After a busy 3 days in Rome, it was time to head to the next stop, and base for a few days, Florence. We started the day wishing J a Happy Birthday! Turning 40 in Italy is pretty great, but if you get to be that lucky, you do have to wear embarrassing birthday flair all day.
We took a Frecciarosa train to Firenze, a short 1 hour and 15 minute ride. When we arrived, it was still too early in the day to check-in to our AirBnb, so we used the train station Deposito Bagagli. Many train stations in Italy offer this service, especially the ones in the larger cities. For a small fee per bag, you can check your luggage for a period of time into a secure location – great for exploring the city unencumbered by heavy luggage.
After we dropped our bags, we made a beeline to the Mercato Centrale for lunch. Located on the ground floor of the historic San Lorenzo market, the space has been reimagined as a food court with stalls, shops, and open, communal seating.
Properly fueled for the day, we set off on another self-guided walking tour: The Duomo and Baptistry – Piazza della Signoria & Palazzo Vecchio – Ponte Vecchio – Basilica di Santa Maria Novella. It was excruciatingly hot in Florence that day. Since my motto is “when the kids get cranky – get gelato”, we stopped for gelato a few times. Once at Perché no! and the 2nd time at an emergency bar somewhere on Via della Scala.
With 5 kids under the age of 10, we knew that lots of art and museums were not in the cards for this visit to Florence. We did not go into the Uffizi or the Duomo, and that’s OK. We did show the kids the replica of the David in the Piazza outside of the Palazzo Vecchio (see below: it left quite the impression), and we spent time checking out the sculptures in the nearby Loggia dei Lanzi.
We wrapped up our afternoon walking tour back at the train station, picked up all our luggage, and grabbed taxis to our Airbnb. This apartment was located a bit outside of the city center and is owned by an American family now living in Florence. The girls and I picked up a birthday torta for J, and we held a mini birthday party with the kids.
The adults had bigger plans for celebrating a 40th birthday in Florence! After EXTENSIVE research and review reading, both families agreed that we felt comfortable enough getting a babysitter for the kids from International Babysitters so that we could have an adults only night. We were nervous, the kids were nervous, but it worked out just fine.
We celebrated J with a birthday dinner at Locale Firenze. The restaurant is located in a former Palazzo, and the cocktails and food were incredible. We had SUCH a spectacular evening!
For our 2nd day in Florence, we made the bold decision to take the kids on a Chianti Wine Tour with Viator. We spent a leisurely morning in the Airbnb letting the Dad’s catch up on some work and then made our way to meet the bus for our tour. Even though these types of tourist tours aren’t my favorite, we knew it would be our safest option to do some wine tasting.
The tour stopped at two wineries – Riseccoli and Poggio Amorelli. Both wineries are family owned, and the group was led through a wine tasting at both locations that was also accompanied by locals meats, breads and cheeses. They also provided alcohol free beverages for the kids and allowed them to snack even though they obviously weren’t wine tasting. The bus also stopped for visits in the towns of Greve in Chianti and Castellina in Chianti for exploring and shopping. We obviously got the kids ice creams in both places 🙂
One day when the girls are older, we’ll take them back to Florence. We’ll visit the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace, talk about the Medici family, explore the Boboli Gardens and climb to the top of the Duomo. But for this trip, for their ages, this was just right.
What We Say About Florence
I’m looking forward to visiting the Uffizi with the girls one dayMom
The vineyards were really prettyBig Sis C
I just love the gelatoLis Sis M
Dinner at Locale was an amazing cap to my 40th birthdayDad