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Report 1997: Farm Stay in Tuscany - Tenuta di Spannocchia

By fivediggs from Italy, Spring 2012

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Page 3 of 7: Florence

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Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence

Our first week in Italy, we took a day trip to Florence. Both my husband and I have spent a considerable amount of time there but had not been back for 10 years. We were excited to take the children to a city that had such meaning to both of us. Unfortunately, it was vacation week for students and the city was mobbed. We managed to do a quick highlights tour of monuments but barely scratched the surface of all the wonderful things to do and see.

We drove from Spannocchia and parked in Piazzale Michelangelo above the city. The view is spectacular there and the best place to take photos with the enormous Duomo in the background. One of my favorite churches is also in this area - San Miniato. If you have the time, it is worth a visit. We walked through the streets of the Oltrano (other side of the Arno). I love this neighborhood. It is much quieter and filled with lots of small artisan workshops. Once we approached the Ponte Vecchio, the city began to feel a little claustrophobic, especially as we were trying to keep track of five children between our family and our friends'. We walked immediately to Santa Croce to view the Bardi and Peruzzi Chapels. Our children were surprisingly interested in the stories told in each of the frescoes. I wished I had brought my old art history books, particularly books on the iconography of Saints. They found it fascinating how you could identify the saints and really wanted more information than I could provide them.

From Santa Croce, we walked through Pizza Signorina. We had just listened to a podcast on the Lorenzo dei Medici assassination plot and heard how those involved were thrown from the tower of Palazzo Vecchio. I think that visual will remain with my children for a while. I learned later that there is a wonderful Children's Museum in Palazzo Vecchio and am disappointed that we didn't take our kids there. It is on the list for the next time we return.

We had plans to climb to the top of the Duomo but the line just to enter was incredibly long. We decided not to attempt it. I have done it in the past and would highly recommend it. The view is spectacular and it gives you a great sense of the genius of Brunelleschi (the architect of the Dome).

I have a few good casual restaurant suggestions if you are visiting for the day. Antico Noe is an amazing sandwich shop not far from centro behind the Duomo off of Borgo degli Albizi. The other suggestion is a great sandwich shop near the Uffizi called Ino. It is located on Via dei Georgofili.

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