Florence is a place you should try to see at least once in your lifetime. For “The Golden Girls”, two of us were making repeat visits. That meant this had to be a unique and fun experience for each of us to remember.
Little did we know our memorable experience would start as soon as we got there.
As you recall, Mustang Sally was left behind in Girona, Spain so that we could take the late night flight to Pisa, Italy.
That meant from here on out, we were getting from place to place by plane, train, bus and cab.
“Nothing wrong with that,” you say.
Well, it depends on who you’re traveling with. You see, (1) none of The Golden Girls know north and south from east and west; (2) trying to read a map is a joke; and (3) we’re all “blonds” to the root.
We arrived at the train station in Florence from Pisa with all our luggage, bags and hats in tow. Planning to take a cab to the AIRBNB apartment, we were pleased that someone met us immediately to take us to the front of the cab stand.
But wait. It wasn’t a strong, burly cab driver.
It was a petite young girl. She quickly grabbed our bags, putting two under each arm. Pulling rolling bags with her hands, she darted about the crowded train station. Through the crowds, down the stairs, to the outside, up more stairs, and then to the cab stand. It was then that we discovered the place we landed looked very familiar. She had taken us in a circle. The cab stand was basically where we got off the train… just outside the door.
We had been duped. She just wanted to hustle us for a tip.
Hint #1: Get your own cab at the train station in Florence.
Fortunately, the cab driver was honest and took us directly to our AIRBNB apartment — although he couldn’t take us to the door. Our building was on the street of one of the busiest marketplaces in town.- San Lorenzo. Yippee!
You know that’s not a problem for us. Bring it on! Shopping at our doorstep.
Even better, the apartment and the hosts were terrific. We had our own place with three bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room. After our ordeal in Pisa, this was a palace.
Shopping, Eating and Walking
Two of us had seen all the museums, churches and gold-laced artwork we wanted to see on previous trips to Florence. Golden Girl #3 had no interest in the above. So we set out to make this trip memorable with everything else that Florence has to offer.
Shop ’til you drop
One of the biggest markets in Florence was at our doorstep. — San Lorenzo. Need I say more? There were leather goods everywhere. So many choices and so little space to fit purchases. Believe it or not, I bought nothing!
There were plenty of temptations. Florence is a mecca for leather, jewelry and high fashion.
Tourists were everywhere. It was easier to find someone speaking English than anywhere else we’d been. Picking out locals from visitors was no problem.
Eat often. Eat well
We had no real agenda for tours or anything else. Our meals and restaurant stops were not scheduled.
An inviting cafe surrounded by interesting sights and sounds would draw our attention and we’d pop in for a drink or a meal. We surely missed a lot of well-known and fabulous restaurants by not focusing on where to eat. However, with no car and no real schedule, mealtime was not a priority. Regardless, you can see we ate well.
A little gnocchi with aubergine and tomato here ..
A little fried avocado there …
Bruschetta as often as possible
Our apartment host was a chef at a local restaurant, so he gave us a few suggestions for places to eat. One was so good we returned for every meal!
Check out La Falterona
Hint #2: Eat where you please. It’s all good!
If there’s music, even better!
Visiting Florence, you feel like you’re walking back through history. Ornate buildings, voluptuous statues and narrow streets remind you of another time. The smallest detail on a structure has meaning and a story behind it.
Like this monument on the side of a building. Its design gave rise to the tradition of encasing important religious items in glass enclosures. It was hidden away on a side street in Florence’s busy tourist area.
The Duomo is a study in art, architecture and history all in one. Perhaps you’ve never noticed this ornament at one of the entrances to the cathedral. An ancient compass.
Hint #3: Take a tour
So you can eat more!
Hint #4: Watch where you walk
There are bicycles and motorcycles that think they have the right-of-way. I’m not kidding. It’s a problem and a danger, but it’s all part of being in Florence.
Best of Florence
For me, the best part of returning to Florence was to share good times with good friends.
Visit Ponte Vecchio once more.
And look at handsome Italian men!
Next stop: Cinque Terre