Our first day we wandered the city, entering any of the cathedrals or churches that caught our eye. We saw the Duomo,
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...