Firenze Frenzy

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We arrived in Florence (called Firenze by the Italians) late Saturday afternoon.  When we got off the train, we easily found the taxi stand and were whisked away to our apartment.  Unlike all of our previous apartments/hotels…we are staying right in the heart of the historic district.   Our cab driver drove down teeny, tiny, twisting little roads packed full of tourists…he just barreled through, honking his horn and pushing them out of his way.  To our advantage, we are staying on that one little street that is just shy of the touristy area.  One side is a more quiet Florence,…the other has tens of thousands of people (and that is not an exaggeration…there are LOTS of people here).

But our apartment is beautiful.  It far exceeded our expectations and photos do not do it justice. It is a centuries old building, with exposed wood beam ceilings….but all totally renovated and modernized a few years ago.  Two sisters bought the building and renovated two apartments to rent out.   They used some of their mother’s antique furniture combined with very modern appliances and fixtures.  It is roomy and suits us perfectly.

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We got a pretty late start to the day….once we checked in and unpacked it was nearly 5PM. But literally steps from our apartment is the Palazzo Vecchio…the “town hall” or translated “old palace” of Florence.  Built in about 1299, this building had a similar purpose to what I showed you at the Doge’s Palace in Venice (go back and see that blog post) …this building was meant to awe and intimidate and show the power and wealth of Florence.  It was the Duke’s residence and it where the town leaders met…as well as where foreign ambassadors would have come to see just how powerful Florence really was.  When you walk in any of the rooms, the ceilings are full of frescoes and ornamentation…continuing down the walls.  Not a square inch is left plain.

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After touring the interior of the Palazzo Vecchio, we decided to climb to the top of the bell tower and get a view.  It was a little over 250 steps up and then another 250 down.  But the views were great.

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After a long climb down, we ended up in the first floor of the Palazzo….where we discovered the archaeological area.  Apparently, when they built the Palazzo Vecchio back in 1299, they just built over the ruins of an ancient Roman Colosseum/Arena that had once been on the site.  Archaeologists are now unearthing the foundations and remains of that stadium (seen red in the photo below) and you can go down and have a look.

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And upon exiting the Palazzo Vecchio, you walk out on to the Piazza della Signoria…which is where the original statue of David (by Michelangelo) once stood…today it is a replica and the original is in the Accademia Museum.  Just to the right of the David statue is the Loggia dei Lanzi…with its collection of important sculptures.  Having seen all of this art work in history books in college…it was amazing to see with my own eyes.

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And to end the evening, we put on our tourist caps and pulled up a chair at a highly over-priced trattoria right on the Piazza della Signoria, enjoyed a cocktail and had a pretty good dinner while looking out over history!

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After dinner we took a stroll around the area.  I had always thought people were joking when they said that gelato shops are everywhere….but seriously….they are EVERYWHERE in Italy.  You can’t go very far without finding a gelato shop.  And we have all three had our fair share…but Lena has consumed an unmentionable amount of gelato on this trip.

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And that was our first day in Florence!  I am ONE day behind on my blog.  Our internet connection in Florence is quite spotty and I was unable to upload any pictures last night.  We’ve actually already had another entire full day in Florence…but we are headed out tomorrow for a day trip to some Tuscan hill towns and a winery.  I will check in later!

16 thoughts on “Firenze Frenzy

  1. Amazing! I say Lena has rights to all the gelato she can eat after climbing all of those steps. Hope these weren’t as steep and rickety as the last ones!! Love the apartment!

  2. I love the Lion fresco.
    The photos from the top of the tower are breathtaking!!!
    Make sure Lena gets plenty of gelato. She needs to calories to handle all of the stairs.
    I am exciting to see that you came upon another archaeological site. I would love to be in your shoes.

    1. Italy = Frescoes. They are everywhere on everything. On the old churches you see the remnants of old ones that have faded in time. Lena has had plenty of gelato…maybe 2 a day? I thought of doing a post with just pictures of her eating gelato.

  3. Amazing blog! I take a quick peek between clients! I’ll be back for a good long read soon! Hope to visit Italy in 2016…. your journal will make for great research. I appreciate you taking the time during your travels… fresh from the day reports give so much color and depth… wonderful…. Ciao for now!

  4. Reading your lovely travel blog I came across in a search for a nice apartment in Florence for my husband and me next year. I know this one you stayed in is on Homeaway.com but I don’t want to book through them since they charge a service charge now to guests (and as a VRBO owner myself, I really object to that double dipping on their part!) so I try to find the owners instead and book direct. Do you have their details/email address, by any chance? I would be most grateful if you could let me know. Thank you.

    1. I’m traveling on a train this afternoon, but if you give me a few hours, I can send you her email address (it’s two sisters that own and maintain the apartments). Also, we rent exclusively on HomeAway, but I wasn’t aware that they were double dipping! Good to know.

      1. Thank you so much. No rush at all. Just thinking ahead. I am on a plane tomorrow myself and on Thursday and on Friday so I am having a busy travelling week! Yes, googling service fees + VRBO will bring up this whole Homeaway debacle since Expedia’s buy out in February. Just be aware of hidden charges, even on subscription listings. On that particular listing it adds about 8% to the cost and is hidden in the details. Fair enough if the owner wasn’t already paying them to list…

      2. Felicity- I spoke too soon…I looked back at all of my email correspondence with the Owner, Simona, and it was all through Homeaway’s internal email service…so I don’t have her direct email address. But I can tell you that the Owner’s name is Simona Tofani and it’s Homeaway 420459. She was really great to work with, and I am sure if you called her or emailed her, she would contact you directly. The apartment was both larger and much nicer in person and location than the pictures portray. We loved our time there.

      3. Thank you. Never mind. Homeaway are very hard on owner’s who go outside their system if a fee has been applied ( I have managed to escape this so far on my properties in the Cotswolds and Dublin) so I always try to find the owner’s website and deal direct but perhaps these two like the automated system of communication and payment. I will do a forensic search for said Simona. Thanks again. Happy travels and watch out for those fees!

  5. What fun to discover your blog while researching for my trip to Italy next month. Your photos and notes are great. I was further delighted to see that you stayed in the same apartment we have booked and that you liked it! Any tips for our stay at Simona’s?

    1. Hi Lori- Thanks for checking out my blog and I am happy to have helped in your research.

      Simona is a wonderful host. She is very wonderful to work with and very efficient. I don’t know which apartment you are staying in (there are 2 in that building) but the apartment exceeded our expectations in terms of decor/cleanliness/location/amenities, etc. You are literally within walking distance of all of the major sites, but you are also tucked away from the crowds.

      The only thing that caught us off guard was that when you arrive, Simona will write down the current electric meter reading and then when you check out, she will take the reading again and you will pay the fee based on an agreed % per day. When we were there, it was 100 degrees or more everyday, but we were careful to turn everything off when we left in the morning. The system also has a de-humidification setting (as opposed to AC) which actually made the place comfortable. Just be aware that energy costs in Italy are very high and they are very conscious. Same with trash and recycling…you will need to locate the Florence recycling/trash bins and drop your trash off (it’s very close by).

      Otherwise….it’s a great apartment and you will have a lovely visit.

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