Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Vicky's online Florence travel diary! As you might remember, me and my boyfriend decided to visit this city, - the ultimate birthplace of the Renaissance, - a few months ago and last Saturday, we finally went there. It was such an amazing trip, filled with delicious food, gorgeous landscapes, art and so much more..! But see for yourselves - here comes the massive picture overload of our five days in Florence! Enjoy! :) 

As I already mentioned, our journey began on Saturday of Easter week, a quite rainy and windy day. To calm my nerves, I got my hands on a prosciutto focaccia, which was absolutely delicious!

Up in the air though, the weather seemed just fine and for some weird reason I wasn't as afraid of flying that time as I normally am! There's something oddly fascinating and astonishing about the formation of clouds, I really must say. As scary as it is to be flying that high, there's still something calming and peaceful about it.

After landing at Aeoroporto di Firenze we immediately got on the Airport bus which took us directly to the train station. Unfortunately it was raining quite heavily, which, however, didn't take away any of our anticipation towards exploring the city! 

Since our hotel is situated near the train station (and is also just a few steps away from the Florentine Dome) we decided to walk there.

Hotel Paris provided us a wonderful little room with a divided balcony. It was such a nice feeling to get up in the morning and step outside to take a look at the city's roofs every single day. 

The entire hotel was initially built as a palazzo by Bernardo Buontalenti in 1599 and slowly changed its look over the upcoming decades. Our breakfast hall was one of the most gorgeous rooms I have ever seen- when it comes to hotels, - as the ceiling was covered in frescoes in the style of Bernardo Poccetti.

One of our first missions after we had arrived was to go to the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore ,- Il Duomo, which was begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. 

The Campanile (bell tower) was started in 1334 by Giotto di Bondone and would eventually be continued by three other architects.

Next we went to Piazza della Repubblica, the city's first forum and former ghetto in the medieval ages. The grand "Arcone", - the porticos with the triumphal arch, was designed by Micheli and  inspired by Florentine Renaissance architecture.

In a restaurant right at that square we had our first pizza, which was just yummy!

Next stop was Pallazzo Vecchio which is the town hall of Florence. This romanesque, fortress-palace definitely is one of the most impressive town halls of Tuscany. 

In 1299 the people of Florence decided to build this palace in order to give the magistrates of the city greater security in times of turbulence. Arnolfo di Cambio, the architect of the Duomo and the Santa Croce church, began constructing it in the same year. 

The interior of the Palazzo Vecchio dates back to the reign of Cosimo I, who had the palace completely redecorated by Giorgio Vasari, the court architect of the Medici. The Palazzo overlooks the Piazza della Signoria where you can find a copy of Michelangelo's David statue - whose original form is situated in the Galleria dell' Accademia. Now speaking to all of you movie lovers out there - if you're going: "I've never been to Florence but why do I know that building?" - it is most likely that you've seen the movie Hannibal, the sequel of Silence of the Lambs. The movie Hannibal mainly takes place in Florence and in one particular scene Hannibal aka Anthony Hopkins kills one of his traitors, Commissario Rinaldo Pazzi, by hanging him at the balcony of the Palazzo Vecchio. Creepy, indeed. But somehow wonferful as well that Florence is such a big character in this movie. If you're intrigued, here's a clip of that particular scene: 

Right on the Piazza della Signoria one also stumbles upon the statues in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi, which houses many important sculptures -(and copies) from the Renaissance. It was built between 1376 and 1382 by Benci di Cione and Simone di Francesco Talenti.

Since we had already bought museum tickets for the Uffizi Gallery for Sunday afternoon, we only walked by the Gallery and quickly marched towards the river Arno and the wonderful Ponte Vecchio.

Ponte Vecchio, which was most likely built before 996 and is the only bridge that survived WW2, is mostly known for its variety of jewelry shops.

As the sun set over Florence we decided to take a hike up towards the Piazzale Michelangelo where you can get a marvellous overview of the city of Florence.

That was pretty much where our tour ended the first day. Our next morning started with some delicious breakfast and then we were off to the museum! Our first stop was Galleria dell' Accademia, where we paid a visit to Michelangelo's David and other important masterpieces of the Renaissance.

As we made our way back to il Duomo we were overpowered by this massive load of people who all gathered at the square of Santa Maria del Fiore to take pictures of the rituals going on there - due to Easter Sunday. I thought it would be much more fascinating to take pictures of the people observing the ongoing event.

