Warning for slight discussion of my struggles with an eating disorder.
So, we’re onto Part Two of my Italian adventures! This time it’s the ‘pre-drive’ places which were Florence and Pisa!
Florence (3 nights)
We arrived in Florence in the evening, our apartment being just a fifteen minute walk away from the station! The place we stayed was called the Settesanti Vintage House and honestly, it was one of my favourite places to stay out of the whole trip! It was a cute little home with, as the name says, lots of little vintage touches. It was cosy and had a balcony that gave us a stunning view of the city. I felt very comfortable and at home here.
After settling in and changing into nicer clothes, we set out into the city centre to grab some tea. We went to a restaurant called Caffe Italiano, a restaurant recommended by my friend. It was down a little side street and had such a calm and romantic atmosphere. After getting our tasty bread basket, we ordered a starter of poached eggs in a cheese fondue! My boyfriend and I are big fans of cheese fondue (and honestly just cheese in general), so were very excited to try this with an eggy touch! It was INCREDIBLE! It also came with green beans that I swept up instantly and we spent time dunking the bread in our cheesy eggy mix. It worked so well!
Once we had devoured our dairy masterpiece, we had our mains. Now, when my friend recommended this place to me, she mentioned something that had never made me feel more excited. She explained that they do a four types of tomato pizza… yep! A FOUR TYPES OF TOMATO PIZZA!! I am a tomato fanatic; I literally love it in every form – baby plum, ketchup, pasta sauce, you name it! So hearing this made my decision very easy! I was so excited that I was practically bursting out of my seat as we waited for our food. And hooooly shit. Holy. Shit. It was insane! It was definitely the best pizza I have ever had, and the dough was so beautifully soft too! It was like eating a sweet, cheesy, soft, pillow filled with everything good in the world. I can’t get over how much I loved it. It was split into four sections and every section was just incredible!
Now, I just wanted to add this little side note about the restaurant because both my boyfriend and I had a funny experience when we went to the toilet. To get there, you had to walk through the kitchen where there was a lift just in the corner of it, then go down the lift by keeping your finger held on the button! Once you got down there, the toilet was pretty easy to find but it was right next to the gigantic wine cellar! It was fascinating! A little adventure within the restaurant when you’re just wanting to poop!
The next day I had booked a Gnocchi Making Class in the centre! Yep, we were actually going to learn how to cook our own Gnocchi with a delicious vegetarian ragu! It was organised by a lovely host called Anna who helped us prepare all our vegetables before explaining how to make the Gnocchi. I did not realise that Gnocchi is literally just potatoes and flour! You boil a potato until it’s soft, peel the skin off before mashing it. Then you add a shit ton of flour to make it into a dough! That’s when you start to roll pieces of it into balls, continuing to add lots more flour in the process! It did take about an hour to make, but the end result was worth it. The Gnocchi was lovely and we had it with a tasty tomato-ey vegetable sauce! We were also greeted with a sweet glass of red wine and a tomato bruscetta! We finished the class by trying biscotti (an Italian dessert), dipped in a very sharp, sweet wine. Not gonna lie, it wasn’t really my kind of thing, but god the Gnocchi was incredible. I will be honest, eating so much at such an early time in the day did unsettle me. It was challenging me out of my routine of having foods at set times. But isn’t the whole point of being on holiday to be away from your routine? There’s no rules unless you impose any on yourself and then you’re just restricting your fun and freedom. I decided to take a deep breath and try and focus on the exciting activities our day was filled with. It calmed me down and I started to feel okay.
So, after having a very successful brunch, we started to head up to Piazzale Michealangelo to get a panoramic view of beautiful Florence! It was such a warm day, so once again, we were slightly sweaty messes once we got to the top of the hill. But the view was definitely worth it; it was beautiful! It was the best location to really get the perfect view of Florence. It felt amazing to get such a wonderful view, on a beautiful day, whilst with the best company. We stood for a while to really soak in the view (and of course take some photos).
The second we started to head back down the hill, the weather changed very drastically. We went from soaking in the views, to soaking in the rain (badum tiss). But, we were so hot and sweaty that the rain was actually really refreshing. It was just crazy how quickly things changed! We sheltered ourselves as it really started to pour it down, my boyfriend carrying an expensive camera that we really did not want to get ruined. Luckily, the showers didn’t last too long and we got ourselves back into the centre to see the Piazza Della Signoria. As a BIG horror fan, this was my boyfriend’s idea as it is the tower from the Hannibal film where Hannibal spews this guy’s guts out and chucks him out the window of the tower, making the man fall with his intestines flying out with him (splendid). Yep, we stood in front of THE PLACE where that scene was shot (I bet you’re jealous)!
