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Thursday, June 6, 2013

{Trip Report} Florence, Italy

I can't believe we've been home from our Italy trip for six weeks, and I've only posted about two of the stops. I think it's my subconscious way of holding on to it...it's almost like once all the updates are done, the trip will officially be over. It definitely was an experience for the memory banks, and glorious Florence was our second stop.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

The train from Venice to Florence is cheap (19 euro), fast (2 hours), and mostly in tunnels through the mountains...so a good time to nap off your hangover jet lag. But only a few short, walkable blocks from the train station, and you find yourself at the foot of the Grand Duomo. And I mean Grand (it holds 20,000 people).

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy
Check out the chick behind Mr. SP in full-blown pose! Love it. However, the Mister's socks are questionable.

We can look at Renaissance art and architecture in books all day long, but until you stand in the shadow or doorway of these places, you can't comprehend the size and grandeur. That's what I was most taken with in Florence...the sheer scale of the churches and statues. It feels a bit like Alice in Wonderland...we passed through the Rabbit Hole and became tiny humans in Florence.


Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

I painted the ceiling in Babygirl's little room, and it almost killed me. I have no idea how the Italian artists did it....but they love a fancy, painted, ornate ceiling!

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

And gold. They love lots and lots of gold. I was in Liberace heaven. And I challenge you to walk around with your head thrown back, and not have your mouth hanging open. Go ahead, try it now. Impossible, right? Like putting on mascara...the mouth just pops open. This has nothing to do with Florence, but gives you the mental image of what I looked like the whole time.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

We aren't Catholic, but we always light a candle and say a prayer for our kids when visiting these majestic churches. Then I usually get a little teary-eyed. I know the building has nothing to do with how close you are to God, but there's no denying the spiritual connection you feel.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

The downside to Florence is the crowds...and we weren't even there during peak season. Since we hadn't booked the major museums, The Ufizzi and Accademia, in advance, they were sold out of reservations for the week. What kind of European Adventure would it be if I weren't caught dozing while the Mister hits up a museum?! (Remember this?) I blame this nap on the wine and gelato.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Instead of waiting in line for hours, we spent our time wandering the streets, markets, and lesser-known exhibits.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy
San Lorenzo Market - huge selection of leather goods, and 3 euro scarves

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy
Mercato Centrale - large selection of food and oils (great for gifts!), and the lunch counters can't be beat

Although hoards of people congregate around the base of the Duomo, very few seemed to climb to the top. Maybe the 463 challenging, claustrophobic, winding steps has something to do with it.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

We thought the 8 euro ticket, dizzy spell, and sweaty brow, was well worth it.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, 
Italy

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

The top of the Duomo gives you a great view of the city, but if you want a close-up view of the Duomo, then find a table at the La Rinascente (a department store) Rooftop Cafe. It's a little pricey, but it's the prettiest spot you've ever enjoyed a glass of wine.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

I found this series of pictures on the camera...guess I really did enjoy the wine view. And yes it's true, wine is the same price as bottled water in Italy.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy
Mr. SP always makes me laugh like this, regardless of my wine consumption.

We quickly discovered Florence was about the views, so we crossed the Arno River, and hoofed it up to Piazzale Michelangeo for a stunning panoramic shot of the city.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Of course there's another cafe up there, so we nursed our over-priced drinks long enough to watch the sun set. At this point it hit us that we really were in Italy, and this was really happening.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Dusk is a magical experience in Florence. The crowds practically disappear, and you can wander the romantic, cobbled streets, watch musicians in the Piazzas, and admire the gorgeous architecture.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy
Ponte Vecchio

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

We didn't see the original David, but there are several scattered around the city, including one in the Piazza Signoria. This is a great place to sit and watch the street performers during the day, and hear musicians at night. It also contains a free open-air gallery of huge sculptures.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

{Where We Stayed}

This small boutique hotel, is actually a cluster of six apartments.
It is literally at the base of the Duomo, but the noise disappears when you walk through the door.
The large rooms have a little kitchenette, stocked with water, juice, yogurt, fruit and granola.
Each morning you'll find a canvas bag of fresh breads hanging from your doorknob.
You'll likely squeal every time.
Florence is a fairly small city center, and this hotel is in the heart of it.
I would 100% stay here again.

