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Joe's summer trip to Florence Italy

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  • Trip Report Joe's summer trip to Florence Italy

    For the first four days of our trip, we explored Rome. That whole story is on another MC post here:
    After we spend 4 days in Florence, we'll be heading up to Paris to meet up with Jacob and Ruston where we'll explore the Disneyland Paris Resort plus the city of Paris for a week. Keep an eye out for that trip report too.

    Today we're traveling up north to Florence!
    It's 175 miles north of Rome, so we'll be taking the train to get there.

    Here's all the places we went during the day.

    To find the bed and breakfast, we had to look for two restaurants. There is a door in the middle that we buzz into and head up a few stairs. We buzzed in and I carried both our bags up 4 flights of stairs to the entrance.

    Not sure where to start, we walked to the Baptistry.

    The Duomo museum is just behind the church itself. We were expecting to pay 15 Euro each for a 4 day combo ticket to get us into all the sites like the Rick Steves guidebook said, but lucked out in that they had a 1 day combo ticket for just 10 Euro each.

    One of the first items you see as you enter are the original Gates of Paradise designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti in 1401, which took him 21 years to complete. The doors hanging on the Baptistry now are copies for the tourists.

    The original doors hung on the Baptistry until 1990, when they were removed for restoration. Centuries of deposits, salts, and flooding had tarnished these once golden doors. In the lobby of the museum was a video showing the restoration process. Check out the difference! In 2010, having completed their restoration, they were placed in the Duomo Museum.

    Inside the museum were also some of the models presented by artists trying to win the commission to build the cathedral.

    One of the more interesting sculptures here was The Deposition, also called the Florence Pieta, by Michelangelo. Michelangelo originally worked on this sculpture in 1543 when he was in his 70s. It shows Christ being lowered from the cross by his mother Mary, Mary Magdalene and Nicodemus. Michelangelo actually gave his own features to Nicodemus, who was also said to be a sculpture.
    After working on it for 8 years, Michelangelo discovered a flaw in the grain of the marble and was so frustrated that he took a hammer to it and broke off Christ's arm, leg and Mary's elbow. He left it mutilated and unfinished. It was later restored by one of his students.

    Having already seen works by Michelangelo and Raphael on this trip, we can now claim a third Ninja Turtle. This wood carving called Magdalene Penitent was created by Donatello around 1453. Theresa and I both thought she looked a little scary.

    After one last look at the Gates of Paradise, we head out to the Baptistry.

    The Baptistry is one of the oldest buildings in Florence, having been built around 1059. The previous baptistry was in the center of the structure. Many notable people were baptized here including Dante Alighieri (known for writing Dante's Inferno) and many members of the Medici family.

    Starting in 1568, a smaller font started being used for baptisms.

    Not the best 360 I've done, but it's all I've got. Probably the last time I try to use my fish-eye lens to create a panorama. Click here to see a 360 degree view of the baptistry.

    Here's a better look at the altar

    The mosaic ceiling above features the Last Judgement.

    Built in 1296, this cathedral was started before they even had the technology or know-how to build the dome to cap it off. It wasn't until 1420, nearly 125 years later that work on the dome finally began.
    After seeing St Peters and other cathedrals with decoration everywhere, I was surprised to see such a plain white ceiling in the nave.

    The floor inside had some very interesting geometric shapes.

    Walking up to the front though, the Dome of the Duomo really impresses. When Michelangelo was designing the dome of St Peters in the Vatican, he used this dome as inspiration. He said, I will build her sister bigger, but no more beautiful.

    The interior of the dome covers almost 39,000 sq ft and was painted over 11 years by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari.

    At the back of the church, you can actually go down stairs and under the floor to see what the foundation and crypt looks like. It was built on the ruins of another church and used as the burial site for Florentine bishops.

    Also buried here is Filippo Brunelleschi, the designer of the dome, being given quite a position of respect being buried with the high ranking bishops.

    Looking down at Theresa from the first level. There are 4 separate levels to take a break on. It was also pretty cramped quarters climbing up, so it you met anyone climbing down, you had to both squeeze to the side to get by. Not the best climb if you happen to be claustrophobic.

    Looking toward the Baptistry.

    There is also a Dome climb available, which is a few feet higher than the bell tower, but from the bell tower, you get a much better view!

    On the third level, there was a metal grate that you could stand on top of and it was just you, the grate, and 150ish feet of air between you and the first level. Some people like me stood on top and took a picture. Others only dared to hold their camera over the edge and point it down.

    Catching both the Baptistry and the Florence Duomo in one shot.

    It's ridiculously high up here.

    Looking back towards the Piazza de Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio.

    And using my zoom lens, you can actually see the door to our hotel.

