Florence Day 3


When we realized we tackled nearly every major hotspot in Florence by the end of our second night, we decided to spend half our day in Bologna during our last day in Tuscany. I’ll get to Bologna in another post, but first let me show you what we did in Florence during the morning before our train and at night when we returned.

Santa Croce, which houses the tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli.

Look at those skinny buildings!

Santa Maria Novella

Piazza della Repubblica

We passed this window display every night on our way to our hotel and I still cannot figure out what is on her head.

A nighttime visit to the Duomo to say goodbye and eat some yummy gelato (nutella-banana in case you're curious).

Peace out, Florence!

Florence Day 2


Art, art, art! Our second day in Florence was based around our artsy sides – we tackled both the Uffizi and Accademia galleries in one day. Go team!

Mother and I awoke at the crack of dawn to be on line early at the Uffizi. We got there at 8:10am – just five minutes before the gallery opened, yet we still had to wait another hour to go in. But it was well worth the wait. The Uffizi Gallery is one of the oldest and most famous art museums in the Western world, or so says Wikipedia. While pictures were not allowed in the gallery, I did manage to sneak of few of the corridors lined with statues.

The courtyard in the Uffizi.

A peek inside the Uffizi.

Look at that beautiful ceiling!

While I didn’t get to snap any photos of the impressive art, I will give you some googled images of my favorite pieces as a sample of what we saw.

From there, the mother and I trekked over to Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s picturesque bridge lined with jewelry shops. While the merchandise was a little out of our price range it was still fun to walk through.

Ponte Vecchio

Crossing the bridge led us to Pitti Palace where we entered the Biboli Gardens, one of my favorite parts of Florence. The views from the tops of the hills in the gardens were spectacular and it was very calming to be in a green quiet space again.

Fountain near the entrance of the Biboli Gardens.

Pattie and I pose in front of and successfully block Pitti Palace. I credit the lack of palace in the background to the grumpy teen who took our picture.

Gardens at the top of the hill/mountain.

Perfect view

And with every beautiful view comes a weird statue.

Lucky for us it was free museum night on our second night in Florence, so we were able to visit the Accademia for free! It’s always great to see amazing art, but to see it for free is an entirely different experience. And we saw David. That’s right, Michelangelo’s David – the massive 17 feet tall and more than 12,000 pound sculpture designed to take your breath away.

There he is!

In addition the beautiful statue of David, I was also blown away by Italy’s humorous sculptures. Take a look at all the weird faces I found:

Something smelly?

Florence Day 1


Florence was without doubt my favorite stop in our Italian adventure. We were in Florence for two and a half days and did not waste a single second. Our hotel was only a 15 minute walk from the Duomo, the aesthetic and geographical centerpiece of Florence. Duomo is actually a generic Italian term for a cathedral; Florence’s cathedral is formally known as Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Its construction began in the late 1200s and was completed by 1436. This is one old, but beautiful, structure.

Isn't she a beauty?

The entrance to the Duomo and the campanile (bell tower) off to the side.

Look at the beautiful green and pink colors!

The inside of the Duomo's dome.

While we were inside the Duomo, a recording went off roughly every five minutes reminding guests to be quiet. SILENCE! Listen to the recording here.

Then I decided to climb the campanile rather than the Duomo’s dome so I could look down on the cathedral from above. More than 400 steps later, I reached the top.

The view of the Duomo from atop the campanile.

Overlooking Florence.

Then we visited the Babistry, a minor basilica built between 1059 and 1128.

The golden dome inside the Babistry.

Afterwards, Pattie and I meandered over to the San Lorenzo market, which is filled with leather belts, bags and wallets and scarves galore! After browsing through the market for a while and filling our empty tummies with dinner, we settled back into our hotel where I went on a successful mosquito-killing rampage after Pattie was bit. With the blood-sucking critter terminated, we slept and prepped ourselves for a busy second day in Florence.



After a long journey from London – including transportation via Tube, bus, plane and boat – Pattie and I finally arrived at our hotel on the island of Lido in Venice. We were both exhausted after our travels, so we opted to sleep early and wake up bright-eyed for the next morning. Unfortunately, I forgot to change the time setting on my phone (Italy is one hour ahead of London), so we wound up waking up an hour later than anticipated.