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

{Where We Ate}

After Lauren's singing praises, how could we not?!
I still haven't gotten over the Spaghetti Carbonara.

Full of locals, and it practically glowed with ambiance.
We ate on the Pizzeria side, and devoured it.

Hard to find, always busy, and totally worth it.
We had seconds. On the same visit.

Just like Venice, Florence is a tourist's town...so avoid the restaurants directly in the main squares. Walk a few blocks, and you'll find restaurants that belong in picture books.
And we really did eat gelato all day, every day.
Can you blame us?!

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy


Hi Sugarplum | Trip Report: Florence, Italy

Florence may turn your teeth purple, but it's so worth it! Are there any favorite spots we missed? Is Italy on your Bucket List? These posts are a mix of personal scrapbook, and my attempt at providing a guide. First-hand experiences (like Lauren's) are invaluable when planning a trip. Feel free to leave any questions in the comment section, and I'll get to them, or create a post with them. Up next....the most stunning, magical, jaw-dropping spot on our trip!


Catch up on this trip:
Part 2: Venice
Part 3: Burano

31 comments:

  1. Love this! My college age daughter is planning to study abroad in Florence next January! We laughed when she told us one of her "cultural electives" is a wine and cheese pairing class!
    Thanks Cassie and I love the striped dress!!!

    laura@imnotatrophywife.com

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  2. Dang! Now I got the travel bug!! That trip looked amazing! I think Mr. SP socks are completely ok in Europe. Dudes where capri pants over there, I think anything goes ;) xo Kristin

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  3. First of all...you and the Hubs are completely adorable! Second...Florence was definitely one of my favorite cities in Italy. It was a little slower paced and I loved the architecture and of course all of the amazing leather bags(which I should have bought more of)! Your pictures sure make me want to go back! So glad you had a blast.

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  4. The Italians certainly know how to do things right!

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  5. Your Italy posts have caused me to put "update passports" and "rosetta stone italian" on my birthday wishlist! I am taking notes - our 25th anniversary is in 2 years and I think something like this might fit the bill :) You and your hubs are too adorable!

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  6. Love this post :) We are planning to go to Italy when I turn 40, in 5 years! LOL! We went to Paris last summer and I LOVED it. Can't wait to go back to Europe. And, wine is the same price as water? Sweet!

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  7. ahhh, this takes me back!! and makes me want to go back!! The streets, the gelato, the WINE! *sigh*

    You are the most stylin' traveller ever, love your outfit... and Mr. Sugarplum's socks ;)

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  8. So pretty! And I adore your "laughing" episode that Mr. SP caught on camera :)

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  9. Oh my gosh! Breathtaking! And the views look absolutely incredible! I'm so jealous!

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  10. I've been waiting for these pics! It's about time girlfriend!! Looks like you guys had the best time :). Loved seeing the love between you two.

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  11. Love this!! Looks like such an amazing trip! Italy is next on our list. A Med Cruise too! Of course travel is much cheaper over here in Europe so I'm lucky I guess!

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  12. Ahhh! You make me want to go back to Italy so badly! I'm going to have to start showing your pictures to my husband to convince him that he needs to go!! I can never get over how cute you and your husband are together. I love that he makes you laugh like that - with or without wine!! :)

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  13. Looks amazing! Definitely want to go there someday!

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  14. Love your photos! My husband and I visited on our honeymoon and I recognized the background of the first photo instantly. Great memories!

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  15. Ahh I LOVE all your pictures!!! What a great time! We went to Florence on our honeymoon and it's one of our favorite cities. Brings back a lot of amazing memories. Now I want to return to Italy asap! :)

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  16. Your trip looks amazing Cassie! I have never been and hope to go one day. I'd be in heaven with the gelato. You and your hubby are the cutest couple! I have to say I love Mr. Sugarplum's socks!

