Travel on the Side

Monthly Archives: September 2017

To me, Milan is a bit like the Chicago of Italy. It has the skyscrapers, wide streets, and industry. It’s underrated, or maybe understated? I dunno. Sometimes in Florence I felt hemmed in by the buildings and the medieval alleyways–and of course, the hordes of tourists. In Milan, I had space and it was welcomed change. Milan can be done as a day trip, although overnight would be OK too. We had… Read More

You can’t go to Italy without sampling some wine, right? On our second day trip from Florence, we boarded a tour bus to escort us to up to the hills of Chianti country. Our destination: Castello del Trebbio, about a 40 minute drive from Florence. Here we toured a beautiful old castle – home to the wealthy Pazzi family during Renaissance Florence times. The Pazzi family were rivals to the well-known Medici… Read More

On our first day trip from Florence, we ventured off to enchanting¬†Venice. Chaperoning students can be a bit like herding cats, but by hook or by crook we all made it to the Firenze S.M.N. station in time to catch our train. And this is one of the (many) things I loved about Italy: high-speed train service. We were whisked away from Florence to Venice, going around 200km/hr. Travel time is around… Read More

So for all of June, Florence was hot…usually 90 Fahrenheit or above. Abundant sunshine and blue skies every day. And dry. Not a drop of rain…until my second to last night there. Rain moved in during the afternoon and all of the sudden the tourists were nowhere to be seen. It was weird. After three weeks of battling the streets and sidewalks of tourists and tour groups, they had disappeared. Piazza del… Read More

In Florence, my home base was near Santa Maria Novella, one of the many historic churches. This basilica seems like an underrated tourist site to me. Its close proximity to the samely-named train station means thousands of tourists must pass by it each day. It’s definitely worth stopping in and taking a look. The first weekend I was in Florence, it was one of the meeting points for a large and colorful… Read More

Palazzo Vecchio¬†(“old palace”) is the heart of Renaissance Florentine politics. Actually, it still functions as the heart of politics in Florence as the town hall. Located on Piazza della Signoria, the famous statue of Michelangelo’s David greets you at the entrance. However, don’t be fooled! It’s a replica. The original stands in the Accademia. Inside Palazzo Vecchio, it’s part art gallery, part history lesson, and part political intrigue as the seat of… Read More

Florence is known as a city of squares, from the famous Piazza del Duomo to the Piazza della Repubblica with its darling carousel. It where people gather, where they eat, where they shop, where they worship. My favorite square in Florence is Piazza Santo Spirito, located in the Oltrarno quarter. It’s maybe just a tad less touristy and the people-watching is great. Why do I like it? Well, for starters it has… Read More

I visited Florence in June for 21 days. It was hot. It only rained once. Most days wwere above 90 Fahrenheit and I was looking for shade. The center of Florence offers little green space. When you’re craving trees, it’s time to head to Boboli Gardens and nearby Bardini Garden for a relxing respite from the urban hustle and bustle (and the throngs of tourist groups!). Situated in the Oltrarno quarter of… Read More