to the hotel to rest for a few minutes and grab our coats. However, that plan changed a little...we fell asleep and didn't even wake up until 11pm! Can you believe that? We had done A LOT of walking and climbing that day! We slept right through dinner. We ended up grabbing a snack out of the mini-fridge (not the big Italian dinner we had in mind), but hey...it was still fun!
A pretty reflection...
Back in the courtyard that night...

We had another full day in Florence just hours away! :)

4 comments:

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Florence is one of my favorite cities. I will only be there for one night before I fly out... should I try your restaurant or my favorite ZaZa?

Joelen said...

What a beautiful city! I especially love the "lreflection" picture!!

Celeste said...

Sandi - That's a hard decision! The food was amazing at I Ghibellini...maybe you could have lunch there and then dinner at ZaZa? Have fun! When are you going?

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