Florence: Day 1
by Vincent | June 9, 2015
We arrived in Florence from Marseille around 3pm. The flight was mostly uneventful except for some above average turbulence — I guess it’s a bit windy in Italy.
I had rented an AirBNB in advance to accommodate 7 people. I can’t stress how great it was — it had a private bedroom, living room with sofa bed, and a loft bedroom. It had two A/Cs (a must in hot & humid Florence). It was big. It was also in the perfect location, right next to the Duomo in the city center. I’d highly recommend the place we stayed.
Duomo & Gates of Paradise
Once we got settled in a bit we decided to walk around and see what was close by.
Of course we walked around the Duomo, a giant cathedral with a very exquisite and detailed geometric exterior. It was just awesome.
Across from the Duomo is the Baptismal Chapel which is a big dome; but the outside was under construction. The main draw are the huge doors on the outside which were still visible — also called the Gates of Paradise.
Dinner at Sasso di Dante
We were starving after our long plane ride and right next to the Duomo we found a well-reviewed place called Sasso di Dante. It didn’t disappoint — out of our whole five day stay in Florence, it remained the winner for pasta. We picked it because of my sister-in-law’s love of Dante.
I had some spicy macaroni. Celeste and her sister each had gnocchi. We all loved our pasta, it was cooked simply and flavorfully.
Celeste’s sister is a Dante fanatic so we set out in search of his statue (Monumento a Dante). It was in the Piazza de Santa Croce. We took some photos posed in front of the famous poet.
Arno & Palazzo Vecchio
After admiring the Dante statue, we headed towards the River Arno in the center of town. We walked along the river and then headed back through the streets to the Palazzo Vecchio which was a covered building and plaza with a bunch of statues.
Gelato at Venchi’s
We were trying to find a good gelato place and we came across Venchi’s which we thought was the one we were thinking of (started with a V). The gelato was super good. My niece dropped her cone and it was a quintessential “kid dropping their ice cream” moment — where they kind of stare at it with pouty face ready to cry. One of the workers saw what happened and gave her a new gelato on the house. How nice!
We learned later that this wasn’t the right place, it was actually Vivaldi, but Venchi’s was also one of the top gelato places in Florence. You’ll have to wait to see what we crowned the king of gelato.
After eating our gelato we wanted to go back and see the Ponte Vecchio which is the bridge slash market connecting the two banks of Florence. It’s a really cool bridge that has a jewelry market during the day. In the evening it’s bustling with tourists trying to take photos of the two banks and the surrounding hills of Florence.
We crossed the Ponte Vecchio and rested in a large plaza called Palazzo Pitti, which marks the entry into the Boboli gardens. We sat there for a spell and then decided we were all tired and should go to bed. It was a pretty full half day!