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Espresso, Art and My Firenze Adventure

I arrived yesterday in Florence. Yay! I’m 3 days early for Sarah Murdoch’s Adventures with Sarah Staycation in Florence tour, 9/05-9/11.

It’s warm here, in the middle 80’s with lows in the 60’s. Pretty much the same in Atlanta right now. Also Florence is not too crowded.

TRAVELING DAY: I arrived at the Atlanta airport 4 hours before my flight leaving at 8:05 pm. Day before Labor Day weekend traffic can be awful. Got through security in 20-30 minutes. Flight to Paris CDG left on time, arriving in CDG at 10:35 am. Then walked from Terminal 2E to 2F, long walk, had to go through security again and then passport control. Got to gate with an hour to spare. This 12:45 pm flight took only an hour and 10 minutes! But the landing made me realize just how fragile we humans are in those metal tubes flying through the air! Because the pilot warned us the landing would be abrupt, I didn’t totally freak out along with everyone else! It felt like we had crashed! Alarming is putting it mildly. I would never fly to Florence again, next time will fly to Rome and then a train to Florence.
A taxi to my hotel was 25 Euros, the driver chose cash when I gave him a choice.

Both flights were Air France smooth with attentive flight crew. Food however was not good and they gave me 4 ounces of water for the 8 hours! I was parched when we landed in Paris CDG. My seat mates were French and tried to capture a picture of the Eiffel Tower, not successful but I was touched by their attempt. Also they gave me explicit directions on how to navigate from Terminal 2E to 2F. The signage at CDG is remarkably clear..
More to follow!

Posted by
3930 posts

Judy, I will be following your posts as we still haven’t made it to Florence. We seem to be going on trips but our list keeps getting longer. Oh well, we’ll have to travel more I guess. Have fun

Posted by
784 posts

Thanks Judy! Great info, I didn't know you have to go through security in CDG transiting to another Schengen destination, great info. I've always taken the train to Florence, but was considering flying in next time for New Years, have changed my mind after reading your post! I just read similar info on Trip Advisor . Eh, travel is stressful enough without adding to it.
Would love to hear more about your Florence Staycation experiences... especially the FOOD!

Posted by
6358 posts

Judy B! So glad your adventure is underway. I can't wait to hear more. I'm betting the tour is much like the old RS "Best of Florence," our first RS tour back in 2009. We loved that tour, and have always thought it and the "Best of Venice" should be resurrected.

Posted by
3961 posts

Judy, thanks for sharing the beginning of your latest adventure with Sarah! I enjoyed your Venice staycation report last year. Looking forward to following you through Florence. It’s been a number of years since we were there. Our experience was flying into Rome & taking the train to Florence. It was a long day but we would do it again. Sarah sure has a full schedule! She is leading an Egypt tour that our friends are taking next month.

Posted by
8802 posts

Bravo. You are there!

In Florence be sure to stroll about the
Sant ‘ Ambrogio Market, and see the Frescos in the Santa Maria del Carmine church.

Posted by
14153 posts

Judy! I'll be following your adventures!

Yikes on the water on the AF flight. Did they not have more in the galley area? I've not flown AF, only Delta but they have extra back there. Still, worth taking a bottle on board with this info!

Posted by
1307 posts

Judy, I will also be following your reports with pleasure.
Sarah has some wonderful itineraries and great guides lined up when she's not leading them herself.
And she and Andrew are a hoot when they post videos together.
Enjoy every minute!

Posted by
2485 posts

Thanks everyone for your interest in my adventures.
Pam, Delta has always on all my flights given us tons of water all through the night. I kept expecting AF to do the same. I dozed off and when awake I thought surely water is coming soon. But nothing. Even Delta’s food is better than AF’s. Oh well.

ARRIVAL DAY The hotel is Hotel Renaissance on Via Della Condotta just around the corner from the Bargello Museum. Excellent location close to the Duomo north of us and not far from the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery south of us. I took a nap, 1-1/2 hours, felt refreshed and ready to explore my neighborhood. Very pleasant and to my surprise not that crowded! I took pictures of interesting buildings and people walking their dogs and babies in strollers. Great people watching. Walked along the street behind my hotel with the Bargello Museum. This is Via Dei Proconsolo. Then smack in the face is the Duomo!! Omg! I’m not sure how it started but I saw two young lively African American girls (to me) and we started talking. Turns out they are from Atlanta too and were here in Europe to celebrate one of the pair’s birthday. They were darling and I asked their itinerary, etc. This is their story: they are going to be here 3 weeks and flew to Paris, spent a few days there, drove to Florence, yes, drove! I asked them did they know how expensive that is. They said yes, now they do. I told them about the RS forum where they can get the best advice. In any case, they are going on to Bologna and go horseback riding, Pisa to check out the tower then onto Rome, drive back to Paris and spend their last 7 days there. We had so much fun taking pictures of each other with the backdrop of the Duomo.

We parted and I wandered into a most exquisite store called Paperone where everything is handmade. Paper bookmarks, notecards and little 3D objects all painted and decorated with the utmost attention to artistic detail. Also there was a large display of ceramic objects all created by a local artist. The store is family owned and has been for 6 generations! I enjoyed my time there.

