I say everyone should visit Italy once, but once you visit Italy you just can’t wait to go back for more. However Italy was not at all like I expected. I had this romantic notion of large clean minimal streets soaked in light.
When in fact Italy is full of narrow winding streets opening on to squares buzzing with people. The atmosphere is busy and electric and the culture is part of the air that you breathe.
During our visits to Italy I have always felt like I don’t know where to look first. And sometimes the only option is to find a street cafe, sit down and enjoy people watching.
I remember the boys being mesmerized in Naples and someone hoisted their shopping up 4 floors by a pulley. And how the locals managed to hang the washing out high up across the narrow streets, almost like something out of a fairy tale.
How we all felt emotional putting a penny in the Trevi Fountain in memory of Chris’s beloved Granddad who always hoped to go back and put a penny in, but never made it.
His penny got there in the end and I am sure he was smiling down on us at the time. It was one of those moments when you can’t find the words, when it’s better not to speak. Combined with the breathtaking beauty of the Fountains it is a moment none of us will ever forget.
Every corner you turn there is something different to see, a cool vintage car, scooter, or a pretty flower stall. It really is the perfect place for the romantically minded.
Of the places we have explored in Italy, one place we have never visited is Florence.
When the lovely people from Hotel Brunelleschi, a beautiful hotel in Florence that embodies all the finest characteristics of Italy asked me about my what I would most love to do on our first trip the city, I had to really think about it. There is so much I want to do!
The first question is with or without the boys?
I have romantic visions of Chris and I wandering the streets with all the time in the world. Stopping for the occasional glass of wine and people watching. But the boys would be livid. They love Italy; they adore city breaks and exploring new places.
Italy is a wonderful place for families to visit together, with family life being a huge part of Italian culture. But I do still crave that romantic break. So maybe 2 trips is on the cards?
With or without the boys on tow, here is my top Florence wish list.
I want to marvel at The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. Construction on the Cathedral started 9 September 1296 and took 2 centuries to finish. Arnolfo di Cambio started in 1296, and the dome was added in the 15th century on a design of Filippo Brunelleschi. A statue celebrating each great man can be found just outside the cathedral, both positioned so they can stand admire their work for eternity.
Joe has been learning about Michelangelo at School and is fascinated by him and his works. I would love to take him to visit David at the Accademia Gallery.
See an Opera, this is something I have always longed to do. This is probably one for the romantic weekend. But the emotion of the opera seems just incredible and what better place to do, than in Florence.
Wander along the Piazza della Signoria and Ponte Vecchio. This could take a whole day, wandering the streets, taking pictures and sipping wine in street cafes whilst the boys enjoy a frothy milk shake and we all watch the world go by.
Lastly, a simple pleasure, but something we love to do and that is eat Pizza. The boys aim to do this in every Italian City we visit. Thus far Naples is a clear winner. But hopefully Florence can take the award for best Italian Pizza.
Italy is a Country so close to my heart; we have created so many lovely memories there with our little family from the boys being really small. I know it is somewhere we will never get enough of, and have many more adventures ahead of us.
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