Ah, Firenze: Chrismastime in Florence

December 16, 2009
Day 1: On the road and Florence by night

With our sleeping bags, extra blankets, 2-person tent, and other camping gear (plus one small duffel bag for clothes) packed in our little Citroën, we hit the road at around 8 am hoping to get into Florence by early afternoon. It was definitely a long drive, but munching on these homemade cookies from my Bible Study's cookie exchange helped pass the time!

Knowing that it would be too cold to camp in Florence, we booked a cheap B&B online before leaving home. Our main concern was finding a place with free parking (since we feared crazy prices in the mainly pedestrian city-center of Florence), so we booked a place that was 900m outside of the city walls on the Oltrarno side of town. Although buses are cheap, we opted to walk into the city each night we were there. (During our two nights in Florence, we only got to see the city after dark because we booked a last minute guided tour of the Ducati museum in Bologna, which took up our daylight hours on Day 2 -- more on that tomorrow.)

What to See and Do: If ever you are in Florence around Christmastime, it's fun to see the city's take on the Christmas market by visiting the one in Piazza Santa Croce. Just as we were trying to escape German-influenced everything, we found ourselves in the midst of stand after stand of Glühwein, woolly slippers, and sausages with a few Italian goods sprinkled in for good measure.

During a previous visit to Florence two years ago, we visited my favorite museum the Uffizi. This time around, we just walked around and enjoyed all the lights and excitement of the season. One museum I wish we had visited was the Bargello, which I highly recommend.

If you are into unique design and decor shops, I suggest you explore both Via de' Serragli and Via Romana stemming from Piazzale di Porta Romana. Coming down the hill from our B&B, these roads lead us past Palazzo Pitti to the Ponte Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria.

Piazza della Repubblica

Piazza della Signoria with the Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi in view


Rubbing Il Porcellino for good luck...

Where to Eat: Oh, there is a story with this one. I'll always have a special place in my heart for Florence. I can't say the name without sighing. Unlike my return visits to Manhattan in which I no longer recognize a thing, every time I go back to Florence I feel like I never left. It's been nine years since I studied there for a semester while a sophomore at NYU (they have their own campus up in the hills called Villa La Pietra -- amazing). And believe it or not, the trattoria located immediately next door to my former apartment building is still alive and kicking. Although the fixed-price menu including a primo, secondo, and contorno is no longer 15,000 lire (approximately $7.50), at 12 euros with wine and bottled water, it's still a steal! It's also the most consistently good food we've come across throughout our various travels.

Trattoria Il Contadino
Via Palazzuolo 71R (near Santa Maria Novella)


  1. Wow sister, it's been 9 years already!!?! Crazy! That means I was there 9 years ago also! What a fun time! Xxo sister

  2. Yes, fun time! That was a long time ago - you were just 16 and Vanessa 14, right?

  3. u made me miss florence sooooooooooooooo much again!! i went back to visit in '07....and it was great to see so much of it is the same since '00...

  4. Thanks for the suggestions of where to eat. We had planned a trip to Florence in NOV 09 but cancelled because our little one got sick. but we still want to go there. Your photos are like postcards.Nostalgic..

  5. Hi Elisa!! I will post one more food recommendation as we spend a couple more nights in Florence on our way back to Switzerland... stay tuned!

  6. Hey Amanda, we are finally making that trip to Florence the last week in March, Yeah!! we are meeting a colleague of my hubby's from the States. They are stayin in a villa outside of Florence. I'm going to follow your suggestion about that restaurant. Any other tips? Should I make a reservation to the museums? We have 2 days to spend. This is our first time to travel there, from your point of view, what places Must I see?


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