We noticed right away in Florence the pace is more chill, people ride bikes everywhere, beautiful sights in every direction (even on this overcast and later drizzly day) and town is less overwhelming...although we still manage to get lost. But getting lost when you have no where to really be is fun!
Our hotel is 3 star (hotel Delle Nazioni) and located literally a block behind the train station. Convenient location and popular spot for many hotels. They boast themselves as an "Internet Hotel" which seems funny since all hotels really need to be in 2014. We were pleased to have two separate rooms again! No view and decor is bit outdated but we've got a framed print of Jim Morrison shirtless on our wall...and a toilet with a powerful flush. Overall clean and meets our needs.
First thing we did was eat of course! Jason found a great restaurant on Yelp called Trattoria da Giorgio (Via Palazzuolo 100 rosso). They basically just offer a fixed price menu. 13 euros a piece included bread served in a brown paper bag, a half liter of wine, a first course of pasta, a second course of meat and a side dish. We all loved our pasta dishes, Kids really loved their ravioil. Only bust was Natalie ordered salmon as her meat course thinking it would be grilled salmon but it was cold and thin like lox. The roasted potatoes with olive oil and rosemary had me reaching my fork over to Jacob's plate to help him out. We also met a nice American couple who had just been to Venice- they shared tips with us and since they were headed to Rome next we just shared our blog.
We figured the best way to get our bearings and because we already paid for it as part of our pkg...we'd catch the double decker hop on and off Sightseeing Florence bus. There are two lines. We took the one today that drive around the perimeter of Florence and up into the surrounding hills to a town called Fiesole. The bus stops there for 30 min to allow you time to see the church and take pics. We grabbed some hot drinks to go.
We got off the bus around city center and walked through piazza San Marco (the church was closed) and ended up at the Duomo...amazing architecture and so ornate looking from the outside. We still are wondering 'how' these amazing buildings are everywhere.
It started to drizzle so we bought tickets to hike the bell tower. It was like we paid for a great workout class...414 steps up and 414 down. Great evening view at the top. Tickets are good for 24 hours so we can climb it again in daytime.
Natalie and I have a list if leather goods we man to acquire. Jacob on a hint for the ultimate wallet. We browsed a few shops but know we need to head to the markets.
The rain suggested we park ourselves in a wifi bar. I had my first limoncello which was strong but tasty.
After, we headed to a restaurant found on tripadvisor but didn't notice that it was closed for dinner so we hopped back online (we use data plan sparingly) and found a great option...Osteria Pepo (Via Rosina, 4/6r off Piazza del Mercato Centrale). Loved the complimentary Prosecco when we sat down. Jason's meatball dish was amazing and Jacob's beef in some tasty gravy was a hit. Natalie enjoyed her pasta and clams. Mine was the least favorite but still great. Eggplant and pasta with ricotta. We make friends almost everywhere we go...tonight we sat next to about 8 college girls who were dining with one gals visiting family...the family was from East Cobb. Girls were all from NYU or Rhodes. They shared lots of shopping tips and claimed they have all gained the Firenze 15 similar to the freshman 15. We talked about how Christmas hype is non existent here and some girls shared that they would be going to Hard Rock Cafe tomorrow for the traditional Thanksgiving fixings. No doubt if I had to do it over again I would have studied abroad. Our kids definitely want to- they have been bitten by the travel bug!
We decided to make it an early night tonight so we could have a full day here tomorrow and maybe do a day excursion on Friday.