Ahh Italy! Since visiting Rome all those years ago, I’ve been dying to explore more of this beautiful country. So when my girlfriend said she would be in Italy for 2 weeks, I thought it was a great opportunity for a weekend trip! We met up in Florence and I sneaked in some time in Pisa as well. Come explore these two cities through my favourite moments (and some insider tips)!
1. Leaning with the Tower (of Pisa)
Seeing an iconic landmark is truly something special…but watching people take photos of themselves holding up the Tower is hilarious! I had lots of fun people-watching at the Tower, and also taking a few cringe-worthy photos myself. Afterwards, we walked up the 296 steps to the top to enjoy the view, and what a view it was.
- A day in Pisa is probably sufficient as it’s a pretty small town.
- Pisa is really well-connected by train and cheap to fly into. To get to Florence, we flew into Pisa the night before and caught a 1-hour train to Florence (which only cost us €9 one-way).
Warning: Vegetarians and vegans, please look away! Pictures of gigantic meat ahead.
2. Devouring Fiorentina steak
In Florence, I was introduced to the most EPIC steak I’ve ever seen in my life… the Bistecca alla Fiorentina or Florentine steak! Undoubtedly one of Tuscany’s most famous dishes, legend says that visiting English merchants tried it and cried for more “Beef steak!” – and the name “bistecca” stuck.
The bistecca is a truly impressive sight to behold – thickly-cut meat, averaging a whopping 1-1.5kgs, grilled over a charcoal fire and finished off with olive oil and generous sprinkle of salt. Ladies, unless you haven’t eaten all day, these steaks are best shared! We went to Il Latini and enjoyed our steaks with a delicious bottle of Tuscan wine.
Heads up though… The meat is served pretty rare but surprisingly, I didn’t have an issue with it. It was really lean, tender and super tasty, without that “raw meat” taste or chewy texture. This is a definite ‘Must Do’ when in Florence!
3. Soaking up Renaissance art and culture
If I asked you to name a famous artist, chances are names like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael would cross your mind. These renowned artists all lived and worked in Florence, literally carving and painting their masterpieces into the walls of the city. You could spend hours wandering through the many museums, galleries and churches Florence has to offer. Some highlights include the Accademia and the Uffizzi as well as The Church of Santa Maria Novella.
- Make sure you book online to get priority access to popular sites like the Accademia and the Ufizzi. Queues are notoriously long and can take up to 2 hours to get through!
- This article is a great resource if you like to read a bit of the art’s backstory.
4. Visiting Italian celebrities
Only thing is, they aren’t alive. At the Basilica di Santa Croce, you can see the final resting place of the most notable Italians in history. Some of the ones I recognised were Michelangelo, Dante (author of the poem ‘Dante’s Inferno’), Machiavelli (whose book ‘The Prince’ inspired the term ‘Machiavellianism’), and Galileo (who insisted that the earth revolved around the sun). Italy sure has produced a lot of very famous people.
5. Seeing Florence from above
Florence’s Duomo (Italian for cathedral) is the grand Santa Maria del Fiore. Not only is it an incredible piece of architecture, it’s also a great museum. For €15, you can see the Cathedral, Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giotto’s Bell Tower, the Baptistry of San Giovanni, the Crypt of Santa Reparata and the Opera Museum.
- Consider spreading out your visit and climb up the Bell Tower on 1 day (414 steps) and the Dome on another (463 steps). Or do them both in a day and get a great workout!
If you’ve visited Pisa or Florence, share your experiences with us! And if you want more information about the places I went to, drop me a comment below.