But that was not a problem because after sampling the breakfast buffet (or in my case, eating one of everything), we hopped a waterbus to the main part of Venice to begin a day of touring.

When we first set foot in Venice – on our wobbly sea legs – we were overwhelmed by the beauty of everything. The buildings are perfect muted shades of yellow, pink and orange and are complimented well by the foamy blue-green water. We made our way along the water passing by several smaller water channels before we made it into Piazza San Marco, which houses several prominent Venetian attractions including Doge’s Palace, San Marco Basilica and campanile (a bell tower).

The campanile - good thing there was an elevator to the top!

The view from the top of the bell tower.

Overlooking Piazza San Marco.

Venice also has amazing tourist shopping. Granted, every booth looks the same, but at least the gifts look good. Everyone sells masks, glass, Pinnochio look-alikes and the usual trinkets.

Future Halloween costume perhaps?

Rialto Bridge is lined with shops designed for tourists like us.

Murano, a Venetian island, is known for its glassblowing.

Aside from the shopping and typical tourist attractions, the mother and I enjoyed wandering the various side streets of Venice the most. We got lost several times, but this was probably a good thing in the long run. We were able to cross countless bridges, gawk at gondolas passing by and soak in the adorable quality of the city. What makes this part of Venice so unique is its lack of cars. There are no road, only pedestrian pathways and the only form of transportation is via water. Despite the crowded tourist feel, once we got to the side streets of the city it was very relaxing not having to worry about crossing streets.

Then, after several hours of sight seeing, Pattie and I decided to call it a day and head back to Lido to relax in our beachy hotel. We left Venice just as the sun was starting to set, so we got to see some beautiful images of Venice from our waterbus:

Eating My Way Through Italy


Pasta, pizza, gelato and the occasional apple rounded out my diet through Italy. Can’t say it was a week of healthy eating choices, but I don’t really care because I was well fed and happy the entire time.

Prepare to hear your tummy rumble.

Let’s start with the gelato…

One of each please!

Nutella and banana - my personal favorite flavor combination





Pistachio gelato in front of the Trevi Fountain

And the pizza!

Spinach, tomato and feta

Individual salami pizza

Now on to the dinners….


Pumpkin ravioli with butter and sage

The mushy insides of the scrumptious pumpkin ravioli

Grilled sole

Gnocchi al pesto

Risotto with cheese and zucchini

Ravioli stuffed with cheese and spinach in melted butter, sage and parmasen cheese

Gnocchi with tomato sauces, basil and parmesan cheese

The Signs of Italy


Rather than start my round of many posts from my trip through Italy with pictures of cities, I’m going to begin with some rather amusing signs we encountered. From Venice to Florence to Rome, these Italians certainly know how to make Pattie and I laugh.

No black-handed bandits allowed!

No black-handed bandits allowed!

Mind the gap.

A pile of daschunds?

Inspector Gadget crossing with child.

Again with the daschunds!

This is very representative of the Roman way of crossing streets: RUN if you hope to make it to the other side alive.

Stairs might be slippery, and this is what happens when you fall.

Don't get your bum stuck in the metro doors

Abbey Road


I was going to be mildly cliche and start this post with some insightful Beatles lyrics, but the first song to pop into my head was not-so-insightful-deep-or-meaningful “Twist and Shout.” So here you go:

Well, shake it up, baby, now, (shake it up, baby)
Twist and shout. (twist and shout)
Cmon cmon, cmon, cmon, baby, now, (come on baby)
Come on and work it on out. (work it on out)

You would think taking the quintessential Beatles picture at Abbey Road would be fun, easy and good time all around, right? Wrong, it is not easy. Little do you know that Abbey Road is at the intersection of three very busy roads. There are no stop signs or traffic lights, and while cars are required to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, very few do because they are annoyed by all the tourists. But alas, we crossed that path many times to get the picture right – or at least as close to right as we could.

Almost like the real thing!

As we departed Abbey Road, we stumbled across this witty road sign…

The Wizards of Waverly Place - you know the Disney show.