    There were some fun decorations in the Disney store as well. I really like all the Italy specific artwork on the walls.

    Some of my favorite Disney nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, though the colors of their costumes are mixed up.

    Will this European swimsuit fit me?

    Whew! Quite a few Disney pictures there.

    We made it to the grocery store and bought some drinks, fruit and snacks.

    We went back inside the hotel to drop off our groceries, looked up the closest laundry facilities headed back out.

    The laundry place was clean and close. Since we only ever do carry-on, we're going to have to stop and do laundry a couple times on our 2.5 week trip. We spent an hour in the laundry facilities doing laundry and reading about all the places we wanted to go during the rest of our time here and what order we were going to do it in.
    Laundry finished, we headed back to the hotel to drop it off and then out to a late 9pm dinner.

    T got a lemon and strawberry and mixed the two. The lemon by itself was very tart, but mixed with the strawberry became delicious.

    I chose a coconut, plus 2 kinds of chocolate and I don't know what they were. I just asked her to pick for me and she did a good job.
    Also check out:
    Joe's Epic Overnight Disneyland Dream Suite Trip Report

    Joe's Epic Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report - 15 days
    Disneyland Candlelight Processional Photos - 2014 (Beau Bridges), 2012 (Kurt Russell), 2012 (Edward James Olmos), 2012 (Dick Van Dyke), 2012 (John Stamos), 2011 (Gary Sinise), 2010 (Tom Skerritt), 2009 (Jon Voight), 2008 (John Stamos)

    Or visit my blog at

  • #2
    Re: Joe's summer trip to Florence Italy

    I'm eating your trip report up!!! We are booking our trip this week.
    London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Santorini and Athens for 17 days in May! I am crazy excited and your trip report is giving me a ton of great insight! I was curious how you handle money on your trips, you have been so many times I assume you have found the right formula. I keep hearing a prepaid European Visa is the way to go. Any advice?
    Thank you!!!


    • #3
      Re: Joe's summer trip to Florence Italy

      Glad you're enjoying it!
      I hope your trip turns out awesome. How are you getting yourself around everywhere?

      As far as money goes, we've never tried a prepaid European Visa. Sounds like it could work out though.

      When we travel we usually do two things. First we have a debit card and when we land at the airport, we get out a few hundred Euros cash from the ATM.
      Second, we'll bring a chipped credit card that has no foreign transaction fees and just call the credit card company a week before to let them know we're traveling internationally.
      Click image for larger version

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      For carrying the money and cards around, I always have my Rick Steves money belt on with the bulk of the cash and the credit cards. I'll carry 40 Euro just in my pocket as well, just so I don't have to go digging in the money belt all the time. I'll also pay with cash for restaurants if it's not to expensive so my credit card doesn't leave my sight too often. As long as you're mindful of it, you shouldn't have any problems.
      Also check out:
      Joe's Epic Overnight Disneyland Dream Suite Trip Report

      Joe's Epic Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report - 15 days
      Disneyland Candlelight Processional Photos - 2014 (Beau Bridges), 2012 (Kurt Russell), 2012 (Edward James Olmos), 2012 (Dick Van Dyke), 2012 (John Stamos), 2011 (Gary Sinise), 2010 (Tom Skerritt), 2009 (Jon Voight), 2008 (John Stamos)

      Or visit my blog at


      • #4
        Re: Joe's summer trip to Florence Italy

        The room gets pretty nice and dark. Going to sleep, we were hearing some banging around on the floors above us, so we both got out our ear plugs (a travel necessity!). Combine that with the sound machine and a dark room and we both slept until 10:30am. We got everything ready for the day and left for the Palazzo Vecchio.

        Here's where we ended up going today. Pretty much stayed in a small area.

        Walking up the main stairs, we come to a huge hallway lines with lots of statues of one of my favorites, Hercules!

        It shows lots of his Labors all around the room.

        The rest of the palace was lots of decorated rooms with fancy paintings and statues. They even had a Hercules room with paintings of some of his labors and a bust.

        The map room was interesting. It had a giant globe in the center and maps on the walls corresponding to numbers on the globe, showing more detail.

        Here's the view from the mid-level. We walked around the mid-level, then T found a nice spot to sit in the shade while I went up to the top.

        There was one side though that had a small staircase set away from the side so you can look towards the Duomo without an obstructed view. After a few minutes, I was on my way back down.

        Our backup was to go to the other restaurant we tried to go to last night but reservations were needed. Ristoranti del Fagioli. We walked up expecting to ask if reservations were available for tonight, but were surprised when they said they could seat us now for lunch. Yes please!

        Around the map area was Amerigo Vespuci. T got her picture with him.

        And me with a bust of Galileo.

        T in front of a telescope display.

