How To Have The Best Trip Of Your Life In Florence, The Heart Of Tuscany And Art
Day 328/365: A complete guide to a battery-refilling holiday
I’ve had the best trip of my life this year.
It wasn’t the one to London, where I saw Aladdin live at the legendary Prince Edward Theatre. It wasn’t the one in Germany, where I got to see Munich and the gorgeous Bavarian countryside. It wasn’t even Egypt, where I got to see the Pyramids of Giza and bathe in the Red Sea sun. Not even Istanbul, where I discovered the city resting on two continents. Nope, not even close.
It was in Italy, Florence, to be more exact, where I spent the very best holiday of my entire life. I’ll tell you exactly what I did day by day, thanks to my Instastories, so it will be easier for you to follow along and hopefully recreate the itinerary I enjoyed so very much.
Day 1 — Bologna to Florence and the Villa Agape Arthotel
I landed at Bologna’s International Airport at around noon. The weather was cold, so I didn’t really enjoy the trip from the airport to the train station. From there, I got a high-speed train to Florence, which cost me 28 euros. I know, it’s a lot of money for a 30-minute commute, but it was the best option available and the train was a dream to ride.
I love Italian trains!
Once I got to the central station in Florence, I did a short walk and went to the central square to see the Duomo. What a fantastic structure. It instantly woke me up! And the gelato from the small gelateria, followed by a porchetta sandwich from the San Marco Mercato downtown, which was just 3,5 euros, made my short stay in the city crazy enjoyable.
After another short bus trip, I got to Piazzale Michelangelo, a small parking lot from where you can see the entire city. From there, I got picked up by the shuttle minibus from Villa Agape, an art hotel situated meters away from the plate that announces the entrance to the city. The hotel is situated on a hill outside of the city and has the most amazing views in the world.
I am serious. I have never had a hotel so fine, so luxurious and with such a breathtaking view in my life. I got upgraded to a deluxe double room, 30, which has to be the best in the entire property as it has immediate access to a terrace which is amazing for freelance work and watching the sunset. Which I did every single day. I recharged my batteries in the best way possible.
The room costs around 40 euros per night, which included a full and extremely delicious breakfast, afternoon appetizers, the shuttle service available from 9 AM to 10 PM and the best services ever.
Day 2— Uffizi Galleries, Pallazo Vecchio, Accademia Galleries
I woke up bright and early for the second day. After a sublime breakfast and a short tea on the terrace, I was out for the Uffizi Galleries with the first shuttle at 9 in the morning. I got to the museum in no time and was able to get in after a 10-minute wait. That’s what you get if you wake up early!
The entrance to the museum costs around 16 euros. I didn’t pay because I happened to have my press pass with me. If you guys didn’t know, I’m still working as a part-time journalist for a local publication in my hometown. I love journalism and, luckily, Italians are fans of the press apparently!
The Uffizi Galleries are spectacular. From the interiors to the sculptures, the paintings and the interior chapels or special rooms, everything was gorgeous. Renaissance artists were crazy talented, that’s for sure!
Next, I walked to a local sandwiches shop and got a smoked salmon panini. It costs just 5 euros and it was perfect. I might have been hungry and ate it all in about 3 minutes, which was not a smart idea. But still, delicious!
I then got in line for the Pallazo Vecchio, the old palace of Florence. Here, the main attraction is the Hall of the 500, an immense hall with paintings by Giorgio Vasari, the famous Florentine painter. It’s stunning to be able to admire his works and to find the “Cerca Trova” flag in the picture. Dan Brown fans that read “Inferno” know what I’m talking about.
I also climbed to the top of the tower. The views over the Duomo and the square bellow were simply crazy. Also, I got a free pass to the Pallazo as well because of my press pass. What a treat, as the entire thing with the tower and every section of the exposition would’ve cost me 20 euros or so.
Next, I visited the insides of the main church of Florence, where the famous Brunelleschi dome is situated, dominating over the city. The church’s interior is not amazing, but the interior work on the dome is impressive. I’m sure climbing up the dome and seeing the city from that high is great, but I was simply not in the physical shape needed to do something like that.
The last stop of the day was Accademia Galleries, the place where David, Michelangelo’s most famous sculpture rests away from rain or thunders. The original David used to stay outdoors right in front of the old palace, but it was later moved into the Accademia for security purposes and to protect the sculpture. And to make some money, as the entrance fee is 8 euros.