Then I found a restaurant, Vetreria, a few stores away. Pappardelle with Ragu, red wine and glorious homemade bread. A perfect first meal in Florence. Diners were Italian and 2 families with well behaved children were enjoying their meals. I’m impressed with how Italians include their children in every day activities.

Day 2 to follow.

Posted by
2252 posts

Thanks for taking us along on your adventure, Judy. I’ll be enjoying Florence almost a year from now (I know….) but for me, it’s never too early to start taking notes!

Posted by
2453 posts

I'm curious, is there something specific about flying into Florence that makes it bad? Small airport/small plane?

Posted by
2453 posts

Ah, good to know. My husband really hates landings so I'm going to remember this for next year.

Posted by
985 posts

Yay Judy, so happy you are in Florence! I'm looking forward to your reports about your tour. Have fun!

Posted by
3192 posts

I've landed in Peretola in Florence a number of times, and don't recall it being extra bumpy.
Maybe I was just too focused on being excited to be there!

Posted by
3192 posts

Judy, did you see Florence from the air on approach to the airport?
If so, which side of the plane would it be best to sit on?
Thanks!
I hope you're having a great time!

Posted by
2485 posts

Well, I’m back home, yay! And I’m back to catching up my trip report.

I left off at Day 2:

DAY 2 (Sept 3):
Jet lag had me in its grip and it was raining so I didn’t venture out until just before lunch. I went out with an umbrella and walked down our street and rounded a corner and went down a side street and just wandered, peeking into shops as I went along. Eventually I found an interesting restaurant where American jazz was wafting out the door. This had to be good. I only heard Italian spoken here. I enjoyed a leisurely 2 hour lunch and people watched, Food was good but not exceptional, Taverna Divina Commedia . Still enjoying myself. Went back out into the rain and found a gelato shop, Venchi. It’s a chain but has delicious gelato and amazing chocolate. I bought a few for my hotel room to have on hand.

Eventually the sun came out and I decided to go across the Arno River to the Oltrarno to find the Santo Spirito Church and then walked across the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge). It was so hot and humid, my energy was sapped and I followed the back lanes if they were shady! I was pretty lost by now and didn’t find the church. But I decided my new goal was to find the Mercato Centrale across the River which had been described to me as a food court with a collection of restaurants in a large building near the Piazza San Lorenzo. Well, I found the Piazza but walked through an outdoor market filled with leather goods and clothing but no Mercato Centrale. As it turns out, I had walked right by the building but the entrance is not clearly marked. I found my way back to the hotel. Dinner was a sandwich in my room.

DAY 3 (Sept 4): This was an exciting day. I found the Mercato Centrale and had a delightful lunch, I highly recommend this place. I wandered all the way through and looked at all the offerings, every kind of cuisine was offered. There was even a cooking school, I watched as students prepared meals and the chefs walked around critiquing their techniques. I had a delicious Espresso at the bar. Then I had an Italian pasta dish at another restaurant, something divine with truffle sauce! Not far from here is the Medici Chapels, a chapel Michelangelo designed for the major figures of the powerful Medici family. I bought my ticket at the door. It’s gorgeous and the New Sacristy contains wonderful sculptures by him. Day and Night and Dawn and Dusk are amazing. His Madonna and Child is different from other statues. He may be the most important sculptor of all time! I’m so happy I saw this chapel.
I went back to the hotel and freshened up and headed to the restaurant on Proconsolo I mentioned earlier and ran into my friend who had just arrived from the states so we enjoyed dinner together.

DAY 4 (Sept 5) First day of the Tour: We have free time until our orientation meeting at 4 pm so my friend and I set out to see the Museo di San Marco (we bought our tickets online). We marveled at Fra’ Angelico’s magnificent Renaissance frescoes and paintings, the largest collection anywhere. There’s also a Monastery attached to the Museum and we toured it, a very old place. We found the cell of Savonarola and memorabilia of his writings and life.
We then found the oldest Renaissance square in Florence called the Annunciation Square. We had a delicious lunch on a terrace with a lovely view of the Duomo.at the cafe at the Hospital for the Innocents on this square.
Next will be an account of our first meeting with our guide, Anna Piperato, a PhD in Art History. She’s a wonderful amalgam of energy, fun and knowledge! She was the perfect tour guide, we all just loved her. By the way we had 7 people in our group.

Posted by
6358 posts

I'm loving this. Definitely it's time for us to return to Florence. Fra Angelico's frescoes bring me to tears, every time.

The last time we were in Florence, we also had lunch at Mercato Centrale, and had a wonderful meal. It's well worth visiting.

And when we were in Siena this June, we had the pleasure of having Anna as our private guide for a full day! I'd love to experience Florence with her.

Posted by
2485 posts

Jane,
Anna Piperato is a gifted guide with her seemingly boundless energy and sense of fun. Plus, I felt I had learned so much about Renaissance art from her which I love anyway. Having learned more makes me want to read more about it.

My personal life has become very busy at the moment but I will continue posting on my trip soon.

Jane, thanks for checking on me.

Posted by
6358 posts

Judy B, you're welcome. It's not like you to abandon a trip report, so I was concerned.

Posted by
784 posts

Judy B, thanks very much for your trip report. Especially your wanderings, what a pleasure. Have added Anna Piperato to my list of contacts for a Siena tour sometime in the future. Thanks again!