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We are now half way through our four week stay in Florence. When we were planning our trip we knew that we wanted to stay somewhere for an extended period of time, not to be just tourists but to see what everyday life in Italy was really like. Thank goodness we chose Florence.

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Our spacious apartment (by Italian standards) is located about five minutes from the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, the gateway to the old city. With so many museums and galleries within walking distance we decided to buy an annual museum pass enabling us unlimited entry whenever we pleased.

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As the weather hadn’t really been on our side the first week of our stay with light rain most of the time (normal for this time of year) a few hours in a gallery has helped fill our days. We’ve seen what seems to be hundreds of sculptures and paintings, the highlight being the incredibly impressive Statue of David. Unfortunately inside all the museums there are these grumpy old Italian women who yell at you if you try to take a photo.

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On a rare sunny day we went for a beautiful drive through the Tuscan countryside and visited hilltop towns including San Gimignano, Volterra and Monteriggioni. We plan to go back to the countryside and stop at some of the wineries and olive plantations along the way to sample some produce.

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Another day trip took us to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, once again a surreal experience after seeing the iconic Italian building in books and TV over the years. That that afternoon we walk around the wall of Lucca.

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Overlooking the town of Lucca

Overlooking the town of Lucca

The boys have been fortunate and have attended a few football games and Ben is even training with a local team, having the real italian soccer experience.

Oh Fiorentina

Oh Fiorentina

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Bret and Ryan also managed to get in a day’s skiing at Abetone.

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When we are not venturing out of town, we fill our days with walks into town, shopping (mostly window shopping), watching the Winter Olympics at a reasonable time and of course food. While the variety of food is limited compared to what is available at home, everything tastes so good. Fresh pasta, bread, salami, cheese and of course pizza. Most of the food is produced locally, nothing is processed. While I struggled at first with the lack of variety, I have since gotten used to it and now enjoy the simplicity of our meals.

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Parking in Florence is a problem. There are very few free car parking areas and the garages are very expensive. The solution has been to leave the car at Michelangelo Piazzale during the day and than move it to a free space from 8pm to 8am. This has turned out to be a nice ritual each day that is rewarded by a fantastic view over the city. Each day it tends to be different.

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So glad we have another two weeks in Florence, still so much to see and experience here.

This featured blog entry was written by AllisonP from the blog leave of absence.
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By AllisonP

Posted Mon, Feb 17, 2014 | Italy | Comments