travel bug: europe, part ii

We left for Florence on Sunday afternoon, taking the fast train from Venice. Well, because the earthquake’s epicenter was between Venice and Florence, our train trip was not as speedy as we had hoped. This ended up being a bit of a blessing because we were able to sneak in a much needed long nap (jet lag is not fun when you have Italian cities to explore!).

We arrived in a rainy Florence and thanked our lucky stars that I happened to check the forecast before we packed and thus crammed raincoats and an umbrella into our bags. Phew. We wandered over to our hotel, Soggiorno Battistero, which was easy to find since it is right on the Piazza del Duomo (seriously, right.on.the.square!). The below picture was taken later on in our trip, but our window is in the top row of windows in the yellowish building (with green shutters) on the right hand side of the picture.

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Despite the rain, we decided to wander around to start to orient ourselves to the city. And we got drenched. So, naturally, we stopped in at a local cafe to grab a cappuccino and dry off. Then we headed back to the hotel to rest and change for dinner.

The owners of our wonderful little hotel were so helpful in advance of our trip, answering my frequent emails quickly and helping us make the difficult decision of where to eat while in town. For dinner our first night, we went to Boccadama, which is right on the Piazza Santa Croce. It was a nice spot for our first night since it was right on the square and had lots of delicious (cheap!) wine. We sat, undisturbed, with our vino for quite a while which was lovely. The food was so so, which would have been disappointing if we had been wanting anything more than a comfy (dry!) place with good wine. After dinner, we meandered back to our hotel, stopping for gelato on the way, and crashed hard (after saying a little prayer for the rain to end before we woke up!).

Sadly, our prayers went unanswered and we awoke to raindrops on our window. Fortunately, we had a beautiful breakfast brought to us (in our room!) complete with my favorite coffee of the trip. After fueling up, we grabbed our rain jackets and umbrellas and took to the streets, undeterred by the rain. It slowed a bit while we were out and we got to really enjoy a quiet Florence, which we realized later was a rarity this time of year!

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We spent most of the morning wandering around, popping in and out of cafes when the rain would pick up. When our tummies started rumbling, we found our way to ‘ino, a little sandwich shop near the Ponte Vecchio (our plan was to wander around the Oltrarno – the other side of the Arno – after lunch). Ino was a gem! Delicious sandwiches on freshly baked bread were just what we needed for our afternoon of walking (and walking and walking). Don’t feel too bad for us, all the walking resulted in some pictures like this:

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Ok, this has become quite long… So, the rest of Florence (and more of these great views!) in part iii.

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