Tag Archives | Florence

Romance Ruined in Florence

A little known secret of marriage, when the pastor says the words, “till death do you part,” he doesn’t tell you this could include your life being threatened if you don’t watch your bride’s favorite movies as a newlywed. My bride is a heartless romantic. She is obsessed with the classic tales of girl meets guy, girl hates guy, guy decides he likes girl, girl then decides she likes guy. This includes “Gone With the Wind,” “Anne of Green Gables,” and “Pride and Prejudice.” I spent the first year of our marriage being forced to watch all of these films or face a lonely night. This included Luci’s most coveted chick flick, “A Room with A View.” I loathe a “Room with A View” as I had to relive every annoying detail of this movie on our first trip to Florence, Italy.

The grand dome in the distance. Florence lives up to its reputation.

The grand dome in the distance. Florence lives up to its reputation.

For those of you that have not had the privilege of watching the show 256 times, a brief synopsis is in order. Set in Edwardian era of romance and properness, the heroine Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) and her chaperone Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith) travel from dreary England to sun-kissed Tuscany.

During their stay in Florence, Lucy meets a quirky, yet ruggedly handsome young man named George Emerson. George pursues Lucy and passionately kisses her in the Tuscan countryside. Yada, Yada, Yada Lucy gets yanked away from George and goes back to England. She then gets engaged to boring Cecil (Daniel Day-Lewis) until George’s Dad rents a nearby flat and George kisses Lucy again. Yada, Yada, Yada. Lucy breaks up with Cecil. The movie ends with George making out with Lucy overlooking the Duomo with their “Room with a View” in Florence and groping her. This is the only part of the movie, I like.


So how did all this ruin our trip to Tuscany?

Well, it started on where to stay. Of course we had to find a hotel with a sweeping vista of the Arno.   We needed the bay window that opened up to the city. We needed to schedule a nearby clock tower to ring at the exact moment that we kissed and arrange for some white doves to be released below. We did some research on this website for hotels in Florence.  Quickly, we realized that our caviar dreams would not be realized on our peanut butter budget. We settled for a B and B within walking distance of the Arno. Our room had windows…they just didn’t open.

Once we checked into our abode, it was off to see the city and systematically retrace every movement of George and Lucy. While I talked my Luci out of reenacting all the scenes, we did see some of Florence’s best sights.

Take it to the Top

Forget a room with a view of the Arno, do not miss the view from the top of the Cupola del Brunelleschi. Our first stop in our grand Florence adventure was one of the most recognizable sights in all of Florence: the Duomo. Its iconic red roof rises 142 feet from the ground. The dome is an engineering marvel. It is larger than the domes of the US Capitol, St. Paul’s in London, and even St. Peters in Rome! Impressive! There is only one-way to the top: the stairs.

A view from the Cupola del Brunelleschi. Worth the hike to the top.

A view from the Cupola del Brunelleschi. Worth the hike to the top.

The journey is not for the faint of heart. The stairs are steep, cramped and crowded.   Is the climb worth it? YES! The view of the city from the lofty perch is not to be missed.   The view on the inside is equally as impressive. Giorgio Vasari treats you to an up-close view of a fresco and Federico Zucchari called “the Last Judgment.” Both heaven and hell are presented in very graphic displays. I was just glad that my “Luci” didn’t push me over the balcony and trade me in for her own “George.”

The Bridges

Another of Florence’s icons are her many bridges over the Arno River. Perhaps the most famous is the Ponte Vecchio. The pedestrian-only bridge is actually the home of historic gold and jewelry traders.   We spent some time trying to find something that we liked and could afford. We were ultimately unsuccessful. Prices are much higher than the quality of the craftsmanship.

The less than impressive Ponte Vecchio.

The less than impressive Ponte Vecchio.

The bridge also has a secret. It secret elevated walkway served as a passageway between the Medici palaces on each side of the Arno River. It allowed the rich and powerful the ability to cross the creek without coming in contact with the unwashed masses.   The Ponte Vecchio is the only Florence bridge that survived World War II intact.

Go See “the Junk”

Forget Cecil or even George…tourists flock to see one of the most famous “pair” in the entire world: David’s! The statue of David is housed in the Accademia Gallery.   While visiting the Accademia is a must, our favorite museum in Florence is the Uffizi Gallery. The Uffizi is housed in an old Medici palace along the Arno.   The family was a great patron of the arts and their collection rivals only the Louvre in Paris. A full day tour of the exhibits is barely during the place justice. All the greats hang on the walls here: Duccio, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Raphael and they even have a few Rembrandts. The museum actually has two museum stores, one as you go in and you guessed it, one as you go out. Both have great guides and art books about the collections.

