The second stop on our Honeymoon cruise was Liverno, Italy. This is the one stop where we decided to do a tour arranged through the ship. We did “Florence on your own,” which cost $99 per person and basically arranged for transportation back and forth to Florence. We did some basic investigating into the train system and it seemed a little complicated, so at the last minute we decided to pay the crazy price.
We docked at 8am but didn’t have to meet for our tour until 9am so we had a lazy buffet breakfast on the aft deck. At 9am we made our way to the meeting point, the main theater, and waited for our tour to be called. Once it was called, we were assigned a bus number and escorted off the ship in groups. Once off the ship we found our bus number among the long line waiting in the port, and once our bus was full, we were off! We had an English speaking guide who gave us some history about Florence during the approximately one hour bus ride, and she also handed out maps and gave us a good route to follow. Then she came around and talked to people individually about their plans for the day and answered any questions. The guide was great, and the information she provided made us feel a little better about the price of the transportation.
Before we got into the heart of Florence, our driver took us right by the Piazza Michelangelo, which overlooks all of Florence and also has a replica David statue (one of many in the city, we would find out). This was on our list of sites to see for the day, but since we slowly drove past it, we were satisfied and agreed we wouldn’t need to make the hike up on foot to see it again.
Once we arrived in the city, we got off the bus and were led in a group to Piazza di Santa Croce. Our meeting point was a leather shop, that no doubt partners with the tour guide to bring in tourists. Regardless, we were told we could use the restrooms in the shop at any point during the day, and asked us to watch a short leather demonstration. Mr. BFT and I silently slipped away because we were hungry and there was a pizza shop next door! I just had to have my first Italian pizza. We ordered a small pizza to share and then walked across the Piazza to a coffee shop, where Mr. BFT ordered a latte and I ordered a canoli the size of my hand.
After our snacks, we made our way to perhaps the most recognizible landmark in Florence, the Bascilica de Santa Maria del Fiore, aka the “Duomo.”
It’s a gothic style domed church and it’s size is just indescribably massive. While we wanted to see the church, it wasn’t on our agenda to climb the 400-some steps up to the top of the dome, but with Piazza Michelangelo now crossed off our list, we decided to go for it. I think it cost 6 or 8 euros each.
Climbing to the top of church built a thousand years ago is exactly how you would imagine – dark, cold, stinky at times, claustrophobic. Multiply all that by 10 when you actually are climbing through the dome.
It’s tough to look attractive when you’re sweaty and dying. But the views are worth it.
Going down took a lot longer than it did to get up, as it’s a one way path and we had to stop several times to let people by. My advice would be to do this as early in the day as possible, to avoid the crowds. It’s not an experience for the faint of heart, but I’m so glad that now when I look at pictures of the Duomo I can say I climbed to the top and survived.
Next we made our way to Piazza della Signoria, a popular square with many statues, including a replica of the David statue in the spot where the actual David statue was originally displayed. Since we knew we weren’t going to see the actual David, fake David was good enough for us. On our way, we walked past an Italian Disney store! Of course I had to stop in and make a purchase. I bought a shirt of Mickey and Minnie wearing Italian colors (You’ll see it in future installments of this Honeymoon report), and a souvenir bag.
By this time we were ready for a proper lunch. My friend Chandra of Oh Lovely Day recommended a couple restaurants and we happened to walk past one, Il Gatto e la Volpe, on our way to the Duomo and made a note of it. We went back and had a massive lunch. Aside from wine, we ordered the large antipasto plate that had about 20 different finger foods, all drenched in olive oil. Amazing! A highlight of the entire trip. Mr. BFT ordered the lasagna and I ordered pesto gnocchi. I was so sad I couldn’t eat more than a couple bites of it because I gorged on antipasto. Arrrgh, it was so good. We also bought a bottle of their house made balsamic vinaigrette because it was so amazing.
Leaving the restaurant, we couldn’t believe our time in Florence was nearly over. Even though climbing the Duomo was awesome and totally worth it, it ate up a large portion of our day. We had to admit to ourselves we couldn’t see the Bobali Gardens that I was so looking forward to.
The last thing we had time for was a visit to the Ponte Vecchio bridge. I wanted to see the “Lovers Locks” that have been accumulated there, but I was sad to see the locks were completely cleaned up, save one or two that must have been very recent.
We crossed the bridge and walked along the other side of the river until we reached Ponte alle Grazie, which would take us back to our meeting point. But before we left, we had to get some Italian Gelato! We stopped at Gelateria dei Neri and got two scoops to eat while walking back to Piazza de Santa Croce.
While waiting for our group we perused the wares of the artists lining the Piazza and I found one I was really drawn to, so we bought a small piece of art – a drawing of the Florence skyline. I also found a small coin purse inside the leather shop that was only 5 euros. I couldn’t resist! I found out after I made the purchase that they would also stamp my initials with gold leaf. They do it old school, and it was so cool to watch! I may have annoyed my fellow bus passengers because everyone was waiting on me, but the ship can’t leave without us, so, so what.
When my very important gold leafing was complete, we walked back to the bus and drove through Piazza Michelangelo again, and then started the hour long trip back to the port of Liverno. Driving through the Tuscan countryside was incredible. It’s basically rolling hills and buildings that look like castles and constant vineyards – just how you would imagine it.
Back on the ship, we had dinner reservations at Cagney’s Steakhouse! The food was really good and I lust after those cheesecake pops to this day! I’m happy to say they make one more appearance in the honeymoon recap so stay tuned.
This was the first night we didn’t feel jetlagged, so we decided to check out the casino after dinner! Here is Mr. BFT playing the Pink Diamond machine because it was next to the one I wanted to play. As long as the complimentary drinks kept coming, he didn’t care.
But be careful – A few free drinks at the casino will leave you acting like fools on the Promenade.
And with that lovely image, I’ll stop here. The next chapter is all about our day in Roma! Ciao!
Past Honeymoon Posts:
Chapter 1 – All Aboard the Norwegian Spirit!
Chapter 2 – Barcelona, Spain
Chapter 3 – Toulon and Bandol, France