Florence: Pizza, Pasta, Gelato, Repeat

It’s hard to know where to begin writing about our time in Florence.  We were there for 3 weeks and it was glorious.

I had been to Florence before when I did my solo trip back in 2010.  Back then my friend Jessica Collie had introduced me via Facebook to her friend Gian who has a place in Florence.  He lives in Orange County and Florence.  Awesome life right? At the time I was visiting in 2010 he was in Orange County and let me stay in his Florence flat.  It was beyond generous of him.  Gian and I have remained friends over the years and when I spoke to him about my return trip with Peter and us possibly renting his place he said “yes, of course.”  Parts of Europe have been extra special for me as I retrace my steps from a single solo adventurer to now returning with my husband.  It’s a bit surreal.

While I was there I reached out to the some old cast members from my trip four years ago: Allie, Tyler, Brianna, and Luca.  I gathered some great tips from Allie and Brianna for restaurants.  Tyler was back in the States, but Luca was around so one night we visited him at Uncle Jimmy’s, the American bar he works at.  Uncle Jimmy’s is designed for American students studying abroad who want a taste of home.  There is American music, flip cup, karaoke, and bras hanging from the ceiling from students. Uh oh, parents. Warn your daughters studying abroad in Florence about Uncle Jimmy’s!














Peter and I were both really ready to stay put for ahwile.  We had been moving around at practically lightening speed so we welcomed the opportunity to have somewhat of a routine.

The first evening in Florence we went for dinner at a restaurant that Allie had recommended, 4 Leoni.  We hadn’t eaten all day because of the “Genoa drama.” If you read my previous blog post then you know I tried to buy food at the train station, but then almost missed the train. I digress.  So we were both hungry and excited to dive into some Italian food.  Allie wrote, “you must get the pear ravioli.” Sign me up.  Sadly we walked up and were told the restaurant was “fully booked.”

As we stood outside debating where to go next something unexpected happened.  A young waiter walked over to us that works at 4 Leoni and said he found us a seat outside nonetheless – the most sought after seat in the restaurant.

Less than two hours in Florence and the service-world flipped 180 degrees from our dining experiences in France.  I don’t want to say anything too disparaging about it, but pretty much on a whole, it was terrible.  I’m kidding, it wasn’t that bad.  It was worse.  Granted in France  we are in a country where we don’t speak the language so we expected to be challenged.  However, the French we encountered certainly didn’t make things easier despite our polite efforts and Peter’s attempt at French. That isn’t to say there are exceptions to the rule, but in our experience, the great service in France came mostly in times when the prices were great too.

At any rate, the Italians are glorious.  They have the best energy.  Smiling, helpful, and they actually want to explain the menu to you. With passion.  They almost sing and dance while they speak and they seem genuinely happy that you are there.  It was magic.  I ordered myself a Chianti (or two) and the pear ravioli and I was in Italian Heaven.

One thing that we thoroughly enjoyed and did a few times while we were there was walking up to Piazzale Michelangelo.  From our flat it was a bit of a hike, but the exercise felt great, and you are really rewarded when you get to the top.  The views are the best in the city, or at least I haven’t seen better.  You can take a bottle of wine with you, or whatever you prefer to drink, sit on the steps, listen to a local musician, and enjoy a really beautiful sunset.  It makes for such an instantly romantic date.  Although you certainly do not have to be on a date to enjoy it.  If you are lucky the entertainment might consist of more than just live music; you might get to see a proposal too! Like we did.














On our first visit to Michelangelo, we took the bottle of Veuve with us that we had purchased with the money my Aunt Ginny/Wyoming had given me.  We were waiting for just the perfect spot and this was it!  Thanks again Aunt Ginny.

















Here are a couple shots of the picturesque views you get to take.


























Florence is by far one of my most favorite cities to visit for many reasons.   You can get around so easily by foot, although there are crazy crowds in August that you have to manuver around or loose at a game of chicken with.  You don’t have to worry about taxi’s, trains, buses, unless you are visiting a neighboring city like Pisa or Sienna.  Additionally, I have found it to be one of the most, if not most, picturesque cities I have ever visited.  The energy of the city doesn’t allow you to be anything but happy.  The people are fantastic and the food is a constant party on your taste buds.

Ok so the food.  Peter and I really went for it while we were here.  It was all delicious from steak, to pasta to pizza, to gelato.  I will highlight my personal favorites.

My favorite apertivo spot was Kitsch bar.  Going for apertivo is an Italian tradition that is meant to be a pre-dinner drink with a light snack to stimulate hunger.  Sort of like happy hour in the states with more of an emphasis on the food.  Apertivo is typically finger foods that are set out buffet style from about 6:30pm to 9:00pm.  It is meant to be a small meal, but depending on the spread it can easily turn into your dinner.  Typically all you have to do is buy one drink which will cost about 10 euros and it’s all you can eat.  Kitsch had a generous spread that went beyond fingers food.  The vibe there could be described by the name Kitsch with the crushed velvet pink, purple, and zebra decor, eclectic music, and the hanging disco ball in one room and fancy chandelier in another.  Below are some of the food options.  A bit more than a light snack.

