Honeymooning in Italy, Part 1: Florence

Way back in late May of 2018, Andrew and I went on our honeymoon to Italy. We planned the whole thing ourselves and had such a good time that I wish we could go back to Italy every year! A lot of people have asked me for details, and I've been meaning to blog about it ever since, but never found time to do it until now.

On May 27, we flew from Newark to Rome. Our flights were a dirt-cheap $450 on Norwegian.

We picked the lowest fare option, which meant we only had carry-ons and there were no in-flight snacks or drinks. But who needs peanuts when we were going to be feasting on prosciutto soon enough?

As soon as we landed in Fiumicino airport, we hopped on a train to Florence. We didn't spend any time in Rome because I've been there before, and it wasn't my favorite. I wanted the extra time in Tuscany instead.

Did we really save any money flying into Rome rather than Florence if you factor in the cost of the train tickets? We probably saved a couple of hundred total, and the train ride was an hour and a half. Ultimately up to you.

As soon as we arrived in Florence, we checked into our Airbnb, which was about a 10-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella train station. Florence was just as hard to navigate as I remember, and we were pretty sweaty by the time we got to our cute little Airbnb. I didn't take any pictures of the room, but I did take a very grainy picture of their gorgeous cat.

We were starving at this point, so we hurried to Trattoria dall'Oste for our dinner reservation.  As soon as I stepped off the train, I was ready to eat some bistecca alla fiorentina. It's a giant hunk of steak, cut from the loin of a special kind of Tuscan cow called Chianina, and the beef is usually hung for a longer period of time than the average beef before it's butchered. It looks like a porterhouse on steroids.

Seemingly every restaurant in Florence makes bistecca alla fiorentina, but I picked a place that was well-reviewed and was offering 20% off with a reservation on the Fork. Yay!

We opted for the three-course set meal, which included cured meats and cheese...

I may have lifted a few pieces of prosciutto before taking this...

the main event--a giant Florentine steak for two with roasted potatoes...

Seriously, this could've easily fed three

...torta della nonna (a cake made of two layers of pastry crust with lemon cream inside) for dessert, and a bottle of wine to go with everything.

While well-priced and tasty, it wasn't the revelatory steak experience that we were expecting. We made the mistake of telling them medium-rare when they asked us how we wanted our steak cooked, when we should've known that Florentine steak should always be rare. As a result, the outside of our steak was more like medium-well. Oops.

We waddled out of the restaurant very much stuffed, but wait--it was only 7PM and the night was young.

"What do you want to do?" I asked Andrew.

"Well, what are the options?"

"We could walk around. We could get gelato."

"Let's get gelato," he said immediately, reminding me why I married him. Our stomachs suddenly heaved, reminding us that we had just eaten a three-course meal of pig, cow, potatoes, and cake and that a walk would be required first.

So we walked across the river Arno, down darkening streets, past Italians eating dinner at their normal hour (aka too late for us), until we stumbled upon a piazza with the best vibe, Piazza Santo Spirito.

It featured this sweet church.

The church, which is the Basilica di Santo Spirito, was built in the 15th century and apparently features a crucifix carved by Michelangelo when he was only 17. Unfortunately, we did not go inside, but we did sit beside the fountain in the middle of the piazza and admire how local and authentic it felt. People came and walked their dogs right in front of this magnificent Renaissance church. 

After more walking, we arrived at Gelateria la Carraia, which I mostly chose because it was near the river and the flavors sounded interesting. 

Here's my cone with 1) white chocolate and pistachio and 2) ricotta and pear. Both were awesome. 

Here's Andrew's cup of 1) pistachio and 2) hazelnut. This was his first encounter with real Italian gelato, and it was love at first bite. 

We sat on the bridge looking over the Arno, eating our gelato and still in disbelief that we were in Italy.

Afterwards, we walked back across the river towards our Airbnb. The streets of Florence are pretty at night. 

Like this one
And also this one
We ended up outside the Uffizi and Palazzo Vecchio at one point.

I guess this is where everyone else decided to hang out.
The Uffizi looks extra impressive at night.

Finally we ended up along the river again and got our first glimpse of the Ponte Vecchio, home of way too many jewelry stores.

I think we spent two hours just aimlessly walking around with a stop for gelato in between, which was perfect for us.

We went to bed, ready to climb the Duomo the next day.

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