Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,266
Registered: ‎03-12-2010

Trip Report - Liguria and Tuscany, Italy (May 2023)

I wasn't supposed to be in Italy.  I was supposed to be in Scotland and, later this year, Morocco. But, for personal reason, I needed to switch my trips around to save a little money.  The Morocco trip was with Backroads and I wanted to use my credits.  I had been thinking about returning to Italy next year, so checked their May trips and found one that would work for me.  I was not sad about the switch.  I do believe Italy is my most visited country (next to Mexico).  Including cruises, this would be my 6th time in Italy.


The tour would start in Pisa, but I was not happy with the flights into Florence.  I decided on a nonstop flight into Rome, which I used points for.  In my mind, this meant I didn't pay anything for the flight and, when I saw an offer to upgrade to business for the flight there, the price wasn't that obnoxious.  Yay! I was flying in a fully reclining seat!!




This was a huge treat! How the "other half" fly:




Meal selection was actually available in advance online, but I waited until I was on board to choose. Was very happy with the food. 😊




I was originally going to order the yogurt option for breakfast and frankly wish I had. Wasn't bad, but would have appreciated something lighter.



LOL Although I was pretty excited about my upgrade, I'm sure nobody came here to hear about my flight! Let's see some ITALY!!




Since I'm usually an aisle seat passenger, this was my first time seeing her from air and she is gorgeous!


My flight landed in Rome before 8am. I expected a long time in customs and therefore planned my train to Florence for after 11:50am. I had a looong wait!!  We breezed through immigration - just took our photo and stamped our passport books.  I suppose I could have tried to switch my tickets, but I chose to have a quick bite to eat and wait. Read my kindle. Got questioned by the police.  The usual (that's not a joke, I was questioned here and twice in the airport on the way home.  Don't be surprised if they stop you.)

First night in Florence awaits...





Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,293
Registered: ‎03-15-2010

Re: Trip Report - Liguria and Tuscany, Italy (May 2023)

Now we just need @World Traveler to restart posting her travels and it will be just like old times.  She's the one that started this travel forum years ago. 

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,266
Registered: ‎03-12-2010

Re: Trip Report - Liguria and Tuscany, Italy (May 2023)

Have you heard the phrase "Tik Tok made me buy it"? Well, anything that wasn't part of my Backroads' tour could be said "TripAdvisor made me try it." Hotels, (most) restaurants, and activities were found there.

I stayed at the Continentale near the Ponte Vecchio Bridge and I would stay there again.  I admit it was a little loud being near such a busy area, but it did quiet down later at night. I had the cheapest room as I was traveling on my own, but the bathrooms were a great size. Big shower. 

First night was a food tour (something I often look for). This was the Walking Food Tour of Florence with Tastings with Walking Palates. We met in front of Santa Croce Basilica, which is where Michelangelo and Galileo (as well as other luminaries) are buried.  I've seen their tombs twice before and, as I chose to rest before my tour, I was too late to go again. I do recommend for first timers.

Walking to the tour




The tour 






Finally some wine! Don't worry - it was flowing freely in the other stops! 

One of the famous wine windows (and our charming guide)!


We ended the night with gelato and i apparently didn't get a photo!! Shockingly, I didn't eat much gelato this trip and therefore must plan a return trip soon!!





Photo of Ponte Vecchio a few steps from my hotel




Day 1 complete.

Trusted Contributor
Posts: 1,305
Registered: ‎03-13-2010

Re: Trip Report - Liguria and Tuscany, Italy (May 2023)

I'll be following your trip!


Last April I chaperoned a high school trip to Italy/Greece.  We started in Rome, onto Florence and then took an overnight ferry to Greece. 


In Italy we stopped at Orvieto & Perugia.  Loved it.  This was my 4th trip to Italy.  I could go another 30 times and never be bored.Woman Very Happy



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Re: Trip Report - Liguria and Tuscany, Italy (May 2023)

I love Italy and business class looks heavenly!

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,266
Registered: ‎03-12-2010

Re: Trip Report - Liguria and Tuscany, Italy (May 2023)

Before I continue, I want to apologize for any errors posting.  I'm using my cell phone and don't always look back at what I write.  I've been embarrassed by shocking grammatical errors before, so please forgive me.


getting back...


This was my third time in Florence, the other times via cruise ship stops.  I had never gone into the museums and, having recently read Stephen Fry's Mythos, became mildly obsessed with seeing The Birth of Venus.


I reserved a Uffizi and Accademia Small Group tour with Florence & Global.


On my way to the starting point, I saw many people looking into a doorway.  So many gems in Florence!!




