Feeling fine in Florence.

It doesn't get much more beautiful than this.

It doesn't get much more beautiful than this.

In our moving journey to Valencia, we had a week where we needed to be out of the apartment we're renting from friends. We looked into other beach towns just south of Valencia, but thought no, we'll be at the beach all summer. And then it dawned on us: Florence. 

I studied in Slovakia in college and that same semester, my best friend Lindsay studied in Florence. Over spring break, we met up in this gorgeous Italian city; I still remember meeting her for breakfast in a little bar the first day and pinching myself because I was with my best friend in Italy! We ate gelato, went to a jazz club, and drank a glass of wine on her balcony that overlooked the Arno River (and I was probably wondering at the moment why I studied in Slovakia...). Those memories have fondly remained with me these past 9 years, and I've hoped that at some point John and I would be able to venture to this city that was so beautiful, romantic, and steeped in history, art, and culture. And the food isn't bad, either.

So we got a flight to Rome (much cheaper that way, now that we're in Valencia), spent a night there on both ends of the trip, and took the hour and a half train ride through the Tuscan countryside to Florence. Beauty abounds in Italy, no matter where you look.

Once in Florence, we checked into our hotel which was conveniently located near everything. The down side was that our room was directly across from the reception desk. Not ideal, especially in the morning when I was hoping to snooze 30 more minutes but everyone else was checking out, but we were comfortable and thankful to be so well situated in the city. No public transportation needed!

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore was at the end of our street. We stood in line one morning to walk through the cathedral which was free!

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore was at the end of our street. We stood in line one morning to walk through the cathedral which was free!

I loved this little tribute to E.M. Forster, since part of the book (or all of it?) A Room With A View takes place in Florence. 

I loved this little tribute to E.M. Forster, since part of the book (or all of it?) A Room With A View takes place in Florence. 

The Piazza della Signoria--one of my favorite spots to sit and people watch, listen to street musicians, or catch a free outdoor concert at night (we heard a German youth orchestra here one night that was very good).

The Piazza della Signoria--one of my favorite spots to sit and people watch, listen to street musicians, or catch a free outdoor concert at night (we heard a German youth orchestra here one night that was very good).

Il Mercato Centrale is a great place to stop for lunch, a snack, a drink, or dinner. Or all four! Lots of vendors, decent prices, and plenteous seating. We went twice and enjoyed wandering the stalls downstairs before grabbing something to eat upstairs.

Il Mercato Centrale is a great place to stop for lunch, a snack, a drink, or dinner. Or all four! Lots of vendors, decent prices, and plenteous seating. We went twice and enjoyed wandering the stalls downstairs before grabbing something to eat upstairs.

You can find good food so, so many places in Florence (although there are plenty of tourist traps, too), but we can recommend three really good spots to get a meal in Florence from our experience. Try Il Gatto e la Volpe (Via Ghibellina, 151/r), recommended to us by a friend in Spain who lived in Florence. The food is very reasonably priced, there's a wide variety to choose from and they give big portions, and the wait staff is very friendly and helpful. The buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad is wonderful. It's a big restaurant and you don't need a reservation. A cool place especially at night is Trattoria ZáZá in Piazza del Mercato Centrale, 26/r, recommended to us by the same friend. Stop by earlier in the day to make reservations because they fill up quickly. The outdoor terrace with its colorful hanging lightbulbs gives the place a cool vibe. And finally, a place you should not miss is Signorvino, Via de Bardi, 46/r. We found this one while walking around and looking for a spot to enjoy views of the Ponte Vecchio (that pretty bridge in the picture below) while enjoying a beverage. Signorvino is a wine store meats dining experience with views that are hard to beat. We went three times, so I can say with certainty that this is a restaurant worth visiting! Our last night, we enjoyed a bottle of Chianti Classico wine, dinner (even the simplest spaghetti with tomato sauce was fabulous) and dessert--that cheesecake was possibly the best thing I've ever tasted. No exaggeration. Call ahead or stop by at least a day ahead to make reservations for the terrace at night, because they book up fast!

You get a perfect view of the Uffizi Gallery when you eat at Signorvino.

You get a perfect view of the Uffizi Gallery when you eat at Signorvino.

Goodbye, Florence. I hope we meet again!

Goodbye, Florence. I hope we meet again!

Coming soon: Wine Tasting in Tuscany and an update on the Whole30 life.