We drove down to Florence on Wednesday morning. It took about 7 hours or so... getting there wasn't bad, however finding the hotel took a bit of time. Especially since we'd hoped the GPS my step-dad gave us this summer would help us (we also had written directions, but directions relying on street names I keep finding are nearly useless in many European cities where street signs are either non-existent or hard to find/read, and where streets change names every other block anyway) but the maps that Zach had loaded the day before didn't seem to have actually gotten saved on the device so... yeah. But we found the hotel, which was in a great location (close to the train station and the duomo). After checking in we walked around a bit to check out the area, and then had dinner at a trattoria that was pretty good, although Zach's food wasn't that great and left him with an upset stomach. =(
Thursday morning I woke up with a sore throat and a bit of a stuffy nose. =( We went by the Uffizi but the line was already way long (an estimated 2-3 hr wait) so we decided to save that for another day and wound up at the Palazzio Pitti and saw some interesting exhibits there. We also found this great little place to have lunch, I had a kick-ass pizza there. After lunch we walked around one of the Palazzio's gardens and then started heading back to the hotel around 4:30ish... but kept getting sidetracked by shopping, and didn't actually get there till 6:30. ; ) We rested for a bit, then had dinner, and then called it a night.
Friday morning Zach and Jen were set to try the Uffizi again, getting there at opening time. Feeling the effects of my cold, I decided to let them go while I stayed at the hotel. I did get up and have breakfast with them at 7am, on the top floor of the hotel, and we enjoyed an utterly gorgeous view of the sky as sunrise began. Up till then it had been cloudy and drizzly/rainy, but Friday the sky was mostly clear and sunny. It seems a shame thinking back that I spent the one sunny day sleeping in the hotel room, but it's what I needed so... oh well. Daddy also stayed behind (though I think he went walking for a good bit of the morning) and he and I went out to lunch together, then Jen and Zach met up with us in the early afternoon. Afterwards Jen and I took some time to go explore the shops of Florence while Zach and Daddy took a break. She and I were successful in finding a pair of boots she'd wanted, and then b/c we got 20% off our 2nd purchase I talked myself into buying these very cute grey sueded flats. =P
We all met up again and walked across the river in search of a bar where the 3 of them could enjoy some happy hour specials, but apparently we picked the wrong area to walk through (Lonely Planet led us astray) b/c we didn't find much... however we did end up stopping into this cute restaurant we'd seen before for a drink, and then stayed there for dinner. I loved the feel and decor of the place, and the food was also pretty fantastic.
Saturday we checked out the duomo, Zach and Jen thought about climbing up to the top of the bell tower but it was another grey, drizzly day so they decided to wait and see if Sunday morning might be better weather. Instead we walked by the Accademia (Zach's brother, when he'd been here this summer, said the only thing worth seeing there was the David which you could apparently see through the exit door, but alas we could not find the exit... oh well) and then Zach, Jen and Daddy went off to find the Museo Bardini and explore that area while I decided to rest up at the hotel for a couple hours. We met up later in the afternoon at the Piazza della Republica and had a fabulous late lunch at a restaurant there, then went to the Palazzio Vecchio to check it out. The rooms there were amazing, almost ridiculous with the decorations and mural paintings everywhere! We later found a very cute, very hip restaurant for dinner (with some very cute young male waiters that Jen grew fond of). Daddy and I walked back to the hotel and called it a night, while Jen and Zach took advantage of the more happening nightlife in that part of town and had a drink or 2 at nearby bars.
Sunday morning we had breakfast, then Jen and Zach thought about climbing the bell tower near the duomo but the day was even more foggy than the day before, and they'd gotten some good pictures from the top of a hill the day before anyway. So we packed and were on the road by about 11am. I had feared that this drive back would be long and uncomfortable due to me being heavily pregnant and all... instead the drive was long and uncomfortable b/c I was still suffering from this infernal cold and was either blowing my nose every 2 minutes, or annoyed by my overly-dried-out nasal passages (funny how the 2 extremes go together like that). I think we made it home around 7pm or so. We all made it an early night.
Overall I really liked Florence. The cobblestone streets and old buildings had a lot of character to them (and I'd love to see more of the city when the weather isn't so crappy). An goodness, the shopping! SO MANY cute stores, not to mention all the stands and street vendors everywhere. I'm not sure if/when we'll get a chance to go back, but I hope we do.
Pictures from Florence
Today my nose is still stuffy and my throat still a tinge sore, so I resolved to spend the day resting (and uploading pictures, catching up on blogs, etc). Jen and Daddy went into Geneva in the afternoon, riding the bus in, and I think had a fun time exploring the city on their own a bit. The sun was out today (after some early morning showers) and it didn't seem that cold, hopefully the nice weather continues tomorrow so we can go explore a bit more together.
By the way, Zach now really wants to move to Italy and learn Italian sometime. He's decided that Italians are his favorite group of Europeans. =P