Galleria dell'Accademia




the hall to David is filled with partially finished statues by Michelangelo. They were part of an impossible commission by one of the popes.



Excuse my censorship.  David is considered the epitome of masculine beauty, but you will notice that he's not to scale.  His hand and right foot are huge, for example.  That's because he was originally supposed to be looked at from far below, so the angle would have made sense.IMG_1339.jpeg

This was an imperfect stone that other sculptors didn't want to work with.  Notice the veins in his arms. Incredible.


The tour walked past the Piazza del Duomo






Loved this shop!








Respected Contributor
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Registered: ‎04-28-2010

Re: Trip Report - Liguria and Tuscany, Italy (May 2023)

@Alter Ego   Thank you for sharing.  I've never been to Italy.  I went to Brazil twice, and I LOVED business class.  It really made the long flight very nice!  I'll follow your updates here.  Business class really spoiled me.  Enjoy your trip!

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,266
Registered: ‎03-12-2010

Re: Trip Report - Liguria and Tuscany, Italy (May 2023)

Gallerie Degli Uffizi







(Worth the trip 😍 Loved it!)









The tour lasted quite a long time and then I stayed to see a bit of the museum not included in the tour (the Medusa above).  I had plans and ran for a quick bite at La Nicchietta in Calimaruzza



I rushed eating because I had another appointment.  I guess it must be an "in" thing to have a rooftop drink and my hotel was able to oblige.  Reservations necessary and, when I looked, none were available.  The absolutely fantastic concierge got me a seat, with the rooftop staff leaving me a message via WhatsApp (recommended for foreign travel).


La Terrazza





So nice, I had it twice.  Warning - drinks were not cheap! Maybe not worth the cost, but it sure was tasty!


Dinner took me to a restaurant recommended by my guide from the night before (I asked for something near my hotel). Across the river was Golden View Firenze.  And I wanted to try something...different (at least for me).



I can't remember what this was! Possible they changed the menu because I don't recognize it. Enjoyed it though!



Pigeon, because I wanted to try something different and seemed harmless enough.  Unfortunately, was my last time trying pigeon! LOL


Pistachio cake.


the view was beautiful and, although the food was good, I feel like you can get better in Florence.  I did have a sense of deja vu as I'm sure I ate here years ago with my mother on our first European cruise (thanks to Rick Steves.)

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,266
Registered: ‎03-12-2010

Re: Trip Report - Liguria and Tuscany, Italy (May 2023)

My final full day in Florence was also the first Sunday of the month and, therefore, museums were free.  I slept in a bit and then made my way to Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. I can only assume the other museums were packed; o TUINK this is a great choice for some smaller crowds.


I also only went to the residences portion of Pitti.  There is apparently an art gallery as well, but, as usual, my time was short.









(I should do a post of all the ceilings!!)








Apparently all I do is eat.  I had to leave for my late lunch reservation  at Degusteria Italiana agli Uffizi.  Excellent; highly recommended.


Don't let the empty seats fool you.  This was at the end of my lunch and it was late. Nevertheless, it seemed possible to walk in at lunch.  Not sure about dinner.


Their wine list. Seriously.



Tagliolini with black truffle



I wanted something light and pigeon scared me from ordering anything "unusual" again.  This was excellent, but was pretty much the same texture.  Sardinian pecorino DOP flan, aspart, potatoes, mint and lemon.



I think this is the Namalaka with ruby chocolate, licorice, pomegranate, and pistachio. (I should have taken notes or photos of the menus! LOL)


I had one more thing planned for my last night in Florence...




Esteemed Contributor
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Registered: ‎03-12-2010

Re: Trip Report - Liguria and Tuscany, Italy (May 2023)

Pizza and Gelato Cooking Class at a Tuscan Farmhouse with Walkabout Tours.


This was a last minute addition to my plans as I frankly had none for Sunday nigh! This was absolutely a great tour, but we actually had quite a long walk from the pick up point to the bus (why not say meet at the bus location?) There were also a lot of stairs to the class.  I mention because we had a couple of elderly people with their family group who found it difficult.  They actually stopped midway into the walk to bus and a cab was called to take them to the farmhouse. (Only to be met with more steps).  In spite of that, I think everyone had a great time!



Snack to greet us.



Don't have a great photo of the gelato making portion, but one of our chefs (and volunteer) made some quick lemon granita.






Gelato buffet with everyone's creations and choice of toppings.


Yummy! They later followed up with recipes for everything we made, even telling us we could email with any questions.


And that concludes the Florence portion of my trip.  Will finish with some random photos.





And, if you've been watching QVC for as long as I have, the next few photos should need no explanation.







On to Pisa...