||| useless knowledge of florence | a travel guide |||

Florence Travel Tips & Must-dos

it’s been months since i studied abroad in florence; i’ve had a lovely time reminiscing for this post! it thrills me to be able to share this abundance of knowledge i have of florence. after many facebook message guides to friends abroad, i thought “if only there was a convenient way to collect all my favorite must-sees in florence!”. then i remembered: i have a blog.

the image above includes photos i took of my favorite florentine adventures. from my experience, i’d highly suggest you:

  • climb to the top of the duomo (florence’s cathedral) on a clear morning
    • better than giotto’s tower, in my opinion! the atmosphere is incomparable
  • hang out with the statue of david at galleria dell’accademia
  • browse the galleria degli uffitzi
  • marvel over palazzo pitti & boboli gardens
  • cross ponte vecchio (touristy but fun to see)
    • this is the bridge with all the jewelry merchants
  • visit piazzale michelangelo
    • great views of the city
  • santa maria novella church
    • while you’re there, check out the beautiful officina profumo farmaceutica
  • shop at mercato centrale (i lived near here)
  • take the ATAF bus #7 to the hilltop village of fiesole (gorgeous view of florence & tuscany)
    • it runs every half an hour until almost midnight. the line starts at the santa maria novella train station

…and on to my favorite food experiences:

  • breakfast
    • grab a pastry and espresso at any bar
  • lunch
    • mario trattoria | only open for lunch, so don’t miss out!
    • gusta panino | perfect for a quick sandwich
  • dinner
    • acqua al 2 | great meal with a dessert sampler
    • san michele all’arco | delicious homemade pasta
    • trattoria parione | the restaurant i enjoyed my final italian meal at before my journey home!
    • gusta pizza | grab a pizza and take it to piazzale michelangelo – no use waiting inside for a table when you can enjoy a nice view nearby!
  • apertivo (delicious italian appetizers served with the purchase of a drink)
    • kitsch | begins at 7:30pm | €7
    • negroni | begins at 7pm | €8
    • oibo | begins at 7:30pm | €8

florence is a horrible city to navigate (take it from the girl who wandered three hours dragging luggage on cobblestone streets)… so, I made you a map!
pull the full map (with key) up on your mobile while you have wifi & you can use it around the city!

if you have any questions, feel free to ask!
||| happy travels! | rachel |||

||| summer in chicago | taste of randolph |||

okay, i’m a little behind… but still had to share. how could i not with all of these amazing restaurants? below are our top pics from the taste of randolph this past weekend: thyme & oregano kettle corn from the tasting room, chips & and a hefty helping of quac from de cero, spinach arancini from marcello’s , tacos from belly q & a gorgeous view on the patio of city winery.
Taste of Randolph Chicago collage

||| travel tip thursday | la |||

statechurch

finally, a travel tip stateside! this tip is for those of you heading to la. we had read lovely reviews about church & state, a french bistro in central la, on yelp and had to try it for ourselves. below, you’ll see the bar area, pear & brie flatbread, le cachat, tarte aux champignons & escargots de bourgogne en croûte.

my apologies for the dark pictures, this was the first week with my new camera & we ate outdoors (highly recommended, weather permitting).

||| the stairs of italy |||

 

as i was reminiscing through photos from italy, i noticed an obvious theme: i (apparently) enjoy photographing stairs. it seems logical, they’re ideal subjects; almost perfect, they rarely move. i rounded up my favorites below (yes, these are the elite stair pictures, there are others). the descriptions are below the collection.

i was going to include a tacky “take the stairs to success” metaphor, but i’ll just leave you with interesting stair pictures.

stairs

||| inside the wall, lucca ||| into the vineyard, montepulciano ||| santa maria novella, florence ||| above our patio, florence ||| to the library, san lorenzo ||| pitti palace, florence ||| winding stairs, the vatican ||| ancient ruin stairs, rome ||| my favorite, the stairs to nowhere, pienza ||| down to a wine cellar, montepulciano ||| across a bridge, venice ||| winding down, san gimignano ||| the land of stairs, cinque terre ||| the most terrifying stairs, duomo of florence

||| Rachel |||

 

||| valentine’s day | my true love |||

happy valentine’s day! today is the perfect day to reveal my true love: restaurant week. this year, we tested out senza. amazing! senza is located in lakeview neighborhood of chicago. they offer a pre-fixed menu that varies by season; $100 for nine courses, $50 for four. senza is a perfect restaurant for those of you with celiac disease; everything on the menu is gluten free!

moving down (from left to right) we have: a picture of the modern interior, the commemorative restaurant week menu, parsnip soup, grilled lettuce, tagliatelle (with truffles), gnocchi, scallops, white chocolate & spiked apple cider dessert.

i’m trying to stray away from food posts, but c’mon, it’s food.

senza

||| have a lovely night! rachel |||

||| etsy city faves | san diego |||

EtsyCityFriSanDiego||| 1. simply pretty prints | 2. wide eyes design  | 3. arboriform | 4. mod docks | 5. salt farm |||

||| travel tip thursday | chicago |||

for those of you in the windy city this weekend, chicago restaurant week starts saturday! restaurant week is (besides the greatest idea ever) an ideal time to try out the city’s hottest restaurants through pre-set brunches, lunches and dinners at reasonable prices. here’s the list of participating restaurants.

also this weekend is randolph street market, discussed last summer here.

||| next door cafe | free & fun classes |||

ndcafe(photo via nextdoorchi.com)

a must share – fascinating concept! next door cafe, opened by state farm as a way to get closer to the community, offers financial coaching and fun instructional classes from brainstorming to yoga (and they’re all free!).

the café has coffee, delicious treats, rooms for meetings and a simple, modern design (what more could you ask for?!). today, i took a photography course, hosted by paulo saini and a healthy eating course, hosted by marcy e. cruice, earlier this month. both classes were beneficial and engaging, highly recommend glancing over the calendar of classes if you’re in the chicago area!

open 7am-10pm | 659 w diversey pkwy, chicago

||| travel tip thursday | rome |||

dinookay, let’s be honest… most food in italy is outstanding. however, i can recommend the obvious: avoid touristy places/menus with pictures. and, if you can muster up the courage to ask a local where their favorite trattoria is (in italian), you can’t lose.

between italian sentence fragments and hand gestures, we got directions to Hostaria Dino’s Express. they even have a hand-written menu that changes daily, though i’d suggest you take your italian pocket dictionary with you!

open monday-saturday for lunch | via Tacito, 80

||| buon appetito! – Rachel |||

||| reminiscent melodies |||

i adore this song by City and Colour (suggested by our music correspondent, jamie).

the changes in tone throughout the song tell a story. it reminds me of my time in europe. okay, that’s a bit vague; i provided pictures:

thegirl||| enjoy your weekend! – R |||