Frolicking Around Florence

After another 6 a.m. wake up call, so began another busy day in Italy!

We quickly dined on breakfast at the hotel before joining our group on a coach bus bound for Florence. We had hopes of catching some more sleep on the bus and busted out our blow-up neck pillows to help us get comfortable, but we were too excited to fall asleep. 

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That’s my “I’m frustrated that I can’t sleep” face. It also doubles as my “I smell a terrible fart” face.

On our drive, our bus took one pit stop so everyone could stretch their legs and use the restrooms. While at the stop, my family and I had a great time looking at all the neat items for sale including ginormous KitKat bars and massive containers of Nutella.

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That jar was as big as my head!

My sister and I then looked for our names on the Italian name plates, but came up a bit short.

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We also got a kick out of the Italian version of American movies being sold.

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One movie that went unchanged?

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FernGully! Well, the subtext changed, but the main title remained the same. Also, I think you all should know that Ryan secretly loves this movie… and that makes me love him even more. Smile

After our pit stop, snacks of Nutella and crispy, thin breadsticks were enjoyed on the bus before we were dropped off in the heart of Florence where we took some time to explore.

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We made our way through Piazza Santa Croce to Piazza della Signoria where we enjoyed looking at all of the sculptures and soaked in the scene before meeting up with a tour guide to learn more about Florence and see Michelangelo’s David at the Academy of Fine Arts.

Unfortunately no pictures were allowed, so the David went unphotographed, but I was really impressed. I didn’t expect the statue to be so big! It is about 13 feet tall and made of solid marble.

Here’s a photograph of the replica of the David found in Piazza della Signoria.

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I found it interesting to learn that Michelangelo carved his sculptures by beginning with the part of the body that reached out the farthest. He didn’t carve from top to bottom as you might assume, which was fascinating to me. I can’t even imagine carving anything to begin with, but if I did, I’d never start with a knee or an elbow that was jutting out. He really was a mastermind.

Our tour continued all around Florence and passed by Piazza del Duomo where we saw the massive Santa Maria del Fiore church, the fourth largest church in Europe.

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We toured the city for a bit longer with our guide before heading off on our own to shop and walk around.

Our number one priority? Find gelato!

I had notes from the suggestions you guys left me in the comments section of my first Europe post that lead us to Perche no!

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All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you. By far the best gelato I’ve ever had in my life.

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My entire family raved about their respective gelato choices. I opted for a combination of the chocolate mousse and mascarpone gelato flavors and mmm-ed out loud after nearly every bite. My mom’s tiramisu gelato was also unbelievable. If you’re ever in Florence you must go here!


Once the late afternoon turned into the early evening, we met back up with our tour group to check into our hotel and eat dinner.

We ate dinner at the hotel which was really good, but not exactly what I was hoping to do in Florence.

First course:

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Second course:

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Though being part of a tour group is wonderful in many aspects (you get to see so much and the transportation is a breeze), it’s also a bit frustrating at times because you’re at the mercy of your scheduled transportation and the group’s itinerary. When group dinners are scheduled, it’s hard to veer off on your own without having to take an expensive taxi ride to and from the hotel.

Since the price of dinner at many of our destinations is included with our tour, we’re trying to enjoy the planned meals as best we can, even though my sister and I were really hoping to eat food from hole-in-the-wall local favorite-type places. Fortunately tomorrow night is the last group dinner night we have on the itinerary and then we’re free to find all the delicious meals we can in Europe!

All in all today was another fantastic day in Europe!

Tomorrow we’re traveling to Venice for our last day in Italy. The Pope will actually be there tomorrow, too! Time to get to sleep so I can be chipper in the mornin’.

I hope you guys are having a fantastic weekend!

P.S. The Fashion page was updated today!


  1. says

    I totally feel what you’re saying on group dinners. When I was in Italy I went with a group of 20 other students and a professor from my university. We had to eat together at the same restaurant every night (we rotated restaurants every week) on a fixed menu. It was not ideal, but honestly any food you get there is amazing.


  2. says

    I love that you and your sister seem to be having so much fun together!! I always wished for a sister on family vacations. I mean I love my brother, but they’re just not the same 😉

    I feel like that jar of Nutella would need its own suitcase to bring home!


  3. says

    I’m totally with you on the scheduled dinner thing. My family and I took a 14 day bus tour around Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and it was WONDERFUL…but I disliked a lot of the scheduled meals included with the trip. I wanted to go off and eat at random local restaurants!

    That gelato. Oh my yum.


