Thanks for making your way over to Part 2 of our Turkey Day in Tuscany adventure. Here we go…
Of course we visited the city of Florence on our trip. We knew that Florence was going to be a bit crazy and crowded so we had a short list of must see attractions. First up, Michelangelo’s David.
I read online to book your tickets far in advance but since we were traveling in November I thought I wouldn’t need to do this as peak tourist season was over. However, I double-checked online the week before we were set to travel. This is when I discovered that tickets to see David were already sold out for the day we originally planned to go to Florence. Needless to say I booked tickets right then and there and rearranged our travel plans to accommodate the change. Lesson learned: Do book your tickets in advance to see David no matter what time of year you are traveling to Florence. Also note that even though children are “free” to get into the museum, you do have to pay a 4 euro service charge for them so you have to add this to your ticket reservation. On the website it will literally say children free and then next to it you select quantity and it charges the 4 euros each.
There is a lot of beautiful pieces of artwork in this museum. We were trying to take it all in but we have a grabby 1 year old so it keeps you on your toes a bit. This picture says it all…. Don’t touch the artwork E!!
We then swung by the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (or Il Duomo di Firenze).
The next destination was the carousel in Piazza della Repubblica.
This carousel is beyond charming. I also like that it is a bit of a slow mover (more our pace). O got to ride for the first time without daddy holding onto him and E had her very first carousel ride ever! Pretty memorable moment!
We are now going to pause this lovely, authentic Italian vacation for a tacky tourist moment. After having fun on the carousel, we decided it was time to eat. There are lots of lovely cafes and restaurants surrounding this Piazza. However, out of the corner of my eye I spotted the Hard Rock. Now if you are visiting Europe for a short amount of time, I highly discourage you from visiting an American chain restaurant. This is particularly true when you are in such an outstanding food location such as Florence. However, the moment I saw that Hard Rock sign I thought: “This Momma could use a Bloody Mary!” The Hard Rock makes a mean Bloody Mary and I haven’t been to a Hard Rock since we lived in Baltimore (over 7 years ago). As a bonus, I knew there would be a baby-changing table in there. I could sense it with my super human mommy powers. Long story short, huge bathrooms with baby-changing table and one delicious Bloody Mary later and I was one happy camper.
Ok back to your regularly scheduled authentic Italian vacation.
Did I mention there is amazing shopping in Florence? There is amazing shopping.
The city itself was easily accessible for us. Stroller and kid-friendly, though I feel like this is an adult city. This is someplace that I would like to come back when the kids are a bit older or better yet an adults-only adventure for just Gav and I. I think then I could appreciate it a little bit more. It is always a good sign of an excellent vacation when you are thinking about when you can come back.
Oh and of course we got gelato on our way out of town.
We actually stumbled on this quaint gelato shop called La Strega Nocciola on a side street not far from the Duomo. It is true homemade gelato. The type that is tucked away under metal lids not piled high in large containers like in other big gelato shops. Holy cow this was the most AMAZING gelato I have ever had and the best we had during our entire trip. I highly recommend the dark chocolate and the pistachio. And now I want gelato….
Florence American Cemetery
This cemetery is located south of Florence on the route to San Gimignano.
We have made it a point to visit these places on our journeys, as this is an important part of our history. This is a generation that is being lost to time and I want to make sure that our family does not forget the sacrifice these men and women made for our freedom.
There are 4,399 soldiers buried here and a memorial with 1,409 names of the missing. These men fought and died during World War II.
Inscribed on the wall are these words:
“Freedom from fear and injustice and oppression is ours only in the measure that men who value such freedom are ready to sustain its possession and defend it against every thrust from within or without.”
On our last full day, we decided to visit 2 smaller towns that were near our rental home. Volterra is a beautiful town on a hill east of San Gimignano.
Apparently this town has become a more popular tourist town recently due to the Twilight series. I know nothing about Twilight but apparently some of the show is supposed to be set in Volterra (though the actual filming was done in another town south of here). When we were in town there was a movie being filmed here but we never found out the name of it.
This small town is easily done in a day (and stroller friendly). We did a nice stroll, stopped for cappuccino, and visited the Roman baths.
I rather liked this sleepy little town but Gav was not impressed. I think O liked the town as well because 1) He got to pick out his souvenir.
2) There was a gigantic red O in the middle of a field on the way up to the town.
When O saw it he started screaming: “Look!! It is a big O just for me! That is my O!” So here’s another pic just for you kiddo.
We finished our day at a playground in Colle di Val d’Elsa.
Italy stole our hearts. We fell in love with the places, the people, the food and all the fun we had. We are already planning our next trip back! Until we meet again il mio amore!