        There was a display showing models of babies in a womb. T said "I have one of those!"

        Later though we got to the more mechanical and engineering side of the inventions. Items like the paradox machine that appears to roll uphill.

        Or the static electricity generator that produces sparks big enough to set off gunpowder. There were some interesting videos on the walls showing how the various experiments worked, like the water screw, electro-magnet, engine, etc.

        Our last stop on our journey was the Uffizi gallery. Again our Firenze card saved us time in line. At the xray

        The only disappointment was that there was quite a bit of the Uffizi 2nd level closed. We exited the 2nd level to the rooftop to the cafeteria seating. I had seen this area before from the bell tower and was wondering how you got up here. It is directly over the statues of the Palazzo de Signoria.

        Wanting something quick and not sit down, we opted for a self serve place near the Duomo that got good reviews.

        T found tomatoes and cucumbers cut up on a plate and got those along with minestrone soup. I got tortellini in a white sauce with ham and a piece of bruschetta. Total here for both our meals was only 13.50 Euro. The nice man gave us a pitcher of water to take to the table with us and directed us to glasses (instead of the bottled water that costs money like all the other places).

        After our dinner, we decided to walk a little bit. The Ponte Vecchio bridge is close by, so we headed that direction. We passed a carrousel in a square on the way.

        Also there were some chalk drawings of the Mona Lisa and the Medusa shield by Caravaggio in the street. Reminds me of the Pasadena chalk festival we were just at not long ago.

        And if you put a coin in his mouth and let it fall into the grate below, you're destined to have good luck!

        The sun is starting to set and we grabbed a few pictures on the bridge. We crossed over into south Florence and walked to the bridge east of here, so we could see the sun setting behind the Ponte Vecchio bridge.

        Also check out:
        Joe's Epic Overnight Disneyland Dream Suite Trip Report

        Joe's Epic Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report - 15 days
        Disneyland Candlelight Processional Photos - 2014 (Beau Bridges), 2012 (Kurt Russell), 2012 (Edward James Olmos), 2012 (Dick Van Dyke), 2012 (John Stamos), 2011 (Gary Sinise), 2010 (Tom Skerritt), 2009 (Jon Voight), 2008 (John Stamos)

        Or visit my blog at


        • #5
          Re: Joe's summer trip to Florence Italy

          We are taking trains and the occasional flight to get to our destinations. We have done a lot of traveling other places; Mexico,Jamaica,New York,Hawaii, and so many road trips to California I can't count ( We live in Wa). This is our last big trip before we have kids, so we wanted to see a lot, including one day in Disney Paris. We know we can't do it all, but we are running at it head on.
          I'll have to look into my banks and see if any of them offer the chipped card. We are going to so many destinations, and while we aren't staying in hostels I still worry about having too much cash. We are buying a few tickets and passes before the trip so we don't have to worry when we are there.
          Thanks for the advice!


          • #6
            Re: Joe's summer trip to Florence Italy

            Here's where we're headed today!

            When you're walking through most places in Florence, you're likely going to be going by the Duomo.

            Some of the mosaics though were impressive with all the different colors of stones and small details.

            Those deep blues are really pretty.

            This was a cool table with lots of intricate detail. It was around 11:30am and we decided on an early lunch.

            There were all sorts of fruits and vegetables, as well as plenty of meat markets with some fantastic looking cuts.

            Remember this kitty cat delivery service from our Japan trip?

            Apparently they have it in Italy too.

            I guess they can't all be master sculptors. That "child" looks pretty ridiculous with weird proportions.

            There was another room with a large mural on the ceiling that had a lot of Roman gods and some of their stories that I though was pretty interesting that we were allowed to take pictures of. That plus they had some plastic chairs to sit in, so we spent a few minutes in there.

            Out back was a small garden.

            We started at the bottom of the chapel in the crypts of the Medicis. Next was a walk up the steps to the main chapel. It was a huge domed area inside, but most of it was under construction. T found a seat while I explored a little bit. There were glass pieces with what looked like bones inside them, which is always a little weird to me. (not my photo below)

            The guidebook says there's statues by Michelangelo here, so we went searching. Continuing into the Medici chapel, we did indeed see the carvings.

            We split an apple tart, and I got that Mickey sugar cookie, a chocolate chip cookie, and a strawberry jam cookie. Everything was tasty and it only cost 5.50 Euro.


            We went back to the hotel, walking through the Piazza della Signoria.

            No horse-drawn carriage rides for us today.

            We see the original Rape of the Sabine Women, and Hercules fight the centaur.

            The Rape of Polyxena

            And Perseus holding the head of Medusa among other statues.

            We started with a trio of soup, including a bean soup, and two types of bread soup, a vegetable based one, and a tomato based one. All of them were tasty, we enjoyed the vegetable one most.

