Category Archives: Travel

5 Days in Italy – Day 5

Day 2 Florence

Today with snacks in hand from the market you head across the river to the Pitti Palace for more relics and art. This great palace has been home to many of Florence’s great families and still boasts a beautiful and well maintained façade!

After the Pitti Palace head west to see Piazza Santo Spirito before heading back over the river toward the pig market otherwise known as Mercato Nuovo. Locals call this market Il Porcellino (little pig) because of the boar statue that stands at the end of the market. This market, like San Lorenzo Market is frequented by both locals and tourists alike and offers leather goods, jewelry, scarves, souvenirs and more. Take a gander about and start to consider how much room you have in your suitcase and whether you may need to buy an extra! 

As promised I am taking it easy on you in Florence. I have hit the top ten attractions in Florence and then some so now…shop! Shop until you can carry no more! Shop at the pig market, San Lorenzo Market, Santa Croce, the Ponte Vecchio and Mercato Centrale. For great shoes check out the shops at the east end of San Lorenzo Market and piazza! Some of the best places are in basements and around small alley corners. Never fear, just venture in – the shop owners are always happy to great and help tourists and locals alike!

Once you have shopped ‘til you dropped – if you have extra time you can always go back and explore some of the bigger attractions you feel you may have been rushed through before!

Food in Florence – This is the best food in Italy I swear!!! I prescribe gelato twice daily at minimum for positive mood enhancement and sugary sweet energy!

One restaurant (Il trattoria) in particular is off of Piazza della Signoria and near the Ponte Vecchio. On your way to the Ponte Vecchio find the B&B della Signoria (one street in), go down that street/alley (it will seem like nothing is there- keep going) you will see the small trattoria. Make reservations around lunch for dinner (or you won’t get in) this is the best restaurant and has amazing ravioli di noci! 

Okay – off you go, have entirely too much fun!

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5 Days in Italy – Day 4

Florence Day 1:

Okay, here’s the scoop, Florence is a lot smaller than Rome in terms of mileage so you can
literally see all the major sites on a quick walk about in a single day. HOWEVER, if you really want to see things in depth it is going to take a bit longer! Because I know shopping is a must I am leaving Florence a little more open than Rome (because the shopping is awesome here!) so….here goes.

Once again start off the day with a good hearty breakfast so you can really go, go, go.
First on the tour today is the Uffizi Gallery! Because this books up so quickly, and they only
allow a set number of patrons in at a time, jump online before you head to Italy and pre-book your tickets for the Uffizi and Academia. Then all you have to do is go to customer service and pick up tickets for your respective time slots!

The Uffizi Gallery is a show case of great Italian art and Florentine patrons. Although many
of the paintings and sculptures are portraits and busts this is definitely a must! The detailing in some of the portraits is so lifelike you can almost feel the fur collars and the beaded tapestries in the backgrounds!

After your tour through the gallery take your time wondering through the courtyard and then through the attached Piazza Signoria to admire the many statues they have on display as well as the many pieces of art the locals have for sale!

Next stop is across town to Academia to see the David. Although he towers above you, his life like features and the way the veining in the marble seem to somehow line up with where real veins and arteries would be will truly amaze! Walk around and get a good look from every angle before heading into the hall of busts and then back out onto the streets of Florence.

With the two major museums under your belt head east toward Piazza Santa Croce for lunch and shopping. This area has some of the most lovely leather purses and coats of all fashions and sizes! While there don’t forget to take a stroll through the church as well before heading off for the next adventure.

After lunch head back west along the Arno river toward the Ponte Vecchio (the bridge of gold) to see the shops before they close for the day. Also take the opportunity to admire the other goods being offered by street vendors along either side of the bridge. BUT don’t get your bags too full yet, you haven’t been to San Lorenzo or the Pig Market/The Straw Market (which has anything but live stock :- ) !

Next we head North back through the city to see the Duomo. Wander in through the main doors and admire the various shades of marble and the stunning carved doors as you do so! Once inside light a candle and then walk through this vast space to admire the grandeur of the frescos – especially those at the top of the dome! Once again don’t forget to look down. The floor of this beauty is just as impressive as the walls!

If you dare take the stairs up to the top of the dome to get a closer look at the fresco and then wander outside to get a striking view of the whole city below you. From here you can see Santa Croce, the Uffizi, Pitti Palace, etc. Although it is high up – I highly recommend this!!!!!

Then wonder back out of the Duomo and take a tour through the bell tower and baptistery. The gift shops here have some fun things to look at and keep in mind if you can’t find them from a street vendor for less!

Back out on the street head north toward the San Lorenzo Market. If the shop vendors are still out feel free to take your time wondering from canopy to canopy, but don’t wait too long to head inside to the food market for some dinner at the Spagittarian. This amazing market has meats, cheeses, fruits, wines, olive oil, lemon cello, and ready to eat meals! It’s a great time to grab snacks for tomorrow too!

Now wander back through the streets, bellies full and admire the city at night as you find your way back to your hotel for some sleep.

 

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5 Days in Italy – Day 2-3

Day 2 Rome:

Eat another full breakfast before starting out! Your feet may be sore but we still have much ahead of us so throw on your walking shoes and lets get started.

Start out the day early in Saint Peter’s square in Vatican City. Early in the morning the shops lining the street leading up to this massive historical site will be closed, but don’t fear they’ll be long open when you head back out.