Sadly, it began to pour it down with rain again and we thought it was best to call it a day. We walked our drenched selves back to the apartment where we decided we were going to cook tea that night. We grabbed things from the supermarket and off we went with being all gourmet! We made spaghetti with pesto and vegetables (difficult, I know!) as well as serving a salad bowl and of course, our own little bread basket for the start. Of course, it also wouldn’t have been complete without a glass of wine (or two!). It was really tasty and just lovely to relax on the balcony and watch Florence from above.
The next day it was time for us to visit the Florence Cathedral. It such a stunning and detailed building, something I just couldn’t quite stop staring at. There was a pretty massive queue (and very hot weather), but luckily it went quickly and soon we were stepping inside. It was just as stunning and beautiful inside; the windows were so colourful and mosaic-ed (is that a word?). It was lovely getting to walk around and explore. Once we’d spent time in awe at all the beauty of the Cathedral, we made our way out for lunch. We went to a lovely little cafe called Foody Farm, where we took a little break from all the pasta and pizza. Instead we went for chips, falafels and mini burgers. You could get little tapas-like dishes so we ordered a few and had a feast. We ended up with four portions of chips between us! But it all tasted delicious! I have no idea what was in those falafels, but they were so tasty!!
Once we had peaked with the incredible little feast we had had, we knew it was time for even more food! But first we did have a short stop at Pitti Palace. Truthfully, looking at all the paintings did get a bit boring and repetitive for me, but the building itself is gorgeous and definitely amazing for anyone who is a big fan of Renaissance artwork. However, because it wasn’t really our thing, we made a swift exit to search for a delicious gelato to have. We actually ended up going to Venchi: what my boyfriend and I like to call ‘the Italian version of Lindt’. I had a Salted Caramel gelato from there and it was just as sweet and yummy as ever! It even came with a melted chocolate spread at the bottom of the tub which was just glorious! We devoured our ice creams in a matter of minutes (and then my boyfriend may have had an allergic reaction to the hazelnut but hey, I’m sure it was worth it for the incredible taste).
As we were leaving early the next day to go to Pisa, we knew our last night needed to be special (and filled with lots of bread and pasta). So, we went to a fancy restaurant (that once again, I’m sorry, I don’t remember the name of), obviously ordered a wine, and had amazing pasta dishes. Florence was definitely my favourite city of the trip; it is fun, elegant and beautiful.
Pisa (2 nights)
We arrived in Pisa in the late afternoon, settling in to our lovely little apartment that overlooked the riverfront. As my boyfriend is a big horror fan (& just of films in general, like, he has a whole degree in it), he found out that there was an Alfred Hitchcock Museum going on near the centre! So, off we went to find out about the creator behind some of the best, spookiest films.
It was quite a small exhibition, but filled with so much! Truthfully, before visiting, I had only ever watched Psycho (which still to this day I could watch again and again), so a lot of the clips and film information was new to me. But from looking behind the scenes of so many of his classics, I realised I definitely wanted to see more! As someone who has a very big fear of birds (especially Pidgins), I know The Birds is a horror film I would find a tiiiny bit traumatising (which means I need to see it!).
After such a fun, unique experience, we decided to go back home and order food for tea, creating a relaxing end to such an active day!
The next day was city exploring time and of course, checking out the Leaning Tower. We arrived to find that all the main attractions in the city were very close together (aka next to each other), so, in the space of like an hour, we managed to take some classic Tourist photos holding up the tower, see the Cathedral AND the Baptistery all in one. Everything did cost money to go inside and we weren’t particularly feeling it, so we stayed outside to admire all the buildings. However, this did make us feel a bit stuck on what to do next by the time it got to lunch. We grabbed some food at a cute restaurant (my boyfriend had a set menu – three courses – for just 12 Euros!), and then decided we would do the city wall walk. It takes about two hours and you do get truly the best views of the city… but also the worst. By the end of the walk, you are kind of trapped in the slightly less appealing parts. It was still fun though and we got many beautiful views (focus on the nice parts)!
On our last evening in the city, we thought it’d be best to take a little break from all the Italian food… we went to an Indian. I had a veggie korma. It was one of the best meals on the trip. Don’t judge me.
The next day we got to the airport to pick up our rental car, and the drive began…