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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.

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5 Great Cities for Couples

As you know, 1000 Fights is all about encouraging couples to get out and see the world together.   We have put together our 5 favorite couple travel cities.  These are not the “most” romantic cities for couples…look for that post next month!  What we have put together is five great cities to travel as a couple with something for both of you.  Its no secret that we strongly recommend that when couples travel, you spend some “alone” time seeing things that interest you “sans” your mate.  While some folks frown on this, it really works for us.

How did we select these cities?  First of all, it is a bit limited, we only picked cities that we have been to and are very familiar with.  Have you been to a great couple city?  Zing us a comment below.  Besides that, we picked cities that appealed to us individually and collectively.  Cities that could do it both, entertain us on our own and together and do it with panache!

fountain rome italyRome for Couples

For the Gals:

Let us help you plan your “girls” day in Rome.  Start off in the morning at the Villa Borghese.  The Villa is surrounded by a huge central park right smack dab in the middle of Rome.  The villa houses the newly renovated Borghese Gallery.  The Gallery itself is a work of art, not to mention the works of art displayed inside.  Don’t miss Bernini’s famed Apollow and Dahne.  In a word: stunning. (galleriaborghese.it).

After you have taken in the majesty of Borghese, why not hit a famed roman bath/day spa?

For the Guys:

What is more manly than standing in the colosseum and shouting to the world, “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!?”  Channel your inner Russell Crowe.  Besides Pamela Anderson’s chest….the colosseum is likely one of the most photographed structures that man has ever made.  With that said, both of them are much more impressive in person.  Throw down the extra euros and take a real tour.  The little details on the colosseum are so impressive.  The stadium could seat 50,000 people!

To mark the grand opening of the sporting complex, a hundred-day games were held by Emperor Titus in AD 80. In the process, some 9,000 wild animals were slaughtered!  The entire floor was flooded on occasions and great sea battles were staged!  How cool is that?

Together time:

Rome is a great walking town.  We recommend the Trevi Fountain.  Toss a coin into the fountain and you will return to Rome.  Two coins and a new romance will blossom. (hopefully with the one you are with?)  Three coins a happy marriage.  Four coins?  That just means you don’t have enough for gelato.  Don’t make this mistake.

 

London for Couples

Jane austin London EnglandFor the Gals:

Simple!  Leave the guy behind and rent a car and head to Jane Austen’s house!

For the Guys:

We highly, highly recommend the Imperial War Museum:  http://www.iwm.org.uk/.  For starters the entire museum is free!!!  Save the cash, we won’t tell!

Together time:

We have two really good ideas for you.  The first is to catch a play in the West End.  Dress up to the nines and have a great dinner right on the West End and see some incredible theatre.

For those on  a budget, grab some curry at one of the many little street shops and ride the London Eye together.  The views are to die for!

 

New York for Couples

For the Gals:

New York, New York

Shopping! On you marks… get set… GO!  New York is also a great place to take and do some personal pampering.  There are an endless supply of amazing spas, and salons.

For the Guys:

New York is all about the food and the sports!  There is nothing in the world better than a fat slice of Brooklyn pizza, just dripping with cheese and pepperoni!  BoooYa!  Then take in a game-pick your pleasure:  Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Rangers, Islanders, Giants or Jets!  So much to choose from!

Together time:

The Big Apple is a very special place for couples.  Our fave couple experience is take the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building.   We picked the perfect evening recently, the building was in the clouds and lit up blue!  It was so beautiful.  The view from the top is not to be missed.

 

Vancouver, CanadaVancouver BC for Couples

For the Gals:

Ditch the guy and take a ferry over to Victoria Island for the day!  It is well worth the trip.  Candidly if you pull maps up on google, Victoria is a hop, skip and a jump away from Vancouver.  In reality it is a bit further.  It will take all of a day to get there and back and see a few of the better sites.  The ferry terminal from the mainland is a bit out of Vancouver.  The ferry across the drink will take 90 mins or so.  Bring a girlfriend and chat it up while taking in some truly amazing scenery.  Arriving in Victoria you can take high tea at The Fairmont Empress, then you can hit Butchart Gardens or do some antique shopping in the antique district.

For the Guys:

Vancouver BC is loaded with outdoor adventures.  Take out a kayak, rent a bike or just head for the hills.

We also hear they have a pretty good hockey team.  Watching hockey with a bunch of Canadians is an experience every man should have.

Together time:

Vancouver is a great couples town.  For the best in couple time we suggest a few ideas:  First you must dive into the food scene.  We did a post on some of our faves to give you a head start.  Then we highly recommend taking a stroll down by the waterfront or in one of the many parks in town.

paris franceParis for Couples

For the Gals:

Just go here and thank us later:  http://www.girlsguidetoparis.com/

For the Guys:

France does have something to offer the Hommes.  We recommend taking in the Military Museum aka Les Invalids.  I know what you are thinking…France has one of those?  Yep, and its pretty cool.  See Napoleons tomb as well as tributes to French generals when they knew how to fight wars.

Together time:

If we have to give you ideas for this, you have bigger problems!  For those romantically challenged here is our sure fire recipe for a perfect evening in the City of Love.  In the early evening, hop on hte metro to the Basilique du Sacre Coeur in Montmartre.  Watch the sun set over Paris holding the hands of your lover.  Then experience the delicious cuisine of Montmartre.  Then ????

So that is our humble list of great couple cities.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Did we miss a city?  Just click below, we would love to hear from you.

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