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For steak, I loved Acqua Al 2, not just because the food was delicious but also because it was unique to anything I had ever tried.  The feature steak is blueberry flavored and it was a whole different kind of meat perfection.  Plus our waitress was really helpful as the menu was entirely in Italian and she cheerfully helped us through it.

Favorite pasta goes to Osteria Santo Spirito which was a local recommendation from our guide on our biking wine tour.  This guy ended  up being super clutch.  As we were sitting down after our bike tour enjoying lunch I asked him what his favorite restaurants in Florence are.  The two he relayed to us ended up being our favorite meals which we enjoyed on our last nights in Florence.  He was about our age and we felt like he would be in our peer group if we lived in Florence. He gave us thoughtful recommendations that seemed appropriate for us as people, not just tourists. The vibe there was laid back, with some great music, great staff filled with mostly working albeit trendy professionals.  The pasta I ordered was different then I have ever had as far as consistency.  It was more dense and think, (al dente) meaning pile on the carbs, but worth it for sure.  We followed our meal with limoncello which is always a good idea.

















The winner for pizza was again a suggestion from our bike guide, O’Munaciello.   The pizza was fabulous.  The crust is doughy, soft, melt in your mouth good.  The pizza is thin so you are’t overstuffed, with the right amount of cheese and sauce  The other great thing about this place is the ambience.  It’s dimly lit with a candle at each table with a really comfortable and fun Italian vibe.  It’s a place to really go and enjoy a long meal in a great surrounding.

So lastly gelato.  Okay so Peter and I ate a lot of gelato.  Almost to the most of it being embarrassing to admit how much we ate.  Honestly we ate it everyday and maybe twice in one day on occasion.  I started to think I needed gelato rehab.  I would plan my days around it, think about it, worrying about it.  What is in that frozen Italian creation? A ton of goodness.  It was a tough one but, Gelateria Al Carraia was the winner for us.  Its a popular one too. The consistency was so smooth and creamy and some of the flavors would hit your mouth with the texture of whipped cream.  The flavors so identical to what you ordered regardless of the obscurity of your flavor decision.  To top it off the location is so great because you can walk across the street and sit on the Carraia Bridge, eat your gelato and have the Ponte Vecchio as your view.  Look out for my post on my top rated Gelato spots in Florence.













The following picture is of me attempting to avoid having gelato hanging from the sides of my waist due to the gelato-per-day ratio that was taking place.  If you are unsure of what I am doing, it is an attempt at yoga.


















Of course we took in all the walking sights such as the Basilica of Santa Croce, Bobali Gardens,  Palazzo Uffizi, and of course the surreal Duomo.  The following pictures are in that order.  It’s this Gothic Renaissance architecture around every corner that makes Florence such an impressive and beautiful city.  These monuments have been around since the 13th century.























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Other highlights were some of the tours we did.

We did a walking tour of the Uffizi Gallery.  The museum was built in 1859 under the Medici Family.  The Medici family is thought to be the leader in the Renaissance Era and Peter considers them the Godfathers of “Ballerhood.”  The Italian Renaissance, which marks the manifestation of the entire European Renaissance began in Italy in the 14th century, specifically in Florence.  It’s no wonder that after all these centuries later you can still see the beauty while walking the streets in a city that began a rebirth of the arts after the dark ages.  There really is something special about Florence and the long history of incredibly talented Florentines.

The Medici Family was not originally a family of royalty, but of extreme wealth.  The family did later marry into royalty.  The Medici commissioned the likes of Botticelli, Leonardo di Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael as their personal artists.  No big deal.  Lorenzo Medici took note of Michelangelo’s unusual talent and when Michelangelo was only 14 Lorenzo offered for him to move into the Medici palace and be educated with his own children.   Talk about a good invest. The Medici’s also did cool things like prep future Popes and invested heavily in herbal pharmacies after a plague hit the city.

Peter and I really enjoyed our guided tour.  We were taken around the museum and shown specific paintings and were given in depth information around each.  We each picked out our favorite.  Mine was the  ”La Primavera” by Boticelli and Peter’s was “Don Tondo” or Holy Family byMichelangelo

La Primavera is an allegory for Spring, considered the best season.  Venus the Goddess of love is located in the center.  On the left is Mercury, the God of the month of May.  He seems to be pushing away the clouds to encourage Spring to start.  The dancing women are the 3 Graces, representing love, beauty, and chastity.  Cupid is aiming right for them.  On the far right Zephyrus is taking the Goddess of Springtime as his wife. This only skims the surface of the story in this painting.  Every painting has a story.  I loved using my imagination to figure out what the artist was trying to evoke or say with his work.   I did make a fun correlation between Peter and I getting married in May during the Springtime.  : )

Peter’s favorite  was Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo which is still in its original circular frame.  This painting features Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and John the Baptist and a handful of folks waiting to be baptized by John.  The adoration of Mary and Joseph of Jesus is clearly observed in their eyes.  This painting displays the most tender looking figures that Michelangelo produced.  Peter liked it because Michelangelo was a master of the human form and the definition and levels of detail put on the bodies impressed him.  Some of his best work were statues, such as David, and you could see his mastery of the human form come out in the painting. It felt distinctively Michelangelo to Peter. Even when Mary and Joseph were draped in clothing you could see the elegance and detail of how the clothes fell against their bodies.

