12 May 2009

Bella Italia!

We have just returned from a 5-day trip to Florence, our first trip there. But perhaps not our last?

Unfortunately, I got sick on the way down to Florence (making for a very fun ride!), but at least we had decided to splurge on the hotel. If you are going to be sick on vacation, you may as well be sick in a 5-star hotel.

I saw a lot of this view for the first couple of days: 
The worst thing about being sick was that eating gelato was a risky thing. So unfair! But at least I could take pictures. And when I was feeling better, I made up for it!

Traveling with a baby made the trip very different from past trips we've done as we tried to keep with Global Baby's schedule as much as possible. Which meant we frequently ate in empty restaurants!
I do not know what kind of schedule Italian babies keep, but it definitely wasn't lunch at 11:30 am and dinner at 5:30 pm! Fortunately, the Italians LOVE babies. We had restaurants that allowed us to come in before they were open so we could feed Global Baby and also eat ourselves!

Which also meant that the restaurant staff had more time to come by and play with the Bella Bambino!

In keeping with a baby's schedule we went back to the hotel every afternoon for a nap. A habit I highly recommend, whether you are traveling with a baby or not! When we would go back out again, we felt refreshed. And bore no resemblance to the other tourists who stumbled about the streets in an accurate imitation of zombies in the late afternoon.

We also kept to Global Baby's schedule when touring the sights. We had pre-arranged our tickets to the Uffizi and Accademia museums, cleverly scheduled for morning nap time, which meant we could bypass the incredibly long lines at both locations. With a sleeping baby, we calmly strolled through the museums and looked at our leisure. Although because of the sleeping baby, we did need to keep moving. Otherwise baby was no longer sleeping! And we were limited to about an hour in each museum.

By the way, museum guards also loved the Bella Bambino. As evidenced by the fact that I was always ushered quickly past the security gates (without having any type of search or scan at any of them, which surprised me) with all the guards grinning at Global Baby as we went.

And we did manage to see quite a lot even with a baby and the fact I was sick for the first 3 days of the trip, such as...

Michelangelo's David at the Accademia. Pictured below is the copy of David standing in front of the Palazzo Vecchio (also called the Uffizi), it's original location. Photographs of the actual David are strictly forbidden and enforced by a small army of guards.

The exterior of the Duomo. Unfortunately, the Duomo has a dress code, which we did not meet as GLH was wearing shorts and my skirt was above my knees. Although we likely wouldn't have gone in anyway as the line was too long to wait with a baby. (Remember the "keep the stroller moving" rule!)

We also walked across the Ponte Vecchio on the way to see the Palazzo Pitti.

The Ponte Vecchio was built as a covered bridge to connect the Palazzo Vecchio and the Palazzo Pitti. The walkway is on the upper floor while the money-loving and practical Medici's rented out the space on the ground floor to jewelry stores. To this day, all the shops on the bridge are jewelers. Nice to look at. Too much money to buy!

We also strolled about the streets, just taking in the sights and atmosphere.

There only two things that made Florence somewhat less child-friendly. The extremely narrow and poorly maintained walkways that made it difficult to push a stroller. (The Bugaboo would have handled the walkways better than the Maclaren, but would also have taken up more of our car's luggage space!)

The second is that green spaces were very difficult to find. And if you did find them, they were either not particularly green or may as well have been named "Needle Park." Or they cost 10 euros per person for admittance!

On our last day in Florence we discovered the park just to the north of the Fortezza. A bit out of the way, but worth it when baby needs sunshine, fresh air and a break from the stroller!

Although you do need a wet-wipe handy to pick up all the cigarette butts before setting baby down!


DrSpouse said...

I'm very jealous! Looks like you had a great time, shame you couldn't fully appreciate all the gelato!

Expat Traveler said...

I just loved this post... Besides baby GL being so adorable! My fav pic was by far Ponte Vecchio...

How much fun and then again, pains of wishing I was back in Europe! :)

CanadianSwiss said...

I think Florence was my first trip to Italy years ago but I absolutely loved it. However, after a week of sightseeing (mostly museums), I was happy to return home. I think I had a cherubs "overdose". LOL.

Marcy said...

I loved Florence... was our last trip before Donovan was born. =)

Tanya said...

OOO great post (although not so great you werent feeling the best!) we are planning a trip to Italy at christmas (we are practising for the cold with a trip home to NZ in a few weeks) so your pics were fab!!