After an amazing 5 days in Milan and Tuscany, we were headed off to Florence. Not only would this be our first big(ish) city, but it was also our first time on our own. No more Tizzy/Nick tour guides, no more fluent Italian, and no more delicious restaurant recommendations. Just us, our maps, and our stomachs to guide us.
Okay, so maybe this would only be the case for like, 2 days. We were joining up with Nick again in Rome :).
But STILL. Here we go!
Nick and Tizzy dropped us off at the train station, and we boarded our train to Florence. Fingers crossed that we were on the right train. And would get off at the correct station.
Not going to lie, we were a tad bit nervous about our first train trip abroad. BUT, the Italian train system is actually incredibly easy to navigate (thank goodness for us), and we happily arrived in Florence an hour later.
We promptly got lost (this became a recurring theme every time we got to a new city). Our Google maps didn’t work without internet, so we had to quickly find a cafe, buy an espresso to earn the wifi password (oh darn), and take some snaps of the route to our AirBnb.
Of course, we’d walked in the complete opposite direction, and we’d only been 5 minutes from our destination.
Still recovering from the previous day’s adventures, we took a solid 3 hour nap. When we woke up, it had been a whole 5 ish hours since we’d ingested carbs, so of course, we were starving.
We set out to do some exploring, and to find Pino’s Sandwiches, which was a recommended panini spot that had tons of veg options.
One of the many reasons Florence is a kick ass city because it’s super easy to navigate. It’s on the smaller side, and has some centrally located landmarks that help you find your way around. Even though we were barely there for 48 hours, we became pretty good at finding our way around.
Pino’s was literally everything you imagine an Italian panini shop to be. It’s tucked into an ally, away from the main sites, which makes for more affordable prices. We both got a veggie sandwich with spinach, tomato, cheese, artichoke, and onions. Ben got pesto and I got spicy red sauce. It was to DIE for. Super fresh ingredients, crunchy bread, huge hot sandwiches… There’s literally nothing wrong with this picture.
Not to mention, we got both our sandwiches, wine, and water, for only 14 euro.
After stuffing our faces full of delicious panini goodness, we went on the hunt for gelato. On the way, we caught our first look at the Duomo. Ben absolutely fell in love with this architectural beauty, and spent the rest of the night looking up information about it.
The next morning, Ben discovered the cafe directly below us had tiny pizzas for only .50 euro. It was honestly like a small child who had discovered a unicorn in his garage. He was SO excited. Let’s just say we ate a lot of those pizzas in the next 24 hours.
Our first stop was to hit up the local market. This place was HUGE. It had essentially every ingredient you could ever desire (meat, cheese, pasta, spices, etc.). But the big draw for us was the incredible selection of fresh produce.
The only downside were the mildly terrifying Italian women who ran the individual stands.
We soon began to realize that telling them we didn’t speak Italian would not deter them from going off on us in their native language. One lady yelled at Ben for touching the fruit, and insisted she would pick it out for him, while the lady at the next stand told him to do it himself. It was comical to say the least.
We spent the day roaming the city and nomming on delicious bites here and there. We checked out the Duomo in daytime, a few of the Piazzas, and the Basilica of Santa Croce.
It poured on us for a solid 4 hours, so we used this as another excuse to take an Italian siesta.
While walking to Pino’s the night before, we spied a restaurant that advertised farm to table, so we had to try that out. We couldn’t actually remember the name of it, so we got to spend another 45 minutes on our tired little feeties trying to find it.
During this time, we clearly looked lost, and a man stopped us and told us he could help us get to our destination. We quickly realized he was taking us in the opposite direction we needed to go (not a good sign), and he was rambling on and on about some very stange stuff. We both knew there was something off about the situation, so when he wasn’t looking, we ducked into an ally and ran as fast as we could.
Our reaction might have sounded extreme, but this guy was giving off a super weird vibe, and we had to go with our instincts, especially since we knew he wasn’t taking us in the direction we asked him to.
Don’t ever put yourself into an unsafe situation just to be polite!
Eventually, we did find San Michele all’Arco. And it was totally worth the extra hour of cardio and Taken-esque encounter. This restaurant prides itself in growing many of it’s own ingredients, and sourcing the others locally. They had a whole book on the table about their farm and vineyard, and our waitress told us their current harvest was tomatoes.
Neither Ben nor I are huge straight tomato fans, but these tomatoes these served us were incredible. We can’t even describe it. They were super sweet, and the texture was like velvet.
For the main course Ben got a tomato soup, and I got fresh pasta with the local tomatoes and parmesan cheese.
What they brought to Ben was NOT what we were expecting. It looked like they’d pureed the bread inside the tomato soup. He was a little apprehensive about digging in. But oh Italian cuisine, how could we doubt you?! It was like the most delicious, creamy, rich tomato soup you’d ever eaten. And my pasta was like clouds with tiny tomato angels on top.
Both full and happy, we strolled the streets of Florence for a little while longer. But after an 8 mile day of exploring, and as much as we wanted to stay out, we were exhausted.
But no matter how tired or full you are in Italy… There’s always room for gelato :).
The next morning we were sad to be leaving Florence, but excited to be heading to Rome. We definitely could have spent another day or two exploring more, but I suppose we’ll just have to save that for next time.
Until then Florence!