Take your time walking around the square before heading into the basilica. Many of the
fountains, pillars, saints statues, and cement inlays beneath your feet were commissioned and completed during the reign of Pope Sisstius. This was during Michelangelo’s time!

Then find your way up to the entrance and just before entering take notice of the Swiss guards still wearing their original uniforms designed back in the day. But don’t try to get a laugh out of them, like the beefeaters of England they aren’t allowed to move or talk with civilians. As you wander through the inside of the basilica you will see famous works of art completed by Michelangelo, Bernini, Bramante, Raphael and many more!

After you have taken it all in, walk back outside and around the exterior of Vatican City to find the entrance to the Vatican Museum. To get the most out of this one see if there are any tours available. The tours are about 2 hours and provide escort into the most prominent rooms including the Sistine chapel. If there aren’t any tours available, or the cost is too high in the high tourist season get a general entrance pass and find your way through the museum on your own. Follow the hall of tapestries and the hall of maps to the Sistine Chapel. Once inside the chapel, marvel at how small it actually is and then crane your head back to get a good glimpse at the famous ceiling! There may be a large crowd but don’t let others push and prod you out until you have seen all you wish to see! Once you have seen your fill, or your neck is killing you, wander back out and admire further frescos on the walls leading out of the museum.

Back on the streets of Rome find a local pizza bar on your way toward the river. These pizza vendors by the Vatican are some of the best in Rome. Enjoy a quick lunch of your favorite slice and if needed, grab an extra piece to go as you head toward the Tiber to walk along the edge of the river on your way toward the bridge of angels and Castel Sant’Angelo. This site used to be a strong hold for Pope’s and rulers of Rome, there is even an underground passage leading from Vatican City to the castle. It is reference in the famous book Angels and Demons and clips of it are actually shown in the film!

Now head across the bridge of angels toward the center of Rome but fall short and head north toward Piazza del Popolo. Enjoy the recently refurbished fountains, shops and vendors, grab a gelato and then at your leisure head back south toward the hotel and the main shops of Rome past the Spanish steps and the Trevi Fountain (this one is good to catch a glimpse of at night as well when it is lit up!) Shop, eat, and wander until your feet may fall off and then call it a night and get ready for Florence (Firenze)!

There is so much more to do in Rome besides what I have here, but with only two days this is a pretty comprehensive look at the city and most of its major sites. That said, if you come across any other sites you really want to see, or have heard about that you feel you just can’t miss, add them to the mix how ever you see fit! (Other potential sites include Villa Borghese, Circo Massimo, Sant’ Giovanni in Laterno, Teatro Marcello, etc)

Day 3 – Travel Day

Take the train from Rome to Firenze. You may need a quick translation from Italian to English to find your train…but if you stick to your ticket, you’ll be sure to arrive in Firenze without worry.

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5 Days in Italy – Day 1

I originally compiled this itinerary for 2 of my sisters who were taking a summer tour through my 2 favorite cities in Italy…Rome and Florence. They only had time for 2 days in each and so the itinerary is set up accordingly. It can be modified to suit greater travel time, but also affords a quick and fairly comprehensive view of both cities in a pinch.

 

Day 1 Rome:

 Get an early start and a hearty breakfast… it’s going to be a long day!

Start the day off with a tour of the Colosseo. Find the entrance line and if the line is long take in the outer structure first, if the line is short get in and through the doors. Once inside walk up the first set of steps to the main level and admire what it would have been to be a spectator in this great stadium. Next take a close look at the maze of walls you can see through the old colosseo floor. These were the rooms where gladiators and performers were held during the games. These rooms connect to a vast underground tunnel system that connected the training grounds to the colosseo back in the day and they are currently uncovering more and more of these passages!

 

 After you have had your fill of site seeing and picture taking at the colosseo exit and head
immediately north toward the Spanish steps bypassing the forum. (We’ll come back to it at the end of the day when it is cooler!)

 From the top of the Spanish steps admire the city and piazza de Spagna below. Then take some time to shop the small vendor’s set up at the top with catholic medals, purses, paintings, jewelry and more. Then walk down the steps and have lunch and gelato in one of the small café’s at the bottom of the steps before heading off toward Palazzo Barberini. Just as with all palazzo’s in Rome Baberini holds sculptures and art work from famous artists from centuries ago, but don’t dawdle too long we’re off to see the Trevi Fountain.

 From the Trevi Fountain take pictures and oogle at other tourists as you all sit and stare in amazement at these magnificent, centuries old statues. Then turn around and admire the shops in the streets surrounding this square with designer labels and window displays to amaze.

 Next we stay a course headed east to the Pantheon. This famous site has been host to a multitude of religions and face lifts. Wander around the outside of the building and notice the different layers from these many transformations. Once inside follow the crowd around the inner circle admiring the statues and plaques with explanations of the current and past art displays, but don’t forget to look above your head or below your feet for the floor and ceiling of this great wonder hold just as much history as the walls!

 Only a few a few more streets east you’ll run into the Piazza Novona to admire the fountains of Bernini, the site of the original Roman university, and relics/bones of a few well known saints. While you’re here find a café with outside seating and enjoy a leisurely dinner and perhaps a glass of red wine before heading off for today’s final destination.

 

Once you are full and looking toward the cooler temperatures of the evening head back toward the Roman Forum and walk through the old streets of Caesar’s Rome. Imagine the chariots racing along the thinly cobbled streets and the mischievous behaviors at the bath houses.

 Now climb the steps out and wander back to the hotel for a good nights sleep!

 

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