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We just loved this hotel. They had a wonderful family suite that comfortably fit 5 of us. There was a king size bed on the first level and 3 beds upstairs. The 2 bathrooms came in very handy! Best of all was the rooftop pool. Too cold for adults, but the kids loved it. Oh... the views from up there were just lovely! We woke up one morning at 6am to enjoy the sunrise. It's something that I will remember forever.
2. The San Lorenzo outdoor markets near the Duomo
When you go to Europe - or any other vacation for that matter - with 3 girls, you know it has to include shopping. We gave the girls 30 Euros each and they were off and running. They LOVED the markets that are all over town. Tank tops, pocketbooks, gifts, jewelry - the girls gave the markets the "thumbs up!"
3. Il Latini
We had first seen this restaurant on $40 a Day with Racheal Ray. It lived up to it's hype. We showed up at 7:15 starving and waited on line until 7:30 when the restaurant opens. The gracious owners provided snack while we were waiting. There were large jugs of wine on the table that you pour yourself and the food is served family style in a electric atmosphere. We loved the meal so much we came back 2 nights later for a repeat!
4. 1/2 Day tour to Chianti with CAF tours
It's like being on a class trip - no thinking involved! You meet the bus by the SMN train station at 2pm and then go for an hour drive. You stop at a lovely winery in the hills and sample their wine sitting in a beautiful garden. Then you drive another 1/2 hour or so and visit Greve for about 45 minutes. It's not an "in depth" tour, but it's relaxing and pleasant! Funniest story of the trip was when I asked the tour guide if the children were allowed to drink the wine, she looked at me quizically and said, "they pay - they drink!" Love that story!
5. La Giostra
Our other favorite restaurant of the trip. You are personally greeted by the owner who was kind enough to give us complimentary appetizers and full explanation of them too. The food was amazing and the restaurant was charming.
6. Jewelry shopping on the Ponte Vechio
Since we are from New York which is the epicenter of jewelry in the USA, I didn't think I would find such beautiful and unique 18k pieces on the Ponte Vechio. The prices are fair although they are certainly not a giveaway. I didn't get anything there and as soon as I returned home I totally regretted it!
7. Saving 40 Euros by not visiting David
I know I sound like a tourist that doesn't have my prorities straight, but to spend 8 Euros per person to see a statue for 5 minutes didn't make any sense to me. Sorry if I offended any art lovers.
We took an easy 1 hour train ride to Pisa from Florence. Whether you are seeing the tower for the 1st or 10th time it's still a thrill. Took my holiday card picture there and added the following rhyme.
Greetings from Pisa where the tower is always leaning Hope your holidays are joyous and full of special meaning!
Feel free to use that on your card next year!
9. Fly nonstop home from Milan
Instead of taking a connecting flight home from Florence we opted to spend the last 2 days of our trip in MIlan. We stayed at the Hilton which is right by the train station. It is super convenient for arriving by train and departing by air. I reserved tickets to The Last Supper well in advance and was thrilled that we were all able to view such a masterpiece that is so timely now with The Davinci Code movie being released. Another Milan "must do" was to walk on the roof of the Duomo. We were surrounded by gothic spires 20 stories in the air - fun! The walk up the stairs to the top burned off a few gelato calories.