Florence in Two Days

Before going to Florence, I had heard numerous people praise it’s beauty and culture. Many stated that it was their favorite city in Italy! After two days there, I can certainly see it’s appeal, but I wasn’t as blown away as I was expecting. I guess I had just set my expectations too high.

I did make a rookie mistake and tried to get into the cathedrals with a tank top and shorts. This is NOT allowed. I had to buy a scarf from a nearby vendor and purchase a paper dress from the visitor store at the cathedral. It ended up making a rather nice outfit, but I could have avoided this inconvenience.

My last minute outfit to enter the #cathedrals in #Florence! #lessonlearned #remoteyear #travel #Italy

We also found a piece of Ohio in Florence. It appears that there is a branch of Kent State University right in the center of the city!

Randomly walking down an alley in #Florence and found this sign for #KentState! #Ohio #travel #remoteyear #Italy

Things we enjoyed:
  • Climbing to the top of the Duomo  – There were a lot of stairs to climb, but we made it to the top of this beautiful cathedral. If you are able to, I definitely recommend climbing to the top. It was a little unorganized unfortunately. When we were near the top, the up and down stairs are the same and there is not really enough room for two people to pass each other. After climbing to the top on a 90 degree day, this was a little bit annoying.

  • Opera di Firenze – The opera house was quite a ways outside of the city center, but I really enjoyed getting to see a different neighborhood. The opera house was very new and modern. It was a rather impressive facility in a lovely park. We saw a modern adaptation of The Barber of Seville by Rossini. It was an odd mixture of classical and modern elements in the staging, costumes, and sets.

  • Michelangelo’s David  – We waited in line for about 4 hours in the 90 degree heat and sun. I would definitely recommend buying your ticket in advance! It was worth the time to see. I hadn’t realized how large the statue was! I was surprised that the museum itself wasn’t larger, but there was plenty of great art to see.

Where we stayed:
  • Airbnb Florentia Santa Croce house  – My mom and I loved this two bedroom apartment. It wasn’t incredibly fancy, but had a fantastic location. It was about a five minute walk to the Duomo and to many of the other main attractions in the city. The host communicated quickly with us and provided great recommendations while we were in the city. It was very reasonably priced as well. Definitely check it out if you are in Florence.

What we ate:
  • Le Vespa Cafe – There are Vespa’s everywhere throughout the city. It seems only appropriate that there is a cafe with that name. We had a very filling breakfast here. Also, to our delight, they had frappuccinos for the summer. It had been so hot that we were dying to have very cold drinks.

  • Ditta Artiginale – I was so excited to find this coffee shop. We got this recommendation and many others from the Girl in Florence blog which I highly suggest reviewing before visiting the city. They really knew their coffee here. We had a fantastic iced latte and cold brew citrus coffee.

Loved the cold brew latte from @dittartigianale in this heat! Knowledgable, fun staff and an excellent vibe! #coffeeshop #Florence #Italy #coffee  #remoteyear

  • New’s Cafe – Even though this is right in the middle of a very touristy area, it is completely hidden and not crowded. The staff was very excited to share their cappuccino art with us.

Thanks to a recommendation from @girlinflorence!! Lovely spot and people without the crazy tourists. :) #Florence #Italy #travel #remoteyear

  • Gelato Perché no! – Thanks to a recommendation from a friend, we tried this gelato spot. It was fantastic! Definitely recommended.

Florence was a great stop on our quick trip around Italy. I definitely hope to go back and visit some day, perhaps out of peak tourist season though.

Upcoming Posts:

Visiting Eaton’s Locations in Italy

Milan and the 2015 Expo

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Prague Culture: Final Review

Prague has such a rich and long history and culture. I definitely recommend looking at this quick overview of the history of the Czech Republic to learn a little bit more.

Being a major city in Eastern Europe, there is a lot going on in Prague from art to music to theatre, etc. I was able to experience quite a bit while I was there for a month.

Art

The art throughout Prague varies greatly from medieval to contemporary art. I was able to make it to the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art and enjoyed it, however, I don’t feel that it provided the diversity and organization of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (or maybe I was just missing my neighboring museum).

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Here are a few additional pictures of my favorite art from the city:

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Music

There are concerts all of the time ranging from Electronic Dance Music to Jazz. I was surprised by the Jazz scene in Prague actually, I wasn’t expecting it to be so abundant throughout the city. We were able to attend the alt-J concert at Zlute lazne by the river. If you get the opportunity to go see a concert there, I definitely recommend it.

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Opera

When I was there, I was lucky enough to get in contact with an awesome couple who work at Prague Opera. I took a couple of lessons with them and had such a fun time improving my technique and musicality. I was their first English speaking student which was an interesting challenge. I really enjoyed working with them and was very sad to leave after only two lessons.

Prague Culture Update

They were kind enough to set me up with a very nice studio to practice. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect place to review their suggestions and continue to work through difficult pieces.

Prague Culture Update

I was also able to see one of my Prague voice teachers at the National Theatre in La traviata. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never seen the opera before, just bits and pieces in classes at BG. I loved the show, and certainly hope to be a part of it someday.

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

I can only hope that I make similar connections in future cities and countries!

Theatre

The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ) was all over the city in June. PQ is the “largest scenography event in the world”. The amount of interesting events was a little overwhelming and I wish that I was able to see more of the festival. I loved that this was going on in the city while I was there!

Prague Culture Update

Additionally, I was able to attend a show at the Black Light Theatre company. It was certainly entertaining, but felt a little touristy and maybe a bit overpriced at about $25. However, if you want a short, funny evening in the style of Charlie Chaplin you’ll enjoy it!

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

ARCHITECTURE

The architecture of Prague is beautiful. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the overwhelming amount of old world architecture had me more interested in the more contemporary and out of the ordinary options.

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Prague Culture Update

Prague was fantastic and so far Ljubljana, Slovenia has far exceeded my expectations. Although, having never heard of Ljubljana before I was accepted into Remote Year, I can’t say that my expectations were particularly high. 🙂

One of the participants on the trip put together a really great video summing up our time in Prague. Check it out here: Remote Year Month 1 

PragueGroupFinal

Up Next:

– Planning a last minute tour of Italy

– First look at Ljubljana