So from Monaco, we traveled by taxi back to Nice, where we flew from Cote D’Azur Airport to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. We had a 3 hour lay-over then off to Firenze-Peretola Airport in Florence. Italy was a totally different scene than Monaco especially with the sheer number of tourists around. Though it wasn’t peak tourist season, Florence was extremely busy with people everywhere. The overall city isn’t as clean as Monaco, however there is still a great vibe to the area with tons of things to do. From museums to churches, fine dining to Apertivos; there is literally something for everyone. We stayed at Hotel Ambasciatori Firenze and though it wasn’t The Fairmont, it was a nice quaint boutique hotel. I will say though, if you are in need of an iron you will have to call ahead and they’ll bring it to your room as they only have a few in the whole hotel.
We took advantage of the Apertivos that they had at numerous bars throughout the city. Simply buy a drink and you’ll get access to either small snacks or a buffet of food and you can eat as much as you desire. Prices vary from 10-15 euros but can get up to 25+ euros for fancier locales.
After a few days in Florence, we were off to Venice. We traveled by train from Florence Santa Maria Novella to Venice S Lucia station. It was only a day trip to Venice but I will say I enjoyed Florence more. To move around you have to take the Venice Water Taxis so make sure you buy a day pass at the train station. From there we took a Gondola Ride with Alba Travel which was quite enjoyable as our gondolier sang as we toured through the canals in Venice. After that we walked around the city, grabbed a bite to eat (pizza & pasta) and headed back.
After traveling back to Florence we made sure to visit the Giotto’s Bell Tower, Basilica of Santa Croce, San Lorenzo Market, Piazza della Republica, Pitti Palace, Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’ Accademia where the famous Michelangelo’s statue of David is housed. Later we had dinner at SESTO on Arno Florence which is on the 6th floor of The Westin Excelsior Florence. The food, atmosphere, service and VIEWS (at sunset) of the city and Arno river were all AMAZING. This was by far the best meal of our trip to Europe, but bring your wallet though, because it isn’t cheap by any means.
The next day we took a trip to Cinque Terra and had a day tour of the area. The tour including transportation via a coach bus, tour escorts, train tickets, boat rides and lunch (which wasn’t that great in my opinion). I’d advise you to decline the option of having lunch included in your tour so that you can eat at any restaurant you choose and not have to deal with fixed/limited menu. Make sure you bring comfortable shoes because there is a lot of walking involved. You visit small towns and a few beaches. By the end of the tour we were exhausted and most people slept on the 2+ hour coach bus back to Florence.
If you love shopping, Florence has that for you and more. From market places to luxury designer shops, you have access to just about any designer imaginable. If you want to try and save some money, The Mall Firenze is an outlet mall with luxury designer boutiques (we didn’t get a chance to visit) or you can opt to visit the high concentration of designer shops along Via de’ Tornabuoni or Via degli Strozzi. These are upscale shopping districts where you can find fashion house like Gucci and Ferragamo. Speaking of Gucci, make sure to visit Gucci Garden (see more detailed info below) and ask for Rezarta Collaku (you can find her on Facebook). Krystal became very fond of her and they still keep in touch to this day via Facebook and WhatsApp.
Hope you enjoy the pics below and it makes you want to travel to Italy. My wife and I enjoyed our 10 days abroad and are looking forward to the next trip…whenever that will be. If you need help planning your next trip, reach out to Tammy Davis of Fortitude Travel. She was extremely helpful and the Trip Plans app came in handy while abroad. Enjoy…
CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT
Layover life…before making our way to Florence.
BASILICA OF SANTA CROCE
FLORENCE SANTA MARIA TRAIN STATION
Taking the train from Florence to Venice.
PIZZA, PASTA & WINE
wine is cheaper than water at most places…
Galleria dell’ Accademia
tasty and helps you beat the heat
From SESTO on Arno Florence
Gucci was founded by Guccio Gucci in Florence in 1921 and now operates over 250 stores worldwide. In the historic heart of Italy, you will find Gucci Garden which is a museum-retail concept store with pieces you cannot find anywhere else in the world. It is located inside the 14th century Palazzo della Mercanzia and overlooks Piazza della Signoria. There is an exhibition area which includes rooms dedicated to vintage and modern pieces but entry into the museum will cost you 8 euro per person.
Open to the public in January of 2018, Gucci Osteria is the fashion house’s attempt to enter into the culinary scene. This 50 seat restaurant is inside Gucci Garden and the Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michelle tapped Massimo Bottura of the famous Osteria Francescana to oversee the restaurant. They serve Italian classics and it isn’t insanely priced as main dishes range from 20-30 euros (and I must admit were quite tasty but portion sizes rather small).