Tuscany: Florence and Faenza

Travel Society Magazine  readers have read in the past of my quartette of Traveling Women. Since the 1990’s we’ve traveled almost every year. We skipped the year of the new hip for one, the year of the new knee for another. One original retired and a new member/old friend joined.

Florence, Tuscany

Together we’ve hiked, barged, crossed the Atlas mountains of Morocco, sailed the Nile, and safari-ed!   2012 took us to Tuscany. A glimpse through a magazine brought www.Italyperfect.com, a company run by two American sisters, Lisa and Pat Byrne. From their website we chose an apartment in Florence on very central Piazza Santa Croce.

On arrival, Italy Perfect’s Cecile showed us our comfortable two-bedroom, two-bathroom lodging.  We soon found excellent dining right on Piazza Santa Croce at Boccadama.  We also found Ristorante Alfredo sull’Arno near the far end of the Ponte Vecchio.  We put many kilometers on our sturdy walking shoes walking up to the church of San Miniato al Monte for that spectacular view of famed Firenze.
We joined a walking tour filled with history and sights, including Florentine ice cream and finishing within the Accademia where we could stay on to admire David and a pop art David in lurid pink.

One morning we boarded a bus tour to see Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa with lunch at a farm which produced all the elements of a fine meal, complete with wines.

Uffizi Gallery

Both tours were purchased through our travel agent before we left Canada, but would be easily booked locally. Entrance to the Uffizi Gallery, however, is best booked in advance online. We spent at least 4 hours there before becoming saturated, and not seeing it all. Does anyone ever see it all?

At the end of each busy day we were happy with our comfortable apartment. Usually having dined out, we could eat late, light suppers and rise refreshed to coffee and breakfast in the well-equipped kitchen.  Groceries were available at a supermarket, CONAD, within a short walk.

As planner, I had studied a map and chose Faenza as our second city. It’s a quiet non-touristy small city famed for its beautiful ceramics, and suitable for excursions into the surrounding countryside.