Earlier this year, our very own Denise was taken off on a short trip to Italy with our friends from Typically Italian. Sounds like she had a great time and has written some notes for you to add to your research for your next holiday...
I did some backpacking through Italy about 20 years ago and Florence and Pisa were on my route, so this was a bit like a homecoming, as I love Italy and the Italian people, their food and culture.
With a hop skip and a jump from Gatwick we arrived in Pisa in just over two hours. The flight with Easy Jet was comfortable and friendly.
Transfers from Pisa to Florence took about an hour and fifteen minutes by shuttlebus which gave us all chance to grab a bit of shut eye after the early morning flight.
Upon our arrival at the Hotel Corona D’Italia we checked in and time for a quick freshen up and then head out for an amazing typically Italian lunch at Za-Za Trattoria. Then a Private tour of Florence started. This can be booked at about £150 for 4 people.
One of the most amazing sites was Michelangelo’s sculpture if David, the embodiment of perfection, which is housed in the Accedemia Gallery. Our walk took us to the Duomo Cathedral a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto and has the highest unsupported dome in the world. A must see is the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence, Italy, noted for still having shops built along it.
Our tour of Florence finished at a local Pizzaria and a taste of the locally made Lemonchello.
Day 2: Lucca, the City of a 100 Churches.
After a great breakfast we set of for Lucca, about an hours’ shuttlebus drive from Florence. Once again we had a wonderful private guide. And as the name suggests, there are the most amazing churches around every corner. The city is on the Serchio river and surrounded by well preserved walls dating from the Renaissance period. It is also the birth place of the composer Puccini. Besides the 100 churches, there are a staggering Chocolate and Italian Shoe shops and a wonderful Food Market.
The Case Guinigi and the Guinigi Tower represent a marvelous example of Mediaeval architecture in Lucca. The Case Guinigi were a group of mansions and towers where one of the most important families of the town, the Guinigi, lived. On the top of this tower there are seven holm-oaks still standing strong.
Lunch was again at a wonderfully local restaurant called, Ristorante Bucadisantantonia, amazing food, wine and compony.
The atmosphere of this little town is quiet yet bustling at the same time. Back to Florence we went, absolutely buzzing.
After a wonder around Florence market and a freshen up, we met up for yet another amazing meal. This time at the La Terarzza Restaurant in the Baglioni Hotel. Wow, what a view! Looking right at Duomo, what a wonderful end to a wonderful stay in Florence.
Day 3: Pisa
Back to Pisa we go, but before we fly back, there was time for a guided tour through Pisa and yes go up the leaning Tower of Pisa. I was like a child on Christmas morning, as 20years ago, we could not go up the tower, as they we doing the work to stabilize it. Already tilting when it was completed in 1372, the 56m white-marble cylinder is the bell tower of the Romanesque, striped-marble cathedral that rises next to it in the Piazza dei Miracoli.
Also in the piazza is the Baptistry, whose renowned acoustics are demonstrated by amateur singers daily, and the Caposanto Monumentale cemetery. It is an incredible feeling when they sing, the sound and reverberate through your body. It is one of the more simple buildings in Italian terms, but it certainly makes up for it in ambiance.
Our last lunch in wonderful Italy was at Nonna Rosa Trattoria and then it was back to the airport and back home.
Thank you to Mariam and Typically Italian for an amazing experience. As a 20 year old you see places differently, so to be able to go back and see the real David and go up the Leaning Tower of Pisa was incredible and see it through more appreciative eyes.