Friday, June 29, 2012

We loved Florence and Tuscany


There are three words that come to mind when I think about Florence: art, architecture, and leather. Walking in the city was like visiting an outdoor museum. It is the city for art lovers! The architecture was stunning and a lot of it was in color, which surprised me. Paris architecture is beautiful too but most of it is black and white. If you like leather, you will find leather stores splattered throughout the city, as well as cheaper leather goods in the outside market. My sophisticated mother-in-law bought a leather bag at one of the stores. I bought mine at the market :) That's how NOT sophisticated I am! But seriously, the bags are nice and the market prices are a bargain. I didn't even need another bag but I just couldn't pass the opportunity to buy one being in Florence. There are bags everywhere! Ladies be warned!


We only went to one museum since we didn't think Tristan was going to like it much. We went to the Galleria degli Uffizi, which is the main art museum there. Nearly everything in the museum is considered a masterpiece coming from famous artists such as Michelangelo, Giotto, Botticelli, Raphael, Leonardo di Vinci, etc. We were right. Tristan couldn't have cared less and we had to carry him a lot to prevent him from touching everything. The art was impressive and so were some of the frames holding them. We got to look at pretty much everything but just not in detail.

We spent two full days inside Florence. Florence was beautiful. Florence was also super busy and noisy. It was such a relief to go back to our quiet farmhouse at the end of the day.


Siena is an old town in the Chianti region of Tuscany. It actually ended up being one of my favorite towns in Tuscany. Once again, the architecture was stunning. The main duomo there was smaller than the one in Florence. Walking around the town reminded me of old Italy. There was the Romanesque church, the Piazza del Campo, the great food and the candy and wine stores. It was just a charming little town. The day we went to Siena was also the day we were supposed to do San Gimignano but we ran out of time. I was totally bummed:(


The main attraction in Pisa was the Leaning Tower. It was cool to see. The town has a big university by the river but it wasn't as nice as Siena. There were two good restaurants I noted down but when we finally found them, they were closed. It wasn't even a Sunday. Maybe they just open for dinner. We ended up settling for mediocre food.

On the way home, we stopped by the Amedei chocolate factory. Amedei is home to the world's greatest chocolates. I have been tweeting about Amedei for awhile now and I already blogged about it over at Swoon For Food so if you like chocolate, you can read more about it there :)

Lucca & Viareggio

Lucca is a walled city and that alone made it interesting. There were few cars inside the city but there were cyclists everywhere! The wall was actually a walkway and cyclists, runners, and walkers strolled up there all around the city. We totally wanted to walk around up there but the fastest way was to rent bikes. We were only planning to visit Lucca for a couple of hours. We ended up renting one of these, which we thought was way cooler. It allowed us all to be closer together and it was not built for speed so it was good to take Tristan on it too.

We made the mistake of leaving the wall and then roaming around the city aimlessly with it. We totally got lost but luckily we could have cycled all the way in any direction and hit the wall again. We just had to find an entrance point and go back up the wall. Unfortunately, our bike time was almost up so we ended up racing in lightning speed past everyone just to make it back to the rental place on time. Remember how I said the thing was not built for speed? We went so fast, we thought the bolts were going to come off. Piece of junk. Or maybe it was us abusing it. Anyhow it was totally fun :)

Viareggio was a disappointment. We brought bathing suits but didn't know they built this whole industry around the beach. You had to pay for a change room in order to swim at the beach. Since it was near the end of the day it would have been 10 or 15 Euros for our group. Every part of the beach was blocked off by restaurants and businesses that collected fees for access. We ended up just going in to sit down for a drink. We decided not to swim after looking in the water. It was somewhat dirty and we only had maybe 30 minutes to 1 hour to swim before going home. The beach was huge though. Thousands of lawn chairs or sunbathing chairs were lined up along the beach leading up to the water. It's just too bad you had to pay for all that. It's sad really.

Greve in Chianti

The day we drove to Siena through the small countryside road, we didn't have time to stop in Greve. We decided to create a spare day in our schedule to go shopping and hang out at the farm. On this day we drove to Greve to taste and buy wine. I don't drink much myself but if you are ever in Tuscany, tasting wine is just one of those things you need to do. We also visited a nearby big grocery store. We ended up buying a lot of our food souvenirs there and I also shopped for things I needed to cook that day. We got plenty of rest and I made us a lovely pasta dinner at the farmhouse. For not doing much, that day ended up being a really nice day.

Places on my original agenda that we didn't visit were San Gimignano, as mentioned above, and Cinque Terre. We simply did not have enough time. If it were just the three of us, we probably would have done everything but we were traveling with my parents-in-law too. They were pretty tired from everything we already did. They were not used to traveling at all and it totally showed. I'm still bummed about Cinque Terre but it was too far and I was getting sick of being in the car as well. Traveling to a new foreign city with a 3 year old and seniors was no easy task either. Overall, I think we still had a great time in Tuscany. Weather-wise spring time was definitely the best time to visit!


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