Our next museum visit was at one of the world's oldest and - in my opinion - most beautiful yet most airless and stifling galleries I've ever been to. The Uffizi Gallery. Built in 1560 by Giorgio Vasari for Cosimo I de' Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates ("uffizi" = offices) it opened up to the public as a gallery in 1765.

From the Uffizi Gallery we were able to enjoy a marvellous view over Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River.

In between our visits to the different exhibition rooms, we took a little break and went to the coffeehouse-terrace on top of the Uffizi Gallery. The view was absolutely fantastic, -the coffee expensive!

After having spent almost 4 hours inside museum walls and leaving some much needed money in the museum shop, we were due for some ice cream. (We're not exactly on a diet here, as you can see.) :)

This is me, knocking on the outer doors of Palazzo Pitti also known as my second residence here in Tuscany, of course.

My servants seemed to have gone on their lunch break though, so I was left outside alone of Palazzo Pitti. What a pity. (Linguistic joke intended).

Fortunately, we were able to get in through Bobuli Gardens a few blocks away from the main entrance of the Palazzo! (Insider-hint)!

Here you can see Mike aka the ultimate cat lover lusting after this "black beauty" (-in his eyes) and trying to get closer, however, Miss Arrogant didn't even deign to look at him. 

His affection was rejected.

Not far away from the exit we stumbled upon another fine young lady who had just made herself comfortable on a bench. 
Mike immediately sensed his chance and went for it.

However, once again it seemed, his devotion and charming talks were of no avail. 

 Once again, his affection was rejected.

Heartbroken and confused (on his part) we went back to the hotel to take a little break. 

Back on the street we were simply walking around the city and enjoying the radiant charm Florence has to offer at nighttime.

For dinner we went to this nice restaurant near Palazzo Vecchio (I believe..) where Mike ordered some lasagna and I indulged in some risotto con funghi.

The next day was one of my personal favourites! Mike and I decided to book a bus tour through Tuscany (only 55€ per person). The tour included the following things: visit to the cities Monteriggioni, Siena and San Gimignano. Also included was some ice cream, the ticket to the Siena Cathedral and a wine tasting at a resort in the Tuscan hills. The tour started at around 9am in the morning, first stop was Monteriggioni.

In this medieval village you're able to buy oil, soap, jam, herbs etc .. ! I really loved this place, as I'm a fan of smaller towns. :)

You still remember Mike's aim to win the hearts of the Florentine cat-ladies, right? Well, since the Florentine ones seemed to despise his efforts, he tried once again in Monteriggioni as he figured - third time's a charm!

And who would have thought .. ? It actually worked! Cats from the suburbs rule!

After a 30 minute stay we had to return to the bus again in order to drive to our next destination - Siena.

After touring around in Siena for about 3 hours, we were off to San Gimignano, a small  hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany. 

Known as the Town of Fine Towers, San Gimignano is famous for its medieval architecture, especially its tower houses which will give you a view on the hills of Tuscany.

Unfortunately we only had about an hour time in San Gimignano, -I would have loved to keep on walking around the town! But our next and final destination would make up for the short stay entirely.

We stopped off at the Hotel Sovestro near San Gimignano, which is situated in a delightful complex that stretches across a vast park of pine trees, coasted by vineyards, olive trees and luxuriant Tuscan and Mediterranean vegetation.

We were able to indulge in a wine tasting of three different wines that are being produced only by the family that owns this particular vineyard.

We were offered some olive oil, prosciutto and bread as well - the taste was just marvellous!

We left the Chianti Hills at around 6:30pm and came home to Florence about an hour later. The whole trip made me realize for the first time how unbelievable picturesque and gorgeous the landscape of Tuscany actually is. 

The next day was our second to last day here in Florence, so we decided to take it slow and just walk around the city.

Oh and before I forget - (yes, this is going to be the last part of this blogpost,- you've almost made it!) :), we found this really wonderful Botanic Garden near Galleria dell'Accademia, which honestly is on my favourites list now. But see for yourselves how beautiful it is!

Ugh. I wanna go back. I miss Florence so much!!! On Wednesday, after doing some souvenir shopping, we flew back home to Vienna in the early afternoon. 

I really hope you guys enjoyed this looooooooooong blogpost about my stay in Florence! Thanks for reading, have a lovely day! :)