Even with the best intentions to learn Italian before you get to Florence, it’s hard to actually get a feel for realistically using the language in everyday situations. That’s why it can be helpful to combine an Italian lesson with a walking tour.
Usually, when you consider day trip options, you look at places that are close to your home base. With Italy’s high-speed rail system, however, you can branch out a bit further – such as taking a day trip to Venice from Florence.
There are so many reasons to love Florence, from its world famous art to its delicious food, and after awhile if you need a break from all that “city” you can easily get into the Tuscan countryside. To really get a sense of the big picture of Tuscany, however, you’ll need to take the air to see Tuscany from above.
Sometimes going on a trip to Italy means looking at the past through the lens of the present – gazing over Roman ruins and trying to imagine what life was like so many centuries ago. And sometimes you can pretend you’re back in time, in a small way and for a short while, letting your imagination come to life. That’s just what you can do at a Renaissance court banquet in Florence.
Most of us know that when we visit Florence, one must-see is Michelangelo’s exquisite “David” in the Accademia Gallery. What many people don’t realize is that the Accademia holds other treasures, as well. In other words, don’t plan to just make a beeline for David and then back out again. Here are some of the reasons to stop and look around awhile longer.
If you’re walking along Florence’s pedestrian-only Via Calzaiouli, peering into shops and anticipating your arrival at a big museum, you could easily miss the Orsanmichele Church. You’d probably see the exterior niches decorated with sculptures, but since you won’t find a door on the main walkway you’d probably snap a photo and keep walking. Turn the corner onto Via Arte della Lana, however, and you can go inside a church with a fascinating history.
Italy has many famous opera houses – La Scala in Milan, La Fenice in Venice – but if you’re in Florence the theater to seek out is the Teatro della Pergola. Some argue it’s Italy’s oldest opera house.
Pizza, wine, and gelato are the holy trinity of Italian foods. While in Florence we had an evening filled with the area’s finest foods. Our evening starts with a tasting and knowledge about one of the many things that make the region of Tuscany famous: the Sangiovese grape. Since before mid-evil times grapes have been grown in the Tuscany region just outside Florence. Over the centuries the wine makers have perfected their craft and produce some of the finest wines in the world. If you have ever tried a true Chianti it comes from this specify part of Italy. We learned about the process of making the wine and what characteristics that make it unique. A lesson in how to taste wine follows the history of the grape and region.
The piazza in Florence to which most of us flock is the Piazza della Signoria. It’s an excellent spot for people-watching, it’s the original home of Michelangelo’s David (and still has a copy of the statue), and it’s right next to the Uffizi Gallery. But for another look at Florence’s history, head to the Piazza della Repubblica.
Florence is easily one of the best cities in Italy in which to eat gelato, and there’s no shortage of gelato shops to choose from. Perhaps the most famous gelatera in Florence – if not all of Italy – is Vivoli.