Jam packed airports and busy motorways are the norm in Europe during the holidays. We usually avoid travelling on peak seasons but had no choice for our family vacation in summer 2011 due to Sophie’s schedule at nursery school. While folks lined up as sardines on the beaches, we explored Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance!
Friends warned us how summer in Florence is like Dante’s Inferno. I’m usually skeptical of such unsolicited advises as they’re always very personal and subjective. But, yes, during our almost two-week stay, there was a burning sun with 32°C-35°C temperatures every single day.
However, we actually didn’t mind the heat. There were gelato stands at every street corner to refresh ourselves and the narrow alleys throughout the old town were shaded by beautiful buildings. In addition, most establishments had air conditioning inside or ginormous parasols on the terraces. We also took refuge in our air-conditioned apartment for Sophie’s afternoon naps.
As we’ve been to Florence several times before, we didn’t feel the need to line up for hours to see Michelangelo’s David, Brunelleschi’s cupola at the Duomo, or walk around in the scorching heat to visit every monument and church in town. With a kid in tow, who, by the way, still has the attention span of a fish, it’s also not so easy. Though we did manage to say hi to Boticelli’s Venus in the Uffizi Gallery and visit a special exhibition of the Kremlin’s “treasures” at Palazzo Pitti. Sophie surprised us with her artistic taste as she literally said “WOW!” upon seeing the ceilings of both premises.
Spending almost two weeks in Florence gave us a more local perspective of the city. We simply enjoyed la dolce vita by sitting under the parasols of the terraces for an espresso break for hubby, a spumante break for me, and a gelato break for Sophie. But as there were hardly any playgrounds in the historical part of the city, what could be a highlight for a toddler? Well, riding the antique carousel at Piazza Repubblica every single day.
where to stay
Palazzo Alfani — ♥♥♥♥♥
Via Ricasoli 49, 50122 Florence
* Right in the heart of the historical center, opposite the Accademia that houses Michelangelo’s David, is this 16th century palace that still belongs to the Alfani family. We already stayed here before and didn’t hesitate to come back. But it’s not your typical luxury hotel, rather, Palazzo Alfani offers newly renovated, clean and spacious apartments at reasonable prices. At the time of booking, our rate was EUR 130 per night.
Our one bedroom apartment had air conditioning and was equipped with a full kitchen, including all utensils, plates, glasses, pots and pans. It also had a microwave, stove, coffee maker, kettle and oven. Palazzo Alfani is perfect for families or if you just want to have that much-needed extra living space. Plus, there was daily cleaning service!
Until my next post … take care!
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Read: Summer in Florence — What to wear