Italy, Day 8: Palazzo Vecchio

Initially, we wanted to go to Uffizi but the line was already very long even before its opening hour. We decided to check Palazzo Vecchio and to our delight, there was no line at all. Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and considered to be the city’s main symbol of civil power.

APRIL 19, 2019

Initially, we wanted to go to Uffizi but the line was already very long even before its opening hour. We decided to check PALAZZO VECCHIO and to our delight, there was no line at all.

Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and considered to be the city’s main symbol of civil power.

There were a lot of Renaissance chambers, paintings, and sculptures to see even with just the first area in Palazzo Vecchio.

In a small corner of the room was Studiolo di Francesco I. There was a sign beside the entrance that access would be momentarily suspended during the Secret Passages tour, and that just made us regret it all the more that we did not know about the tour before going here.

We were able to spot the secret passage entrance that was cleverly hidden with a painting and the key camouflaging the color of the painting’s frame and wall.

The next part of our visit was seeing tons of rooms that were absolutely beautiful and magnificently decorated. We read that some of the rooms were even done by Michelangelo and Donatello.

It took us more than 2 hours to finish going around and in the last part of our visit, we found out that they had an exhibit set up to showcase some of Leonardo da Vinci’s works, letters, and sketches.

The last area we visited was the Hall of Maps, which showcased maps and Mappa Mundi, a 6-foot tall globe from centuries ago.

Italy, Day 7: Winery Experience in Chianti

I had a coupon with Airbnb experience and because we had a half-day PM free time, I checked the previous day if we can go to a winery near Florence. Good thing we were able to find Mirko’s “Chianti In A Glass” experience (see more details here).

APRIL 18, 2019

I had a coupon with Airbnb experience and because we had a half-day PM free time, I checked the previous day if we can go to a winery near Florence. Good thing we were able to find Mirko’s “Chianti In A Glass” experience (see more details here).

We took a train going to Montevarchi Terranuova and from there, Mirko picked us up along with the other guests. Mirko shared that aside from Airbnb experience, he also opened an option for overnight stays in case tourists want to spend more time in his winery.

He started touring us in different parts of his land, and told stories on the history of wine along the way. He also shared the general process on how they grow the fruits needed for creating their wine.

After about an hour of touring us around, it was time for some wine tasting! He served us 4 types of red wine, which varied in the year each was produced. The older red wines tasted stronger but at the end of the tasting, I could safely conclude that I really do not like red wine. Not a fan of alcohol so only white wine and rosé (which was not included) are the only types of wine I like.

Each of us was also given a plate of cold cuts and cheese to pair with each serving of wine we needed to taste. My sister really enjoyed the dessert part.

Before we left, we bought a big bottle of EVOO to take home with us. Mirko’s company produces this aside from bottles of different varieties of wine. There is also an option to order by case/box and he can ship this out to your home country. The Austrian couple with us actually did this for their order of wine bottles.

Highly recommend this Airbnb experience as every cent was worth it.

Italy, Day 7: Fancying Florence

We were supposed to go to Florence Cathedral but their opening hour was different because of Holy Week. We bought tickets instead to Battistero di San Giovanni, which was just across the cathedral.

APRIL 18, 2019

We were supposed to go to Florence Cathedral but their opening hour was different because of Holy Week.

We bought tickets instead to BATTISTERO DI SAN GIOVANNI, which was just across the cathedral. It is deemed to be the oldest religious site in Florence. The architecture was interesting for me because it resembled an octagon. The interior was even more beautiful – from the statues to the golden ceiling artwork.

A visit to a popular museum was next in our itinerary but after almost 3 hours of lining up and still not near the entrance / ticket booth, we gave up and had lunch at McDonald’s. We had a train to catch up for our Chianti winery experience.

After that short but memorable Chianti trip, we went to TRATTORIA ZÀ ZÀ for dinner. Good thing our Airbnb host was able to get us a reservation 2 days before this. I got the risotto with saffron, zucchini, prawns, and truffle; while my sister ordered the risotto with curry and shrimp. Both were really, really delicious but I preferred my order as the better risotto. I don’t think I would be able to eat that same kind of heavenly risotto in PH, sadly.

Italy, Day 6: Back in Florence

Since we were back early in Florence, we visited Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, which was just across the central station. I read articles saying that this is not a top destination in Florence and that saddened me because this church was absolutely beautiful.

APRIL 17, 2019

Since we were back early in Florence, we visited BASILICA DI SANTA MARIA NOVELLA, which was just across the central station. I read articles saying that this is not a top destination in Florence and that saddened me because this church was absolutely beautiful. I’d say the best time to visit would be late afternoon because the sun rays that hit some of the stained glass windows reflected colors on the church’s floor.

There were more artworks and relics in the museum-like rooms outside the church.

Our last stop for the day was PONTE VECCHIO. The golden rays of the sunset gave beautiful, warm colors to the structures around.

We were too lazy to go out for dinner so we just grabbed a sandwich in the café beside our Airbnb building. We also bought homemade gelato from NON SOLO GELATO. What was interesting here was that most of their flavors change everyday so we did not eat the same flavors of gelato each day.