I can most likely thank my parents for being the first people to show me the joys of travelling. I had a family holiday every year growing up which was my first exposure to Europe. After my brothers and I had flown the nest, my parents continued holidaying, with increasing frequency once my dad had retired. However since my dad passed away, my mum has not been anywhere abroad. My mum had a big birthday coming up which was three days after her and dad’s 40th wedding anniversary. My brother Adam and I wanted to mark the occasion and take her away for the week. Since honeymooning there in their 20s, Italy has held a special place in my parents’ hearts. So we headed to Tuscany.

View from Giotto’s Bell Tower of the cupola in Florence

We based ourselves in Florence. Adam found us a centrally located hotel with a lift so that everything was accessible for mum. We spent our time in Florence ambling around the atmospheric streets, taking in the incredible architecture from the Duomo all the way to the Pitti Palace. Florence is deserving of its reputation and it’s no wonder it’s such a popular international destination.

The stunning Piazza del Signoria by night
First impressions of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore

Adam and I climbed Giotto’s Bell Tower for some superb views. We queued for hours to get inside the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, which may not have been worth it as it’s actually very plain inside. We came back another day to climb up the cupola as well. The views of the city were sublime.

Giotto’s Bell Tower
The vast interior of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
The view from the top of the cupola
The view again, but with me in it!
We visited the Basilica of Santa Croce which we found more impressive in some ways than the main cathedral
A moment of repose in the cloisters of Santa Croce
There was some great light in the cloisters!
We were even able to see the graves of Michelangelo and Galileo in Santa Croce

We viewed the wonderful Ponte Vecchio from all angles. We crossed it and explored the Boboli Gardens. Plus we visited the amazing Uffizi Gallery, which while was full to the brim of exceptional art, there were really way too many paintings of Jesus. Once you’ve seen about 50, you don’t need to see another 500. I loved the greek sculptures though!

Mum and me with the Ponte Vecchio
The view along the River Arno
Exploring the Boboli Gardens
View from the Boboli Gardens
Mum and me at the Boboli Gardens
The Botticelli paintings were definitely impressive at the Uffizi Gallery

One day we caught the train to Siena to have a look around. We soaked up the atmosphere in the main square and walked up to the stunning Duomo di Siena which was – of the many churches we visited on this trip – the most impressive. Adam and I also climbed up to the top of the Facciatone for some more amazing views.

View from the train on the way to Siena
Piazza del Campo
The superb Duomo of Siena
Mum and me with the Duomo
The extremely impressive interior
The Facciatone
And the view from the Facciatone
The beautiful Tuscan countryside just outside Siena
One last look at the Piazza del Campo and the Pubblico Palace

We finished our trip with a celebratory meal for mum’s birthday in the Piazza della Signoria. We’d had some lovely food on this trip which is just what you’d expect from a stay in Tuscany! Our little family trip to Florence had been a success. Mum was happy and we had made some wonderful new memories. I’m in no rush to return to Florence for the time being, but there’s no question it’s one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

Happy Birthday mum 🙂

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