Christmas in Italy: Florence

Route: 5 nights/Rome, 7 nights/Florence (day trip to Pisa, Volterra, Chianti), 5 nights/Venice, Munich via layover. Christmas in Florence. I traveled with my boyfriend and two nieces (25, 15). *** Highlights: Rented a trendy loft apartment on Borgo Pinti, Mercato Centrale, Piazza San Lorenzo (best apple strudel. ever.), Florence Town Cooking Class (loved it! We've made the recipes and used our new skills here at home), David at the Accademia (used RS audio guide), Piazzale Michelangelo at 9AM (it's as inspiring as I imagined), Basilica di San Miniato al Monte (so spiritual, I was moved to tears), Uffizi Gallery (very busy, getting prepaid tickets is a bit confusing, all worth it, use the RS audio), St Marks Church Opera (affordable, beautiful church, warm cast). Day trip to Pisa (stay near the tower, not much else to see outside of that area). ***
Best Moment Ever: We avoided the 60 person wine tours and arranged with the apt property owner to have a private wine tour in Chianti (winery owner was friends of hers). Tour was excellent! We had a very impressive tour with tasting of cheese, meats, and several wines. We then went to a farm/winery/B&B (also friends of hers). Husband and wife were genuinely wonderful. They prepared a typical Tuscan lunch with ingredients from their farm. This day really inspired us to eat healthier and seek a simple yet fulfilling lifestyle. I can't say enough about our Tuscan experience. 15 euro per person per tour, excellent deal.

Posted by donna
roswell, ga, usa
1013 posts

Would you give details on the Apartment? Contacts for the vineyard tour? Great report, and am looking forward to more detailed info!

Posted by Marlene
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
5 posts

The apartment and the owner were very lovely. Paola met us there and went through the little tricks of appliances and how to pull out the sofa sleeper. She also spent some time with us to let us know about the culture, the best local restaurants, and her family life. She was very flexible about the payments. She even arranged a loval driver to pick us up, Giseppe. He was so funny! It was like a fun scene from a movie being in the car with him hearing about his love for Roma and his encounters with Americans. The apartment was an attic apartment with a cute view. Here is the link where I had found it: homeaway.com The listing #3006256 on Homeaway. Here is description: One of the three tiny streets leading to the marvelous Trevi Fountain which is exactly 20 steps away from the apartment. The apartment is located on the 4th floor - top floor of a very well maintained building which has a modern elevator. Both the small balconies in the lounge and in the bathroom and the window in the bedroom face in a inner courtyard offering a stunning view of the rooftops of the Trevi Fountain neighborhood and the Quirinale hill. The area is pedestrian. Taxis are the only vehicles authorized to access the area.It's a very safe locale, there are police patrols 24 hours a day due to the fact that there are government offices and also the Parliament just around the corner. You will be in the very heart of downtown Rome. If you look at the map, you will see all the main tourist attractions are at walking distance. The apartment is conveniently located one block from both the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. Piazza Navona and Campo de Fiori are a 10 minute walk as well. A 15 minute walk will take you to the Colosseum through the Forums, or towards the romantic river Tiber and the vibrant Trastevere area.

Posted by Marlene
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
5 posts

I'm sorry! I responded to the Rome post and not the Firenze post. The apartment in Florence is listing #801585 on the Homeaway site. We just loved the style. Francesca is a very caring and flexible property owner. I inquired with her if she knew of a person with a car who would be willing to take 4 Americans to a winery and perhaps, a drive through the country. I think I offered her 150 EU which is low compared to the 230 EU that a large group tour would have charged. Her friend who works at a univeristy in Florence with American students, took us to San Michele a Torri Winery where we had a private tour of the wine making process and the history of the winery. The staff member was from Brazil and she was so welcoming. Her passion for wine and organic food was contagious. She charged 15 EU per person for the tour and tasting, amazing for how meaningful it was. The second stop on the tour was La Tinaia, which is a farm and B&B in the Tuscan countryside run by a husband and wife team that just warmed our American souls. Their kithen looked like one in movie or on the cover of the home magazines. The webiste is: www.latinaia.it The format and rate was the same as above, the lunch was more substantial. We stuffed ourselves. If you contact Francesca and inquire about the apartment, you can also inquire about the tour. The apartment looks exactly as the photos, very organized and comfortable. Visit the local market a few blocks away. I found designer Italian scarves that were second hand, but only 5 EU each. Much better gift than those made in China. Happy traveling :)

Posted by donna
roswell, ga, usa
1013 posts

Many, many thanks! Printed it out for my next Florence/Rome trip!!

Posted by Melissa
Long Island, New York
45 posts

Did the Florence appartment have a elevator? What Floor was it on? Did it also have a washer? Thanks for any info we are just starting to plan our trip!

Posted by Marlene
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
5 posts

No, the Florence apartment did not have an elevator. It was two flights up a dark stairwell. The loft bedroom was also up a winding staircase that was quite narrow. There was not a washer in this apartment. We took the clothes to a laundry facility about 5 blocks away. We also just hand washed the clothes and hung them to dry on the towel warmer. The wifi worked well and the street was quiet. The kitchen is well appointed. Francesca will show you how to make coffee with the Italian coffee maker. Be sure to look into the cooking class. It was so wonderful!