  4. says

    I love Florence! We spent our honeymoon there and have been back twice. Perche No is the BEST! Enjoy Venice … I would love to go there someday 🙂


  5. Laura says

    OMG I am craving Nutella and then you go and post that pic of the GIANT jar and I am now considering driving next door to Target to get some lol

    Glad to see you all are having a great time 🙂


  6. Justine says

    It looks like you guys are having a blast. Everything looks spectacular, it was fun seeing those movie titles in Italian. Oh the gelato looks heavenly.


  7. says

    I loved Ferngully!!!! That is such a great movie. I remember going and seeing it in the movie theaters when I was really young.

    Florence is absolutely beautiful – group dinners frustrated me when we went to Europe too, but thankfully we didn’t have too many of them!


  8. says

    Julie, I’m drooling over your gelato! I’m seriously considering going out to find some for myself RIGHT now. It won’t be nearly as good as yours, but it should hold me over just fine until I get to Italy! 🙂

    Your neck pillows remind me of all my train travels in Europe. I found that wrapping one of those around my neck was the only way to prevent waking up with my head on stranger’s shoulder!


  9. says

    You will LOVE Venice — it is magical! It was the first stop on our Italian trip last year, definitely a major highlight and a great introduction to Italy. I will say that eating in Venice can be a challenge. Most of the restaurants have almost identical menus, and the food is fine, but not terribly special. Almost everyone in Venice is a tourist, so all of the restaurants cater to tourists. But you’ll have no trouble finding good gelato!

    Interesting comments about the group tour situation. I planned our whole Italy vacation myself — 4 destinations, 11 days. It was a lot of work, but it went really well. A lot of people told me to just book a tour, but I like my freedom. Also, there is no way anyone in my family would get up at 6am on vacation! I guess it is a good thing we went the do-it-yourself route 😉


  10. janet says

    I am SOOOOOOO craving nutella right now: also Panna Cotta (“baked cream”) and Baci (hazelnut/choc = nutella as well!)
    …..all your amazing fault. 🙂

    hope you love Venizia!



  11. Holly @ The Runny Egg says

    Ok Ryan is awesome — I love Ferngully!!!

    Please ship that giant Kit Kat bar to me. Thanks.


  12. Kathryn says

    I’ve also done a trip with group dinners and agree, they aren’t ideal! But not to worry– the restaurant “Acqua al 2” that several people recommended for Florence (the one with the blueberry steak) also has locations in Washington DC and San Diego — a much easier trip to take, and the menus are the same!


  13. says

    I wish they let you take pictures of David. That’s one thing that I MUST go see! And obviously to eat some amazing gelato…that’s a reason in itself to travel to Europe 😉


  14. says

    My family and I went on a globus tour of Italy about 10 years ago. Based on all the stops you guys have had so far it seems like the same 12 day tour we did. If the restaurant in Venice is the same, you’ll love it! It was the best gnocchi I’ve ever had and the waiters totally made the experience. I have a picture of two waiters kissing both my hands with a delicious plate of gnocchi in front of me..only in Italy! Enjoy the rest of your trip!


  15. Catherine says

    Hi Julie,

    I hope you get this because I had to tell you about the BEST gelato place in Paris, France. I am almost positive that is one of your next stops of the trip. You need to go to Amorino.

    There are several locations around the city- so you have to try one! When my husband and I lived there we went almost EVERY single day for 6 months. I miss it just talking about it! 🙂

    Have fun!


  16. Florence says

    Hey Julie, I live in Paris and could suggest a few restaurants that aren’t too expensive with great food (although I don’t know any right next to your hotel). A great meal is worth a half hour walk or metro ride though, so let me know if you need suggestions!


  17. Florence says

    And referring to the comment above- Amorino is delicious, and their pistachio / speculoos icecream is unbelievable. HOWEVER, I think italy is the place for ice cream – Paris is the place for pastries!! You should go to Angelina’s on Rue de Rivoli for the most decadent hot chocolate of your life as well as incredible pastries – I recommend the Mont Blanc, their speciality.


  18. Amber K says

    WOW! Looks like such a blast. I must try real gelato sometime! They have it at the health food store near me, but I know it’s not the same!


  19. says

    ahhhhhhhh I am loving all of the recaps you’re doing of your trip! The sites look so incredible…. Can’t wait to see more of Florence! That’s too funny about Ryan and Fern Gully, too!


  20. says

    When we went to Ireland we opted not to do a tour group because we wanted to do our own thing. We also had two kids, so it wasnt group friendly haha.
    But I know that it can be very helpful to see so much!


  21. Amy says

    Even though seeing these places through your blog is nothing compared to the real thing I am loving it! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂


  22. Kristin says

    Julie so glad that you are finding time to blog and be able to share your vacation with us!

    Love the picture of you and your Dad—very sweet! I’m sure your parents are loving this time with both you and your sister!!



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