Trip Recap Part 2: Florence, Italy

Welcome to part 2 of my trip recap to Italy! If you missed part 1, you can catch that here. This part of our trip covers our visit to the small town of Assisi and then a few days in Florence. Honestly, I really fell in love with the beauty of Italy on this portion of the trip. Beautiful skies, winding, narrow streets and lots of charm had me not missing Rome at all.

It’s funny because I have to remind myself that Italy is a country, and just like the US different parts of it are completely different than others. In my mind when I used to think of Italy I always thought of it looking a certain way. Turns out it does in some places and not others. I hope that makes sense. Maybe we all do that about places, including the United States. In fact our tour guide when we were in Greece had never been to the US. She said she wanted to come and drink a beer in a bar next to a cowboy. We chuckled but I think that might be the image of the US that people in other countries have. In any case, let me share Assisi and Florence with you!

Tuesday, March 19

We were up early on Tuesday, March 19. The nice thing about touring with a group like Globus is that you never have to move your luggage. It goes outside your hotel room door by a certain time and they pick it up and load it on the tour bus. So easy and convenient! The buffet breakfast was included with our stay so we loaded up and then boarded the bus!

Our first stop was Assisi. You may or may not be familiar with St. Francis of Assisi. Our tour guide told us the story and what a story it was! I found it very inspiring and could completely understand why the people of Italy loved him so much!

The Basilica of St. Francis was stunning both inside and out! Perched on top of a hill, only those who actually live in the small village are granted access by car. Tiny little cars btw! Our tour bus had to park in a lot for visitors, we exited the bus and started our tour. Photos and videos were not permitted in the basilica. It was VERY BEAUTIFUL!!!

After visiting the basilica, we walked through the small village. So much charm! Beautiful plants and doorways, this place looked straight out of a movie set. We had lunch at an outdoor cafe. I had the very best calzone (I did not take a photo). On the way back to the bus we shopped in some of the little stores – they all had lots of touristy stuff – my husband bought some pastries at a bakery. Again, no photo! What was I thinking?? Clearly I was not. Trust me when I say they were very good!

We boarded the bus and made our way to Florence. Traveling through the countryside gave us some great views. Italy is a beautiful country, you will probably get tired of me saying this but it’s true. I would not mind at all visiting another part of Italy one day!

Once we arrived in Florence we checked out the hotel. This hotel had the smallest rooms of the three hotels we stayed in. It was very nice though! The bar and restaurants were gorgeous and it was located on the Arno River. The hotel was Grand Hotel Mediterraneo. My husband and I had a drink at the bar and sat outside – I am telling you it was warm until the sun went down. We slept with the windows open both nights we stayed in this hotel.

Later that night we boarded the bus again for an evening excursion. The excursion was called “Traditional Dinner in the Tuscan Countryside” and on the way we stopped at the city center/Piazzale Michelangelo and took photos. The dinner was at a fabulous restaurant. The food was fabulous and the entertainment was outstanding! Traditional Italian dinners are served in courses so the portions are smaller. This also took several hours which was fine, we had non-stop wine and prosecco pouring and loads of conversation with our tour mates!

The main course was prime rib and it was the best I have ever had! It was so tender it melted like butter in my mouth. I actually had two plates of it – ha!!!

Wednesday, March 20

We were up and at ’em early on Wednesday for a day of touring and exploring Florence. Our bus dropped us off near the Academy of Fine Arts. The streets are so narrow I honestly don’t know how these bus drivers do it! This is where Michaelangelo’s masterpiece, David is on display! David is one solid piece of marble and he is HUGE.

I took tons of photos of the other art but these two pieces were really so beautiful! There were also loads of sculptures. Everywhere we looked there was something else to see. An art lover would be in heaven!

Then we were on the move to visit the Piazza del Duomo, Piazza Santa Croce, and Signoria Square. We also visited a leather factory and had a light lunch (included) with the group. The rest of the afternoon was for wondering and exploring this beautiful city!

The restaurant we ate lunch at was very good and very old! We had a fava bean soup, bread, and wine. They also gave us a light dessert – something like a tiramisu – very good!

After lunch we shopped and walked a ton! I should mention that Florence is known for their steaks. Our tour guide let us know that if we ordered a steak we should expect it to be pink, if not red as this is the way they serve it in Florence. Some restaurants will take it back and cook it a bit longer if you ask but some will refuse to! That wasn’t a problem for me as I like my steak pink but my husband is a well done guy – ha!!! We had dinner that night at a little restaurant and it was very good. They did take a few pieces of this back and cook them a bit longer for my husband, but this was the steak for 2. There was nothing left when we were done – I ate almost the whole thing myself!

After dinner we walked back to our hotel and went to bed! The next morning we were heading to Pisa and then onto Venice for the last leg of our trip! Next week I’ll have part 3 and wrap this tour up!

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