Staying on the Mediterranean, literally.
Porto Cesareo – 2016
***Warning – long post ahead so grab a drink and a biscuit!***
We left not so bright and not so early on the day we were supposed to go to Florence, and with a fair amount of driving to do to get there we arrived around 11am in the city.
Once the car parked, we headed straight into the the city centre looking for an early lunch. First stop was Mercato di San Lorenzo, a covered market where the locals do their grocery shopping.
Don’t get tricked by the market rustic feel at the entrance! Head toward the middle of the building and upstairs and you will find a very trendy indoor food market where you can order from various market stalls and sit down to enjoy your pick. That was lunch sorted for us!
Once done with our respective panini and pizza, we headed out toward the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. One of the most famous sights in Florence.
The facade of the cathedral will probably remind you of Siena’s cathedral. White and dark marble covers the outside walls. A true architectural wonder!
Make sure to also visit the inside which is as impressive as the outside with its ceiling frescos.
Here is a little tip for the best view of Florence cathedral! Walk to the back of the Cathedral and head toward the Biblioteca delle Oblate (the public library), enter the library, go to the top floor and tadaaaaah! One of the best view of the cathedral! It’s our little secret now, don’t tell anyone!
Back in the street we headed to our next stop, to the famous Gilli on Piazza della Repubblica for a coffee break.
Well caffeinated, we started our walk through Florence streets and markets and walked to the Palazzo Vecchio.
On the outside you will find an ‘outdoor’ museum (the Loggia) with multiple statues displayed, some very famous such as David’s statue.
As we were running a little bit late that day, we decided not to visit the museum, however I visited it before and if you have time it ABSOLUTELY worth it!
We quickly swung by Piazza di Santa Croce to have a look at the Basilica of Santa Croce.
Our next stop, Ponte Vecchio of course! If you have only seen one picture of Florence ever, chances are it is one of the Ponte Vecchio.
Now, let’s be real here, it is PACKED with tourists so being on the bridge itself isn’t that pleasant. So make sure to dedicate plenty of time to take pictures of the bridge rather then on it.
The bridge is famously covered with houses and shops, almost all of them are jewellery stores! Unsurprisingly, you will see women stopping a lot and men pulling them away from the shops’ windows (guilty!).
Once on the other side, we took a moment to appreciate the views of the Corridoio Vasariano and the river Arno, before heading toward Piazzale Michelangelo.
We climbed, and climbed, and climbed, and started to have a glimpse of the breathtaking view that was Waiting for us at the top.
Make sure to reach Piazzale Michelangelo for the sunset. You will be in for a treat of a lifetime!
We took a few pictures, but it was getting so busy that we decided to look for a quieter spot and to climb even higher to Abbazia di San Miniato al Monte.
We visited the hilltop church which is tiny so it only takes 10 minutes and then sat to look at the sunset.
Once the sun was fully gone for the day, we headed back down looking for a nice spot for dinner and ended at Trattoria Cammillo which I highly recommend.
Here you go! If you have a day in Florence, follow our steps and you won’t be disappointed!
Enoteca (plural: Enoteche) is an Italian word that is derived from the Greek word Οινοθήκη, which literally means “wine repository” (from Oeno/Eno- Οινός “wine”, and teca Θήκη, “receptacle, case, box”), but it is used to describe a special type of local or regional wine shop that originated in Italy. (Source: Wikipedia)
My type of place.
Otranto – 2016
If you are travelling to Tuscany chances are you will arrive and leave from Pisa airport (this is where most EasyJet and Ryanair flights land). It was the case for us and as our flight was in the evening we decided to spend our last afternoon in Tuscany, in Pisa.
People may not think of Pisa when thinking of Tuscany but it is one of the biggest cities in the region, and with its very famous sights it does worth stopping there for a few hours.
It is good to note that parking in Pisa can be a little bit of a nightmare so plan a good 30 minutes just in case it takes some time to find a spot to park.
Pisa city centre is quite condensed and everything is walking distance. Start your visit with, of course, the very famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Take a few cliche pictures, then take pictures of the people taking some cheesy pictures!
Once you filled up your SD card with pictures of your blurry hand and the tower, head toward the Cattedrale di Pisa and the Piazza del Duomo. The entire area is just stunning and the architectural details of the buildings worth taking a moment to appreciate.
We didn’t have time for it, as our flight was that night, but if you have an extra hour you can purchase some tickets to visit the local museum, the Cathedral and climb the Tower.
After wandering around the Tower area we headed to the city centre. It seems most tourists don’t adventure much beyond the main sights so Pisa centre is actually fairly quiet and very charming.
We grabbed one last gelato and then headed to the airport, our heads full of Tuscanian dreams, our bellies full of Italian food.
One thing Italians do extremely well, among many other things, is coffee or caffè!
Sitting at a terrace to sip on an espresso is an integral part of the Italian lifestyle. Which is the same for French people! So I just felt at home when taking a sit at a table on Gilli‘s terrace in Florence!
Gilli is an institution in Florence. It has been serving coffee to the locals since 1733. You will find it on the main square, Piazza della Repubblica, right in the centre of town.
The interior is very elegant, real interior goals if you like grand and classic design. But if you are visiting on a warm day, take a sit on the huge terrace and watch the world passing by.
Pick from their selection of coffees – espresso, caffè freddo, cappuccino, the world is your oyster!
Now the most difficult decision you will have to make is if you also fancy a little bit of food and more particularly a sweet treat. Gilli’s shop windows are decorated with the most beautiful and delicious-looking treats. And this is only the outside!
Go inside and pick from a huge selection of colourful pastries. Cannolis, fruit tarts, chocolate cakes, pick the best looking one!
We went for coffees only, I picked a cold cappuccino and Andrew went for an espresso with a little bit of chocolate in it (I forgot the name, sorry!). It is good to note that you will be served a selection of biscuits with your coffee, so if you are not very hungry don’t order a pastry, save your appetite for these!
So does it really worth visiting Gilli? I would say yes, once, for the experience. The coffees are good, but the place is a little bit pretentious and you can tell the prices reflect some of the waiters’ attitude. We had a lovely time there and I am glad we went, but I don’t feel the need to rush back.