Our first full day in Italy started with a delicious breakfast buffet that was complimentary with the hotel.
The buffet offered pastries, hard boiled eggs, fruits, caprese salad, cheese, yogurt, cereal, and just about anything you could possibly want for breakfast.
I opted for some fresh tomatoes and mozzarella, a hard boiled egg, and what I thought was a croissant. I am still not quite sure what it was, but it was flaky and very tasty!
After fueling up for our long day, Brian and I hit the streets.
Florence is a VERY walkable city, so we walked everywhere while we were visiting this town. Our first stop was the Duomo.
Brian is pointing to the giant Duomo in the distance!
We could not believe how huge and ornate this church was, and we could not wait to get inside to climb the stairs to the top!
The Duomo opens it’s doors at 8:30am, so Brian and I showed up at 8am to purchase our tickets to go inside, just as the Rick Steves book advised. We walked around the huge Duomo probably 5 times before realizing that the line at the door was beginning to stack up!
We asked a kind woman who also spoke English, and she explained that she sent her husband off to purchase the tickets while she stood in line…so we did the same thing!
Brian and left and returned with the tickets in no time…it turns out that the doors to the ticket center opened at 8:15am, so we were just a bit too early and actually walked by the area a couple of times!
We had our tickets and waited in line to be one of the first people to climb to the top for the day.
Once we were inside and ready to climb, I was shocked at how much it felt like we were climbing up into a dungeon…needless to say, this church was OLD!
We got to our first stopping point, which allowed us to look at the inside dome and it was amazing!
We could hear people singing down below on the main floor, and we could clearly see the detailed artwork on the very top of the dome. It was gorgeous!
After admiring the beauty of the building, it was time to continue climbing upward on the 463 narrow stairs.
When we finally reached the top, we both agreed that the view was very much MORE than worth it!
We walked around the very top of the Duomo and snapped some pictures, but eventually we realized there was only one way down…literally the same way that we came up!
We climbed down the stairs and dodged the other travelers that were climbing to the top. Luckily we made it down in one piece.
After our Duomo adventure, we sat down for a cappuccino while we read our Rick Steves Italian travel guide so that we could map out the rest of our day.
These cappuccinos were amazing! AND they were heart shaped 🙂
The next stop on our agenda was the San Lorenzo Market which is known for great leather products.
Brian and I were overwhelmed by the number of bags, scarves, and trinkets that filled the stalls in this market. It was hard to decide on anything that I wanted to purchase because everything was pretty!
After shopping through much of the market, I decided on a fun hat! Not only did I think the hat was super cute, but it was much needed on the sunny 90 degree day.
After making our way through the San Lorenzo Market, we headed to the Mercato Centrale (Central Market). This market was very different from the San Lorenzo because it was all FOOD!
When I travel, I love to visit grocery stores and places where people purchase fresh food items because I feel like this really gives me a good peak inside their culture.
As we entered the market, we were greeted by giant tubs of olives and capers 🙂 YUM! That certainly screams Italian culture to me.
I was in LOVE with all of the fresh fruits and veggies. The colors were so vibrant and pretty, and there were a couple of items that seemed common in this market that I have never seen in the states.
Brian was in LOVE with all of the wine 😉
This market not only had produce and wine but they had shops that were making fresh pasta, they sold fresh bread and foccacia, and delicious cheeses. There was a little bit of everything.
We ended up grabbing some foccacia, olives, cheese, and red wine for a little picnic lunch of our own…boy was it good!
After lunch and once we were done with the market, it was time to explore more of Florence.
This was a completely new concept to me, but Florence (and everywhere we went in Italy) did not have drinking fountains. They had these large faucets in the middle of the city…whatever works!
After our bottle was filled, we were off to the Ponte Vecchio. This is a beautiful bridge in Florence that is lined with jewelry stores that are known for selling their 18K gold.
I ended up purchasing a small “Firenze” (that is Florence in Italian) charm to add to a necklace of mine as a little souvenir. Isn’t the box adorable!?
In addition to gold and jewelry stores lining the Ponte Vecchio, there were a ton of Gelaterias (gelato shops) lining the Ponte Vecchio. By this time, Brian and I were very hot, we were ready for a snack, and we needed to sit down for a minute…so we decided a stop for gelato was in order. This would be our FIRST Italian gelato.
Although we both had high hopes, we were a little bit disappointed with our first Italian gelato experience (don’t worry, we made up for it later!). There were no signs labeling the flavors and the woman serving us gelato did not understand us when we asked what some of the flavors were…so we ended up getting three flavors, two of which tasted like a bland vanilla…oh well!!
We were still able to rest our feet and take a breather before heading back out into the hot sun.
After we were refreshed, we headed out to our third market of the day: Mercato Nuovo.
Because we had already been to two markets that day, we pretty much breezed right through this one. BUT we made sure to stop at the Fontana del Porcellino. We dropped some change in the fountain and rubbed it’s nose, because rumor has it that if your rub the shiny nose of the boar you will return to Florence!
And we definitely want to return to Florence someday.
We were feeling pretty tired after all of our running around at this point, but Brian and I are both very g0-go-go and wanted to see as many sites as possible on our only FULL day in Florence.
A blog reader, Rebecca, who studied abroad in Florence during college and fell in LOVE with the city (we can see why!) gave us several recommendations for things to do and places to eat and she recommended visiting the Boboli Gardens if we had time.
Brian and I headed to the gardens, which used to be a Medici Palace to take a peak at the beautiful views of the city.
We then walked around and indoor exhibit that featured women’s fashions all the way from the 1800’s until now. It was crazy to see the similarities between pieces that were created at completely separate time periods.
Thanks for the tip, Rebecca!
Now, after all that walking in some not-so-supportive sandals I have to admit that my feet were not feeling too great.
Brian and I took this as a chance to rest, rehydrate, and relax for a minute…and we ended up napping for over an hour!
We did wake up though just in time for dinner 🙂
Rebecca recommended a couple of dinner places, so we decided to check out Il Gatto e La Volpe. This restaurant had a casual and welcoming feel that really reminded me of a restaurant that Brian and I visited in Little Italy NYC.
I guess all of the walking and heat really had our tummies grumbling, because we literally scarfed down the bread bowl and still had plenty of room for our dinner. This bread was NOT disappointing like the previous night, so we thoroughly enjoyed our pre-dinner snack 🙂
And of course we enjoyed a delicious glass of wine with our meal.
We ended up splitting a pasta with fresh tomato, parmesan and pesto and a delicious tossed salad.
I honestly did not think that I would be able to get a salad while on this honeymoon, but I had no problem getting some fresh greens into my diet. I was certainly pleased about that!
We decided to walk off our dinner and enjoyed people watching in the plaza outside the Duomo.
It was a perfect first full day in Italy, and I am so glad that we crammed so many things into that one day 🙂
I’ll be back tomorrow with a wrap up of our time in Florence, then we head to the Cinque Terre region!