Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 679: A Student in Florence
By colleenk from MA, Spring 2004
Page 16 of 16: Final Thoughts
Florence, Arno at sunset
Looking back on my wish list of what I wanted to do in Florence, I am quite happy that I managed to do most of them. There are a few things that I wished I had more time to do:
Try many more gelato shops than the 4 I got to enjoy!
Experience sunset over Florence from Piazza Michelangelo/Fiesole (I did see this view but not with the sun setting as the weather didnít cooperate).
Take the #13 bus to tour the city.
Visit Michelangelo's House.
Spend more time in the Central Market exploring all itís nooks and crannies, chatting with vendors (in Italian!) and tasting olive oils and balsamic vinegars. It is only open until 2 pm and school didnít get out until 1 pm.
Visit the Palazzo Vecchio.
Spend more time at Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella testing their creams, oils and essences.
Visit the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo with its eclectic collection of shoes and photos of his shoes on famous feet.
Explore the inside the Santo Spirito Church.
Spend more time in the Santa Croce area and visit the Leather School there.
Revisit the Pitti Palace.
See the Perugino frescoes at Santa Maria Maddalena de Pazzi.
Revisit the Medici Chapels.
See Brunellesschiís Hospital of the Innocents.
Take in the Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza now that I've read Gailelo's Daughter.
Visit the Orsanmichele Church.
Explore many of the small boutique shops where I saw many beautiful, flowing skirts and dresses that Italians are so talented at creating.
Experience more live music or concerts.
Visit more enoteccas to experience much more of the fabulous Tuscan wines.
A few "Bests" on this trip include:
Best Lunch - Tie between Trattoria Mario and Trattoria Cibero
Most fun place for Dinner - Tattorria Le Mossacce
Best very cheap dinner - Osteria Zio Gigi
Best overall meal and wine experience - Cantinetta Antinori
Best leather gloves - Madova
Best Ceramics - Rampini Ceramics
Best Leather Bound Albums - Lilium
Best Pizza - il Pizzaiuolo
Best Hot Chocolate - Gilli
Best gelato - Perche No
Best casual /drop in lunch - Yellow Bar
Best Bargains - San Lorenzo Stalls
Best View of Florence - Fiesole
Best Street Art - in front of Pitti Palace
Favorite Church - tie between Santa Maria Novella and San Miniato al Monte
Favorite Excursion - Arezzo
View you never tire of - looking up to San Miniato faÁade from the Ponte Vecchio over the Arno.
Most beautiful setting for lunch in the countryside - Canít choose, both were breathtakingly beautiful but we did get to actually eat outside at La Cantinetta Di Rignana in Greve but La Rosa del Trinoro Restaurant in Sarteano was in a spectacular setting too.
Guide Books/Notes I found Most Helpful:
Slow Travelers Top Ten Florence favorites and Florence Restaurant Reviews
Rick Steves' Florence and Tuscany - I sheepishly admit to this book being my most used guide over the many more sophisticated guides I brought such as the Michelin Guide. Simple, to the point and easy to use. Some of his museum commentary is irreverent but they were good for a quick overview.
Lonely Planet Florence Condensed - easy to carry, some good walks.
Diva Cucinaís Florence for Foodies Notes - Not only were these great recommendations but they are arranged by neighborhoods that make them user friendly.
The Food Loverís Guide to Florence by Emily Wise Miller - very comprehensive, hard to believe but better than Carla Capalbo or Faith Willingerís books (I had considered them my bible until I found this one - but then it is specific to Florence and the others cover Tuscany too).
Eating and Drinking in Italy - a menu reader and restaurant guide by Any Herbach and Michael Dillion. A thin and useful guide to translate menu that can slip in your pocket.
B&B City Streets - a laminated map of Firenze with public transport listed.
Conclusions This trip was beyond wonderful on so many different levels: For empowering me as a solo traveler and all that I learned about myself from that experience. Finding the stamina to push myself to keep trying to learn Italian when my brain really isnít wired for languages. Meeting so many interesting and truly nice people. Getting to know one place fairly well and by the end of the trip really improving on my navigating skills. Having the most wonderful meals and wine. Experiencing so much astoundingly beautiful art and architecture. Marveling at the beautiful craftsmanship of Italian goods from ceramics to leather to paper. Feeling more "Italian" as each day passed.
Ciao Florence! Iíll be back!
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