            Next was a pasta dish that we split. It had wide egg noodles and the meat was wild boar. It was a little greasy, but still tasty. A little parmesan cheese made it even better.

            To finish the night I took a 360 view of the Palazzo della Signoria. Click here to see it.
            Also check out:
            Joe's Epic Overnight Disneyland Dream Suite Trip Report

            Joe's Epic Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report - 15 days
            Disneyland Candlelight Processional Photos - 2014 (Beau Bridges), 2012 (Kurt Russell), 2012 (Edward James Olmos), 2012 (Dick Van Dyke), 2012 (John Stamos), 2011 (Gary Sinise), 2010 (Tom Skerritt), 2009 (Jon Voight), 2008 (John Stamos)

            Or visit my blog at


            • #7
              Re: Joe's summer trip to Florence Italy

              Loving the trip report so far! My friend, Kari, studied abroad in Florence a few years ago, and she told me how amazing Florence was when she was over there. Looking at your photos, I can see why she fell in love with the place! Florence looks absolutely stunning! Can't wait to see your next installment and for Euro Disney
              My Adventure Blog



              • #8
                Re: Joe's summer trip to Florence Italy

                T loves these fruit and vegetable stands spread throughout the city.

                Our first stop today is the Borgello gallery. After using our Firenze card, we enter the ground floor. There are a lot of coats of arms lining the walls. Also there are a few sculptures, including one I hope was a fountain.

                Other interesting sculptures includes Giambologna's Oceanus.

                Gemmito's The Fisher Boy

                And a bronze cannon decorated with the face of Saint Paul.

                We continued up the stairs to the 2nd floor.

                Here we found some choir books and some paintings, but nothing that blew us away.

                The next room was large and had quite a few sculptures.
                The theme in this room is David. This is the original statue by the famous artist Donatello. Personally I think his statue makes David look like a little girl. It's obviously after the battle with Goliath because you can see he's standing on Goliath's head.

                Verrocchio's David also show's David after the battle has taken place. Out of all the statues of David we've seen, Michelangelo's David really stands out as our favorite.

                We continued downstairs to the final room. Here we saw a copy of the bust of the master himself, Michelangelo.

                We also saw the models Michelangelo used to create Day & Night and Dawn & Dusk on the Medici tombs.

                We saw the finished marble statue by Giambologna celebrating Florence's Victory over Pisa.

                We actually saw the clay model in the Palazzo Vecchio a few days earlier and there's an interesting story behind it. The finished statue wasn't completed in time for the Medici's wedding in 1565 so this clay model was place here lining the hall instead. It wasn't until 1589 that Giambologna finally finished the marble model. The marble statue was moved to the Bargello in 1868 and never returned, so the clay model was put in its place.

                Using our Firenze card, we entered for free and saw the main altar was under construction too. We received a map of the church and saw that quite a few notable Italians were buried here.

                Galileo Galilei, the famous Italian physicist, mathmetician, astronomer and philosopher.

                And the Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer who's work we've been enjoying for the past week here and in Rome, Michelangelo Buonarroti.

                A cenotaph (empty tomb) honoring Dante Aligheri. I haven't read Dante's Inferno, but I hope to get around to it some day.

                We walked towards the back of the church and looked at a few of the old church hymn books.

                In 1966 to Arno river flooded and brought mud and water into the church. This picture is actually the inside of the church.

                Today (Saturday) they were telling people the soonest they could reserve a table would be Monday at 9:30pm. Being #3 on TripAdvisor sure makes for some good business.

                Mine was tasty too. I enjoy pesto and the ravioli was filled with cheese and tasted good.

                For the entree, Theresa ordered the lemon chicken with green beans. Her first bite surprised her and was very sour. Eating around the chicken breast though, it was more mild and good flavor.

                We got some cash from the ATM then headed up to the hotel for the last time.

                Finally we went to our gate and then took a bus over to the plane.

                The flight was uneventful which was nice.

                The room is pretty decent too.

                Even though we've been eating pretty good in Italy, T has been missing her vegetables. T got green beans and then took my lettuce and tomato and made herself a super burger. I don't know how she squished it enough to fit in her mouth, but she did.

                Also check out:
                Joe's Epic Overnight Disneyland Dream Suite Trip Report

                Joe's Epic Tokyo Disneyland Trip Report - 15 days
                Disneyland Candlelight Processional Photos - 2014 (Beau Bridges), 2012 (Kurt Russell), 2012 (Edward James Olmos), 2012 (Dick Van Dyke), 2012 (John Stamos), 2011 (Gary Sinise), 2010 (Tom Skerritt), 2009 (Jon Voight), 2008 (John Stamos)

                Or visit my blog at


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