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Report 644: Florence, Montepulciano and Venice in May

By AlliK from Washington, DC, Spring 2005

Trip Description: A couple travels to Florence, Montepulciano and Venice in early May 6-17, to see the sights, eat the food and generally soak up the ambiance.

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Florence, Tuscany, Venice

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Art Trip; Foodie Trip; Garden Visits; Sightseeing; 2 People

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Page 1 of 12: Overview and Travel to Florence

My husband and I decided in early January 2005 that we didn’t want to put off a trip to Italy any longer waiting for the dollar to rebound, so we booked our 10 day excursion for early May when he finished his first year of law school. What better end of school year celebration, and early first year anniversary trip?

Having previously studied in Florence for a semester in college, most of the places were repeat visits for me, but new for Eric. While we didn’t exactly follow the slow travel philosophy of staying put in one place for an extended period of time, we definitely feel like we got the most out of the trip by doing a lot of research and planning ahead of time! Our time felt very full in each place we stayed, and for the most part we had no “bum” sites/hotels/restaurants/experiences.

Friday, May 6 – Saturday, May 7

Finally! Our trip to Italy starts but not in the most auspicious way. We arrived at the terminal in Dulles a bit over two hours before our flight and wound up at the end of a long line with one Alitalia agent to check people in. When we finally got to the front, the seats we reserved through Delta (row 18) had magically turned into row 34. Apparently the Delta system didn’t talk to the Alitalia system for seat reservations. Fine. Off we went through the longest security line ever (I’ll admit, we cut), and then crammed into the bus to the plane. We were first off the bus onto the plane and quickly learned that the plane had a total of, yes, 34 rows. Oh well!

We landed in Milan at 7:15 a.m. and had a couple hours to kill (one of which was spent worrying whether we were supposed to claim our bags and do customs there – no) before the quick flight to Florence. The views out the plane window were great – Alps, Appenines, valleys, Mediterranean and then the Duomo in Florence! We landed and took a cab to our hotel, Hotel Cestelli on Borgo SS Apostoli (just around the corner from Ferragamo!), arriving at noon.

We settled in briefly then hit the streets to walk to the Mangiatoia on Via Maggio in Oltrarno since we were starving (this was my favorite cheap place while a student living in Oltrarno 4 years ago). After a tasty lunch of quattro stagioni pizzas, we walked around my old apartment, then across the river to Piazza della Signoria, the Duomo, and back to the hotel for a much-needed nap.

Dinner was at an outside table at 4 Leoni: bruschette con pomodoro (yum!), insalata mista, pennete al sugo toscano (meat sauce), fiochetti alle pere (pasta stuffed with pear in a taleggio cheese sauce with asparagus), tagliata di pollo, and fagioli, all washed down with a half-liter of house red. We walked around the sites again after dinner, this time over the Ponte Vecchio and to Santa Croce before heading back to the hotel for the evening.

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