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  17. 1. If we ever go to Italy, will you & Mr. SP come with us b/c y'all are too adorable for words. (We're not swingers.)

    2. I just gained 10 lbs looking at all that delicious food.

    3. You should do a packing post! Your travel outfits are AWESOME! Unless you've already done this? (I'm sorta drunk & can't remember.)

    xoxo

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  18. Hi there! glad to drop by your page and found these very interesting and informative stuff. Thanks for sharing, keep it up!
    There is no place like Rome – famous for its more than 2000 years of history. Purchase your Colosseum tickets, your tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums with us.
    - florence italy tour

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  19. We have a cruise coming up in August and most of the stops are in Italy (we also are in Spain, Croatia, and Montenegro) - 14 days of bliss! Keep those trip posts coming! I'm soaking in all the information and the beauty of it all! No pressure!

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  20. Never wanted to go to Italy until your travel posts and pictures and IG posts. Now I do! You make me smile with your narrative and the pictures are just wonderful. Why do husbands always wear weird socks when you want a picture that shows what a great guy you married??? If you figure that out let me know. You two are so cute together. And I agree with freckleschic you should do a post on how to pack for a trip like that. Happy summer, Cassie! Love reading your posts and giggling at your shenanigans.

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  21. those pictures are almost to amazing to look at- my dream vacation- especially enjoying a glass of red wine on the terrace

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  22. 15 years ago I went to Europe on a tour with a male friend that I worked with (outside sales, not together in an office) that I never remotely thought about dating. Our trip was for 19 days to 7 countries. About the 12th day of our trip we were walking through Florence eating gelato after a wine filled night and started holding hands and then he kissed me! We've been together ever since, married with 2 kids. :) Must be something in the gelato...or the wine.

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  23. I'm on vacation in Europe right now, just catching up on a couple of your posts tonight while I wind down from a long day of walking. I've been eating gelato here (for the first time), and my favorite flavor so far is pistachio. So refreshing!

    You and Mr. SP are so adorable (even with his crazy socks). Just had to say it. Love all your photos, especially how you grouped some of them together. I need to do that when I do the rest of my vacation recaps. It's much more interesting visually than just single photo after single photo. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  24. love this post! I also just got back from Florence (about 2 weeks ago) so this was a nice "ahhhhh" feeling to see it from your camera!

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  25. I loved Florence, but my wallet did not. I got suckered into buying not one, but three leather coats while I was there. I was also a blonde when I was there and was quite popular. Those were the days;)

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  26. Just got back from two wonderful weeks in Europe. 4 days in Milan then on to London and 3 days in Bath and back to London. Hard to believe that was two weeks ago. So much to see and do. Your trip to Venice made us want to ut that in our next vaca. So much to see and so little time and money. ;-)

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  27. You can see by your photos how much you guys love each other - precious! I've never thought of traveling to such far off places. It looks so wonderful. It makes me know that it's possible to do. Maybe we can do that someday!

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  28. Ahhhh - this brings so many memories back to me from my trip in October. We stayed in Rome, Sorrento, and then Florence. So fun. And you are right - gelato EVERYWHERE. One of the girls I was with had to stop at each gelato shop, so imagine how many times we stopped. LOL Thanks for sharing. I wrote about my trip in case you were interested: http://adventuresindiy1759.blogspot.com/2012/10/fall-vacation.html

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  29. What an amazing.... place, These photo's are wonderful, Florence is the capital city of the italian, it is a best place to stay.Florence is a treasure trove with so many things to see.

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  30. I can't wait to check out all of your Italy posts! We are planning to go to Italy as the grand finale to our expat time in the UK this summer. From what I see here, we won't be disappointed! :) Tanya

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  31. The pictures of your post are just astonishing! Thank you for such a tribute to our beloved Florence.
    All visitors should follow your advice about the view from the Rinascente! great tip!
    If you are coming to Milan, go to the top floor at the Rinascente and you will get the best view of the Duomo. ;)

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Your comments are like popcorn with milk duds, I just can't quit them. Thanks for taking the time to share your positive thoughts! xoxo, cass

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