I had heard so much about the wonders and beauty of Florence from many of my friends. The shopping, the buildings, the sculpture, statue of David, the food-especially the gelato and the shopping had been touted as Florence’s gift to the world !!!
While not a particularly avid shopper I figured it was worth checking out. I planned on getting Christmas gifts for family members and thus justified my spree. Joanne was practically drooling at the thought of a day in this paradise! We took our ship’s tour bus from our port in Livorno-our tour guide was a delightful and knowledgeable young man who also highly recommended Pisa (his hometown ) as a worthwhile stop.
After driving about an hour through the magnificent Tuscan countryside we arrived and were taken to our meeting spot- The White House, which provided rest room facilities and a most generous discount on leather goods to tourists coming on this bus. All of the shops and keepers in Florence were most hospitable,pleasant and happy to provide discounts, when requested. There is not much English spoken but enough to conduct business. Clerks are not agrressive but genuinely seem to enjoy the art of selling.
After snapping up some wallets and small leather handbags for my nieces we went in search of an ATM to get some Euros. American money is not good anywhere that we went-Euros only or credit card is a few places.
We found lots and lots more leather goods, purses, jackets, boots, wallets,and also lots of jewelry. We invested in some silk Italian ties, beautiful wooden objects d’art painted to look like ceramics(unbreakable). We bought trays, pictures and other souvenirs to take for gifts back home. After busting our budget we started looking at duomos and architecture and spotted some truly unbelievable works of art. I was especially astonished at the wide selection of nude male statues on display in galleries outside the most famous duomos. The Italians do like their male nudes, I must say.
After picture-taking and shopping there was only one thing left on our itinerary…LUNCH!
We found an exceptionally appealing street-side café where the food and wine was, as we expected, to die for. After lunch we hit a shop called "Gelato Festival" and a festival for the senses it was indeed as we sampled possibly the best gelato in all of Italy.
A little more shopping and we were back on the tour bus with our packages and the knowledge that we had spent a worthwhile day sampling all that Florence had to offer.