When we first booked our trip to Italy, we planned on spending the first two days in Rome. In our planning, though, we learned that our second day there was the day of the Roma Marathon. Because of that, many train stations and tourist sites would be either closed down or completely packed. Not wanting to spend the day fighting crowds and getting stuck in travel delays, Matt and I looked for an alternative and decided to take the train from Rome to Florence for a day. I am SO glad we did –Florence ended up being my very favorite city of the whole trip.
The train from Rome to Florence could not have been easier and we basically spent the entire ride looking out the windows and gasping at the gorgeous scenery. It took us a little over an hour, and the train station in Florence was walking distance to the city center.
Have you ever been somewhere, and even though it’s your first time, you immediately feel as though it’s familiar and you could happily live there? That’s how I felt in Florence. It was just a gorgeous city and an amazing day.
We saw Il Duomo, which was so completely unlike every other building I’ve ever seen, it took my breath away. It is simply majestic.
We strolled across the Ponte Vecchio. We explored narrow little winding roads and went in shops both high-end and low.
Our day in Florence was one of the least structured of the whole trip — maybe that was why we all loved it so much! We didn’t do any tours, just strolled around this gorgeous city, saw the big sites from the outside, popped into shops and ate a lovely lunch in a gorgeous piazza looking at a replica of Michelangelo’s David.
As we sat at lunch, I squeezed Matt’s hand in total joy — it was exactly how I pictured our Italian vacation when I dreamed about it for the months leading up. It was so perfect, I couldn’t believe it was real.
Everywhere you looked, there were artists setting up easels and painting. There were leather shops where old Italian gentlemen sat at giant industrial-looking sewing machines and stitched soft leather bags as you watched. The pace seemed slower than in Rome and the city smaller and more quaint.
On the advice of friends who’d been there, we took a long-ish, practically vertical walk through the city up to the Piazzale Michelangelo and were rewarded with the most picturesque views imaginable.
The uphill climb was completely worth it, even though I did end up giving Quinn a piggy-back ride for the last mile or so because his legs were just spent. Gelato helped him regain some energy though.
On the train ride home, we all sort of dozed off, tired from the busy day before and another full day of walking. It was a lovely, quiet, calm train ride. We got back to Rome in time to grab some delicious sandwiches from the shop across the street from our apartment. We ate dinner at “home” and the children watched Dora the Explorer in Italian on television. Relaxing nights like that are one of the main reasons I love Airbnb so much — we’d be cramped and annoyed trying to eat dinner in a hotel room, but we were all tired and didn’t want to go to another restaurant. Having an apartment of our own is the perfect set-up.
When we go back to Florence someday — and I know we will, because it was one of my very favorite places I’ve ever been — we’ll plan much more than a single day in this gorgeous place.
Also, Part One of our Italy trip is here.