Take you postcard picture at the Piazzale Michelangelo.

Take you postcard picture at the Piazzale Michelangelo.

The Postcard Place

There is one place not to be missed for taking the quintessential Florence Photo: Piazzale Michelangelo. The views of the Florentine skyline from the park cannot be beat.   You can get great photos of: Santa Croce, the Duomo, and the many bridges on the Arno. A word of warning: you are not going to be alone. Throngs of “Lucy Honeychurch” worshipers converge on the Piazza at dusk. For good reason, sunsets from the very top of the park are simply priceless. The light on the red rooftops of the city creates a soft focus postcard worthy picture.

Florence US Cemetary

Florence US Cemetary

Florence American Cemetery

One of our favorite Florence sights isn’t in the city. The Florence American Cemetery is located a few miles south of the city, and is one of the most beautiful cemeteries and tributes we have visited in our travels. There are more than 4,400 service members interred in the 70 acres. Most of those buried gave their lives after capturing Rome during World War II. The day we visited, there was a light fog that made the entire setting hauntingly beautiful.   The fields are filled with lines and lines of white crosses and stars. The grounds keepers were very helpful in sharing the history of the cemetery.

The Finale

If you follow the Fighting Couple, you know our second favorite thing to do in Italy is to eat gelato! Florence has a number of fine establishments that offer this delectable treat. We usually have one shop that we highly recommend, but candidly we ate at a handful of different locations and didn’t have a bad batch. Go figure. Around the bell tower there are a number of really good offering.   Send us a picture!

Romance in Florence

With tempered expectations, Florence is and will continue to be one of the most romantic cities on the globe. Watch the movie, but make your own story in this city for lovers.

A Room with a View

We need your help.  So we were fighting the other day.  You have no idea how many times we have said that!  But then again you are on this site.  We were having a “discussion” on which of our fave hotels had the very best views?  Hotel rooms are just that to us, rooms.  What is important to us is what you can see from the room.  Great views are travel porn.  One of Luci’s all time fave shows is “A Room with a View”.   In this “chic” flick, the heroine Lucy Honeychurch and bumbling chaperone Charlotte Bartlett find themselves in Florence with rooms without a view.  In the end, she gets the man, and they get a room, oh and it has a view.  As a result of this show, as we travel one of key requirements is an amazing view.

Our four contenders are:  Conrad-Istanbul, Hiton-Nice, Cavalieri-Rome,  and the Fairmont Zimbali Lodge-South Africa


This is an amazing property!  It lands overlooking the mighty Bosporus.  (click on the pic below to get a better feel of the immense view)  You can see two continents (Europe and Asia) with this view! How many hotels can claim that?    The unique shape of the hotel makes for views of some amazing land and seascapes. What makes this hotel’s view special is your are treated to views with two senses: sight and sound.  Every morn and night you are greated with haunting renditons of the call to prayer for nearby mosques.

Please click on photo to get the entire view!


Hilton, Nice, France

What is better than a view of the French Rivera?  Nice offers some ob the best water and beach front  on the globe.  We understand the hotel sold to another chain.  Can anyone confirm that?  Regardelss the view of the swaying palms, the fine eye candy on the beaches and of course the azure water are not to be missed.  You are literally a hop, skip and a jump to world class beaches.




Ok we weren’t going to reveal which is favored by who to let you the reviewer an unbiased opinion.  But this is Mike’s fave hotel in the world.  The mighty Cavalieri is one of the ugliest hotels on the outside.  It is about as glamorous as a cement box.  But what it lack in outward appearance, the inside and of course the views more than makes up for.  Located on a perch overlooking all of Rome and especially the Vatican, the view is breathtaking.   As luck would have, as we opened the siding door to our patio, there was a rainbow over the city!   The hotel is located in a 50 acre parklike setting.  We understanding that during conclave, rooms go for astronomical prices.  You could see the white smoke from your room!




Fairmont Zimbali Lodge-South Africa

Lastly, but certainly not least is the the Zimbali.   While our room offered a jungle obstructed viewof the Indian Ocean, a few steps down the path to the pool affords one of the most impressive ocean front views!  We visited the Zimbali at the end of our safari trip trough South Africa.  The resort lodge is an oasis for the soul.  The hotel has a number of freshwater pools right on the edge of the ocean.  We timed our visit on the shoulder season and had the entire pool area to ourselves.  Beat that view?  I dont think so!

There are some many great locations out there: an African Lodge, a Mediterian escape or even take in Kensington apartments for that matter!  Regardless if they are hotels, hostels, or even serviced apartments treat yourself to a great view!

Now is your chance to weigh in with your opinion.  Which is the best view?  Just leave a post below.