I returned recently from a European girls getaway with my three sisters and Florence was our first destination. What can I say, other than bellissimo!
With its red-tiled roofs, centuries-old architecture and open plazas, Florence is perfect for exploring on foot. Shortly after arriving, we walked over to Rivoire â€“ a cafÃ© conveniently located in the Piazza della Signoria. We visited with a friend over drinks and decadent desserts and soaked up the historic surroundings. The chocolate-covered profiteroles were the group favorite.
For art, we visited the Accademia museum where we saw Michelangelo’s famous statue of David. We also visited the Uffizi museum, which contains the Medici collection of Renaissance art and is located in a classic building overlooking the Arno River.
We had lunch one day at Trattoria Mario â€“ a local hang-out where you sit at communal tables. We ordered the Bistecca alla Florentina (steak cooked rare) with rosemary garlic white beans (yum) and pasta. The Italian man we sat next to was so generous he offered samples of his dishes so we would know what to order — just one example of the Italian hospitality we found everywhere.
Some of the things I enjoyed most about Florence were found by strolling down the narrow streets between the plazas. Florence is made up of tiny shops and artisan-based businesses. In one shop’s window I saw a man working on a cello, on another street a man was carving an ornate wood frame. In the Santa Croce leather district, at the back of a shop I saw a woman and her assistant creating leather jackets with exquisite workmanship. I saw a man embossing gold leaf to leather books, and a woman making jewelry using Murano glass. Walking past a building where an opera singer was practicing an aria just rounded out my Italian experience.