Not for me though, as I had the press pass with me.
After all of that walking, it was time for dinner. I went to Regina Bistecca, which Tripadvisor says it’s the best steakhouse in town. The interiors of the place were stunning, to begin with. The selection was not large, but they did have everything you can possibly ask for.
I had a normal rib-eye with baked potatoes, fresh bread and a glass of house wine. It all cost me about 30 euros, which was a fair price considering the steak was one of the best of my life. Surely the best rib-eye I’ve ever had.
Day 3 — Pisa and the Leaning Tower
Did I tell you about the Villa Agape Arthotel that I stayed at? It was AMAZING. Waking up and opening the windows to the view I had over the hills of Tuscany, that’s a thing I’ll never ever forget and hope to repeat quite soon. Like, next April or May at latest!
After a good breakfast, I decided to board an 8 euros train to Pisa, a city 60 kilometres away from Florence. The trip was just over an hour long. After another 30 minutes of walking and an overpriced panini, I was there, standing right under the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.
It was so strange, to be honest! It’s like, really leaning! Like… bad! I saw people going up in the tower and I was like “what the heck are you people doing? Don’t you see this tower is about to fall? I’m glad I got here early to catch the fall of the Leaning Tower of Pisa!”
It’s safe to climb it, or so they say. I didn’t. I’m sometimes dizzy just because I look out the window of my plane seat, let alone climb a 1000-year old tower that’s almost falling to the ground. Nope, I’ll just take my photos, awkward selfies and then be on my way, thank you very much.
That night, I got to experience my first ever authentic Indian dinner. Well, a smaller dinner, to be honest, as I had gelatos and canollis all over the city when I got back to Florence in the afternoon.
The place was called Indian Palace and I went for the lamb dosa, a huge crepe filled with lamb, onions, potatoes and all the amazing Indian spices. It comes with three chutneys and the coconut one is simply crazy. Dinner was 11 euros or so, so very cheap.
Day 4— Graveyards and tombs of Florentine legends
There are many important people that were born and then buried in Florence when their lives came to the natural end. For example, there’s the guy who wrote about Pinnochio, Carlo Collodi. He was buried in the cemetery right at the back of the San Miniato al Monte church.
As the church was 5 minutes away by foot from the Villa Agape, I decided to go grave-hunting for the morning. And the decision turned out to be great.
Graveyards in Italy are different from anywhere else in the world. They are filled with statues and monuments that are simply sublime. Like this monument of a him and a her.
I had a hard time finding the chapel where the father of Pinnochio was buried. For further reference, it’s the Lorenzini chapel, number 37!
After a short drive to the city centre, I stopped at StarChicken Gourmet, a fried chicken place in the middle of Florence. You see, they don’t have KFC in most of Italy. I think there are like one or two restaurants all over the country. StarChicken served me 6 freshly fried wings, a batch of fresh fries, a Sprite and sauces all for 8,5 euros. It was a delicious lunch!
After the lunch, I decided to hold onto the “death” theme of the day and visited the Santa Croce church nearby. Here, four of the most important Florentinians that have ever lived rest their eternal sleep. Michelangelo, Dante, Galilei and Machiavelli.
Also, the guy who invented the radio is buried here. The church is sublime, to be honest, and so are the tombs and monuments where the Earthly remains of four of the most intelligent and talented people that have ever lived are put to the rest.
For my last official dinner in Florence, I went for a simple, yet delicious pizza. I got one small pizza from Mangia Pizza right next to the Ponte Vecchio. It was just 8 euros and surely hit the spot after yet another day of walking. Delish!
Day 5 — Going home after a legendary trip
I can’t think of a trip that was as legendary as the one to Florence. The hotel, the sights, the food, the people, the trains, the towers, the churches, the views, the gardens, the paninis, gelato, everything was gorgeous.
It was hard for me to say bye to Italy this time. Really hard. For a good hour during my last night, while I was making plans for the next travel day, I contemplated asking the hotel reception for a job at the property. I really did, I’m not even joking. It’s hard to explain, but it was like I fell in love with the place and I was simply not ready to let it go.
I’ll surely go back. Next year, I’ll go back for a week at least. I loved Florence, Villa Agape, everything. I’m so sorry the trip has ended. But so glad it happened and it was so sublime.
Thank you for your time!
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