Florence, Italy | Days 1 - 3 | Europe 2015

Last month, Rob and I finally took the big Europe trip that we'd been talking about ever since we started dating. For me, this would be my first time in Europe, and for Rob, his third. The entire trip lasted 14 days, in which we visited 6 different cities: Florence, Cinque Terre, Vienna, Budapest, The Cotswolds (in the English countryside), and Oxford/London. Of course I saw a million beautiful things and took a million photos as a result, and over the next few weeks, I'll be making 6 different blogposts, one for each city. All photos are taken with the amazing Sony a7s or my iPhone 5. We begin our journey in beautiful Florence, Italy. 

DAY 1: Santa Maria Novella Hotel

The first day in Florence was a whirlwind. After 13 hours of flying, including a short but hectic layover in Paris, we walked out of the Firenze Airport into the blinding sun at 9 am. A junky cab picked us up from the airport and after a bumpy 20 minutes of winding through narrow and uneven roads, we turned into the city center, and arrived at the beautiful Santa Maria Novella Hotel, where we are staying. Vowing to stay awake until at least early evening to fight off jet lag, we strolled around the city, marveling at the sites and eating gelato, before climbing up to the rooftop of our hotel to enjoy the tranquil Florence evening.

The gelato was creamier than anything I'd tried in the States. Rob was very diligent in his gelato research and visited a bunch of highly recommended ones, including: EdoardoGromm, and Gelateria dei Neri

Some glimpses inside the Hotel Santa Maria Novella where we stayed. Interesting... yet flawless.

At night, we ate at this sandwich shop, La Prosciutteria. It was small and crazy inside; ordering was intimidating. But eventually we were handed a beautiful board full of interesting bread, cheese, meat, and spreads. There was no room inside, so the crowd has spilled outside into the streets. We sat on the sidewalk, along the narrow cobble-stoned roads, balancing our board and glasses of wine on our knees as night fell.

Day 2: Accademia Gallery / Uffizi Gallery

We rose before sunrise and went to the rooftop of our hotel to enjoy the day break. From there, we tried getting an early start on museum hopping, which apparently is very serious business in Florence! We arrived at the Accademia Museum at 8:30 am, and already there was a long line that stretched around the corner. In the afternoon, we visited the Uffizi Museum, before meeting up with friends for dinner (and lots and lots of wine). The photos below are some of my very favorites from the entire trip. The early morning light in Florence was absolutely magical: warm and hazy, falling onto magnificent buildings and flooding narrow walkways. I felt like I was in a make-believe land far-far away... 

While waiting in line for the Accademia Gallery, Rob got us reservations to the Uffizi Gallery later in the afternoon so that we wouldn't have to wait in line for that. The Accademia is full of beautiful Renaissance art, and houses the famous David statue, by Michaelango. I was astounded by the amount of religious art during this time period -- it was a rare to find a piece of art that wasn't inspired by a Biblical story or hung on the walls of a cathedral. 

A blog post about Florence wouldn't be complete without a picture of the magnificent Duomo, part of the cathedral Santa Maria Del Fiore. The building is ginormous, probably spans 3 or 4 city blocks, or more. We sadly didn't get a chance to go inside, but it was something we passed by everyday, walking to and from our hotel. 

Some images inside the Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous. 

In the late afternoon, we strolled alongside the Arno River, crossing one of the bridges and then a different one back. The colorful buildings stacked along the rivers edge made everything feel so whimsical!

In the evening, we met up with some other Etsians attending the same conference . Our first choice of restaurant was full, so we settled for something a couple of buildings down, at Trattoria Gargani, which was not bad at all. I quickly learned that Italians love their wine. We were each served a glass of Prosecco while waiting, and another dessert wine at the end, in addition to the 3 bottles that we went through ourselves ^_^.

Day 3: Central Market / Museum of Archaeology / Santa Croce Basilica / Galileo Museum

Sadly I missed all of Day 3. I was busy attending (and presenting) at WWW 2015, the main reason for this entire trip. So, I handed over my camera to Rob for the day and gave him all photography responsibilities! Luckily he did a great job capturing his adventures. First stop was the Mercato Centrale, or Florence's Central Market. He wouldn't stop raving about the adorable berries. 

Next, he stopped at the National Archaeology Museum. The Chimera of Arezzo (a lion with a goat's head and a snake for a tail) was a big deal.

Wandered into the courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio, and then stopped by the Basilica of Santa Croce. Take note of the stunning wooden roof, and also the cover of an ancient music manuscript. Isn't it lovely? So much more whimsical and beautiful than music manuscripts these days! 

Last stop, and possibly his favorite: The Galileo Museum, full of Galileo's original possessions, as well as general apparatuses that contributed to the development of science.

The last couple of hours of the night are pictureless, but I can wholeheartedly recommend the bar and restaurant where we went to celebrate two successful Etsy presentations: BrewDog Firenze, which made us feel like we were back in Brooklyn, and L'Osteria Di Giovanni where we had amazing pasta and wine. This was our final day in Florence. Stay tuned for Day 4, where we take a train to the whimsical place on earth: Cinque Terre!