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Florence offers tours for just about anything relating to wine and/or food.  Biking wine tour, scooter wine tour, pizza baking, gelato making,  yoga wine tasting.  Ok not yoga wine tasting but that would be cool.  We participated in a few.

We did an all day cooking class with the company, Florence Town.  To my delight Peter decided to go with me.  Peter is extraordinarily talented in so many things.  His way around the kitchen is not on that list.  It was a wonderful class.  Our two instructors were hilarious, laid back, and did a great job teaching us how to cook.  They played great music throughout the course ranging from Italian to American.  At our table we had a lovely family from Canada with us.  I showed them my picture of the Kings walking around Hermosa Beach with the Stanley Cup.  I knew that showing them the picture was going to go one of two ways, but overall they seemed to appreciate the photo.  They are from Edmonton so the main reason they are ok with The Kings is because their beloved Wayne Gretzky played for LA.  Conversely do not get them started talking about Calgary Flames.  There is a strong and fierce rivalry between The Edmonton Oilers, where our friends are from, and Calgary.  If we were from Calgary, we probably would have had to sit at a different table.

From scratch we made tiramisu, pasta, ravioli,  and bruschetta and enjoyed some wonderful chianti throughout.  Momma Canadian, otherwise known as Lucy was telling us how the whole family – her, the Dad, their son and daughter enjoy dinner together nearly every night.  Momma Canadian is quite the chef and cooks up some fancy dinners for her crew.  I loved this concept.  The kids are young adults.  One just finished college and the other is attending college.  They were such a nice family and you could see that the parents have instilled great values in their kids.  I’m sure that quality dinner time was a contributing factor in doing that.  After we were done with all our cooking portion of the class we ate together and I thanked the Dubue Family for letting us in on what I imagine their family dinners are like.


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We enjoyed the class so much and the characters running the tour that we booked a pizza  and gelato making class for a couple nights later.  Below you can see how excited our Chef David was to see us again.













The pizza gelato course is an evening class staring at 6 and lasts about 3 hours so I figured it would be a fun date night kind of thing, which is was.  Again we made everything from scratch.  I’ve made pizza plenty of time at home but never starting with flour and water.  There was a couple girls from Chicago at our table, Christine and Valeria.  I instantly made friends with them because I hadn’t had any girl talk for about 6 weeks at that point.  I ended up inviting them to come have a drink with us after the class.  Our date night got crashed, but Peter was fine with it.  I was loving my girl time.  By the end of it I was helping Valeria plan her wedding and giving relationship advice to Christine.













The last activity we enjoyed was a biking wine tour through Chianti also done by Florence Town Tours.  Peter and I had learned a lot about wine while touring the French Countryside so we were eager with questions regarding wine and wine making processes.  This tour was not all that sophisticated and we probably looked a little snobby with some of our questions.  The instructor was a young guy and more of a really good biker as opposed to  a wine connoisseur.  I did learn that Chianti is comprised of mainly Sangiovese grapes.

We met a really sweet young couple from Perth, Australia that we spent a lot of the day conversing with and even has a chance to play bocce ball with.  At one point Brianna said to me that Peter and I “seemed really happy.” This was fun to hear because we were just being ourselves.

The bike riding ended up being quite strenuous.  There was a part that most people had to walk their bikes.  I am happy to report that I did not have to walk my bike and I was only accompanied by two other young men that were also able to take the uphill trek with their bikes.  I’ll take a win where I can get it.

At the end of the trip we were rewarded with wine tasting and lunch.  I enjoyed my time with my new Perth friends while Peter ended up being enamored with a a judge from Georgia were they dove pretty deep into a philosophical discussion on ethics, morality and life choices – Peter was in heaven.   All in all it was a great tour.  Riding bikes through the picturesque countryside of Chianti is a real treat on your eyes.

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After a few weeks and a tinge of sadness to leave Florence we were off to Morocco.


As always thanks so much for following and all the positive feedback from my Nice posting.  It inspires me to keep doing this.


All kinds of love,



  • Courtney Goodin

    This was my favorite blog to read so far from you!! I could taste the pear pasta and the blueberry steak as I ate at both of those restaurants and ordered those EXACT dishes when I studied abroad in Florence. Leave it to us to order the same dish as always:) So happy you decided to reside in Florence for a longer period of time, as there are so many beautiful things to see and amazing food to eat! Glad you got some girl time:) Miss our girl time and can’t wait to see you in December! xo, Court

  • Yes so glad we stayed in Florence too! It’s magical there as you know. Thanks so much for following along on our adventures. We will have so much to catch up on in December. Looking forward to some wine girls talks.