Day 3 on the Brilliance of the Seas Mediterranean Cruise – Port of Call – Florence. Ok, so the port of call was Livorno and from there you could explore Pisa or Florence. Obviously we chose Florence.
Florence is about an hour and a half trip from Livorno. Royal Caribbean offered an excursion where they would bus you to and from Florence, it was about $200 for two people. We decided to go for the cheaper version, the train.
We got up nice and early and were one of the first people off the boat. We walked pass all the expensive buses towards the taxis. We ended up sharing a taxi to the train station with a group of 5 people and it ended up costing us 5 euro a piece. The train tickets cost us 26,80 euro for two, round trip – much cheaper than the excursion!!!!! (Italian Trains and Ports)
The train ride was about an hour and forty-five minutes. When we arrived in Florence we checked out the schedule to get an idea of how often trains went back to Livorno, which turned out to be every 30 minutes.
Our first stop was the Duomo. We got there so early it hadn’t opened yet, so we weren’t able to go inside. We stopped back by on our way back to the train station in the afternoon and were able to go inside. Tip: Ladies have to have their shoulders covered or they make you wear paper dresses.
I once again relied very heavily on the City Maps 2Go iPhone app to get us around Florence. From the Duomo we headed to Piazza della Signoria. Where we saw a few very famous statutes.
I know it is demented but I absolutely adore this statute. The detail and emotion that is conveyed is unbelievable. The grotesque display of guts hanging from Medusa’s neck and from her body just sucks you in. I am in awe of the craftsmanship and beauty of something so deplorable.
We found a little cafe off the Piazza della Signoria for a morning snack. Kenny was very impressed with how quickly Italians would come in for an espresso, stand at the bar, drink it, and move on with their day in about 5 minutes. Kenny wasn’t ready to completely conform yet so we grabbed a table for a coffee and a hot chocolate (my favorite) and this yummy little donut.
After the gnash we headed towards the Ponte Vecchio – which is the famous bridge you often see in pictures of Florence with all the buildings on the bridge, that look like they are barely hanging on.
Kenny wanted to explore the bridge and I was very surprised because I knew all the buildings were jewelry stores, and I thought he knew that too. I was starting to think he wanted to get me something sparkly. I should have known better, because half way across, he asked if all the shops were jewelry stores. Clearly he had missed the memo. If you get the chance though, it’s pretty impressive window shopping.
After the Ponte Vecchio we headed to the Ufizzi. I had purchased tickets online, which basically allows you to reserve a time and then you pick up your real tickets the morning of. I would definitely recommend purchasing tickets to the Ufizzi online because at 11 the line was already pretty long.
The Uffizi is made up of primarily religious art. My favorite paintings were Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Primavera.
My favorite thing about Italy – GELATO!!!!!! I had read in one of the travel books that the best gelato was at Gelateria Vivoli. So of course we had to go. I consider myself a gelato connoisseur and the way that I determine the quality of the gelato is by having strawberry flavored or in Italian- fragola. The Gelateria Vivoli had the best fragola gelato I have ever had. It was unbelievable!!!!!!
Part of the gelato thrill is seeing the amazing displays.
Throughout the trip there was this ongoing issue with converting money. A couple days before we left we realized that our credit card company was going to charge us a conversion fee, about a dollar, for every transaction. So we decided we would convert more cash and just pay with cash. Well when I went to Bank of America, they informed me that you have to come in early and request the foreign currency and then they will have it in the bank 3 days later. We didn’t have 3 days. So we figured we’d convert at the airport with Travelex – what a ripoff?!?!?! We converted and then did the math and got our money back. They ended up being 10% lower than everywhere else. On the cruise ship the exchange rate was about 70 cent for a euro.
While in Florence Kenny saw this hole in the wall (literally) that offered a really good exchange rate, so he went for it.
You can see why I would be concerned about the authenticity of the euro’s we were given. We spent them and no one questioned us so I guess it worked out. We also used a hole in the wall exchange place (Cambio) in Naples that gave a really good rate. So the moral is go to your bank early, the ghetto fabulous places have good rates, if all else fails the cruise rate isn’t that bad, the airport exchange is robbery!
Here is my moment of honesty, I had a second gelato before the train station. And this one Kenny declared the best gelato.
The flavor was Kinder Chocolate. I’m guessing most of you are like, what? Kinder is a brand of chocolate in Europe and one of their specialties are Kinder Eggs. They are chocolate eggs that have a little prize on the inside. Yes the prize is fun, but the chocolate is so unbelievably good. Kinder Eggs are very difficult to find in the states (choking hazard) although I have been able to a time or two. We brought Kinder Eggs home to Kenny’s niece and nephew and for my brother. My brother is a very big fan.
And that is pretty much our day in Florence. Tomorrow – Rome