Thursday, May 19, 2011


I was already mesmerized by Rome and was slightly reluctant to leave, but my mom and I took a train to Florence. We spent our last day in Rome running around the city, trying to see the last bit of monuments we hadn't seen yet, so I was pretty exhausted for the train ride.  In between mini power naps and reading a few pages of the Italian Vogue I picked up in the train station, I caught the most beautiful glimpses of Tuscan countryside, making me more excited for our next destination.
Our first day we wandered the city, entering any of the cathedrals or churches that caught our eye.  We saw the Duomo,
whose dome was designed by famed architect Brunelleschi,
 and whose Gates of Paradise (doors to the baptistry) by Ghiberti are considered by some to have spearheaded the Renaissance.  These ones are actually a reproduction.  The real ones are housed in a museum.
Santa Croce
The fresco of the life of St Francis painted by Giotto. Although definitely painted by Giotto, there is much controversy about many other works believed to be by Giotto. Few of his works were ever signed, so some of the works attributed to him could actually have been done by his workshop instead.

We also perused the many markets and vendors. 

Florence is well known for its leather goods, and the bags in the markets are very very cheap. There were many Hermes lookalikes for sale, in a crayola crayon box variety of colors. My mom bought a small yellow crossbody and a brown bohemian bag, but nothing really caught my eye.

So much nicer than the strip malls we see back home
A darling little tuscan pottery shop
Of course we also paid a trip to the Uffizi, home to works by Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo, Caravaggio, Giotto, Cimabue, and one of the most reproduced images in art - Botticelli's Birth of Venus. Some of the statues outside the museum:


Giotto, who looks a little bit like a stereotypical Italian assassin...

We decided to do a one day guided bus tour of Tuscany. We started the morning in Sienna, enjoyed a wine tour and lunch at a family vineyard, visited a darling medieval town called San Gimignano, and finished the day in Pisa.  
Palazzo Pubblico in Sienna. Every year in July this city area is turned into a ring for a horse race.  Ten of the city's seventeen sections enters a horse in the race, and the winning horse brings unbelievable pride to its section and crazy celebrations ensue.
The view from the vineyard.  In the distance you'll see San Gimignano, with only a few of its original towers remaining.

This place had the best gelato, in such unique flavors! My mom had gorgonzola, but I chose to be boring and stayed with hazelnut.  They also had limoncello, rosemary, balsamic cream, pine nut, and rice. If you're ever in San Gimignano, you HAVE to get a cone from here!

And of course we saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It reminds me of one of the crazy cakes you'd see in the cake competitions on the Food Network.

And some of my other favorite pictures from my trip

Overall I liked that Florence was calmer than Rome.  There were fewer tourists and people just seemed to enjoy a much mellower way of life.  Women shopped in the afternoon at Maxmara and then wore their beautiful lace maxi dresses to dinner later that night. The streets were narrower, so the added shade made it a little cooler and less humid. And of course the addition of being in wine country made for easy access to delicious libations. I may have gotten a teensy bit overly woozy with my mother on our wine tour... 



  1. I love love love Firenze! Last time I was there I was with my mom, aunts, uncles nad cousins...such fun! Never been to Pisa, next on my Italian list. xoxo

  2. What gorgeous picutres! I want to study abroad in Rome SO badly! I'm still trying to figure out if I can do it with my major/minor, though! You're making me want to hop on a plane and go right now!

  3. Aw, CanadianPrep, thanks for noticing that picture on my blog!! I melt a little inside each time I see it - the eyelashes, the toes, the stance, OMG. I love that you felt it, too, while looking at that photo :) .

    Now, I'm off to melt into the Roman culture via your post!

  4. meant *Florence*, not Rome!!

    That Duomo always reminds me of a crayon drawing. Certain pictures of it just look like they were drawn with crayon. It's so much more gorgeous from this angle than I've seen before.

    Ok, I was right, I died a little looking at these. I may actually have to brave that plane ride some day.

    And Tuscany, oh my. My favorite movie in the world is Under The Tuscan Sun. Oh, and hazelnut is so not boring - my favorite is hazelnut and chocolate - makes a nutella gelatto ;) !

    Love hearing that Florence is calmer than Rome. Brando wants to do Rome, but I have no desire. Going to Florence after could be my compromise!

  5. Sienna! I loved Sienna!