One day in Florence

One day in Florence

Florence

Spending one day in Florence may not be enough to discover the city. Florence is a place you have to see once in your lifetime. It is the city of cities for tourists.

Every year millions of people visit Florence.

At the moment, due to the impact of the coronavirus, many visitors stay away… unfortunately.

Fantastic and fun things to do

The city has many great things to offer, such as museums, Renaissance art, churches, wine bars, restaurants and some other well known highlights.

If you only have one day, make sure not to miss the Piazza della Signoria and Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Academia. The greatest masterpiece of the Renaissance.

Visit the Galleria degli Uffizi. Admire the goddess of beauty and love “Venus”. The Birth of Venus is painted by Botticelli.

Definitely a food lover’s paradise in the centre of Florence is The Mercato Centrale. An unmissable destination for fantastic food and a glass of wine.

Ponte Vecchio

Walk over the bridge Ponte Vecchio!

View of Florence and the Arno

Piazzale Michelangelo sits on a hill. Enjoy the panoramic view.

For special exhibitions* go to The Palazzo Strozzi.
*In 2017 I have visited the exhibition dedicated to the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. 

And not to forget The Palazzo Pitti. The Pitti Palace is Medici’s residence and it houses important collections of Renaissance paintings and sculptures.

Just to mention a few things what to do in Florence…

David of Michelangelo

The capital city of Tuscany

Florence or Firenze is the capital city of the region Tuscany. For me it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is the birthplace of the Renaissance.

As I am interested in Renaissance art, Florence is a city where I could return to again and again without ever getting bored.

Ponte Vecchio

Ponte Vecchio

Piazza del Duomo

Florence has incredible restaurants, gelaterias, cafes and osteria’s. Caffè Gilli is the oldest café in Florence. It is a cocktail bar with sofas and chairs in a nice chill-out “space”.

From here you have a beautiful view on the square Piazza della Republica, the largest piazza in Florence.

Caffè Gilli

Visiting Florence during Covid-19

This February I have visited Florence. Tuscany was low risk “zona gialla”.

The Italian Dpcm rules related to the yellow zones: all shops and museums are open. Bars and restaurants are allowed to stay open from 5 AM until 6 PM.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Italy is still increasing. Tuscany has been classified as a red, orange and yellow zone.

The anti-Covid regulations are stricter for the red and orange zones. Museums are closed. Hairdressers are closed. Horeca can offer food delivery and takeaway. Traveling is prohibited unless absolutely necessary.

At present Tuscany is a orange zone.

On my way to Piazzale Michelangelo

Museum Le Gallerie degli Uffizi

In 2008 I have visited the Galleria degli Uffizi when I backpacked through Italy. I stayed at Camping Michelangelo for a few nights. I remember waiting there outside for hours to get in the museum.

The Uffizi Gallery is the most important and popular museum in Italy, together with the Vatican Museums in Rome. Two top destinations not to be missed.

Despite having few tourists at the moment, there was a queue to enter the Uffizi. These people were mostly Italian and school children.

Book your ticket online

Through the website of the Galleria degli Uffizi you can book your visit on a date and time of your choice. The price for the online entrance ticket is Euro 16,00 per person. With this ticket you avoid long lines.

Upon booking you will receive a confirmation email. You show your e-ticket to the ticket office where it will be exchanged for an entrance ticket.

Galleria degli Uffizi

Audio guide

To learn more about the museum’s most popular objects an audio guide provides interesting information on the things you see.

The audio guide is available in 4 languages (Italian, English, Spanish and German) and can be rented at the service desk, but only with your own valid ID card.

“La primavera” Sandro Botticelli

Important art works at the Uffizi Galleries

The works in the gallery are shown in the chronological order in which they were painted.

Many art collections belonged to the Medici family. The Gallery’s collection includes masterpieces of Filippo Lippi (Madonna col Bambino e due Angeli), Botticelli (Spring and The Birth of Venus), Michelangelo, Raffaelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

Filippo Lippi “Madonna col Bambino e due angeli”

“Nascita di Vendere” Sandro Botticelli

The Galleria degli Uffizi houses art works from Dutch, German and Flemish painters as well.

My favourite restaurant in Florence

Trattoria la Casalinga is situated only a stone’s throw away from the Palazzo Pitti. The location is a bit off the tourist path. This trattoria offers the best Tuscan meals!

Trattoria la Casalinga

I had lunch with Thomas, a friend of mine who works in the same businesses. He organizes wine tours and tastings in Tuscany.

We discussed various topics. Hopefully we can start a wine project together in the nearby future. Who knows! We feel the absence of (American) tourists. Wine tours and tastings are completely disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thomas enjoys wine and he knows a lot about it. He’s an expert. For our lunch he choose the wine Carmignano DOCG from the winery il Sassolo. This wine is made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a full bodied red wine, good pairing with local Tuscan food.

Our lunch menu

We started with chicken liver paté served on crostini and Lardo di Colonnato. As a main course we ordered the Fegato alla Toscana (pork liver). A deeply flavored piece of meat. Liver tastes really good. I like it.

Many people don’t eat organ meats. I can imagine that. Some people don’t even want to think of eating it. Luckily I eat almost anything. Liver is healthy, but you shouldn’t eat it too often.

Our lunch was top notch! Good food, excellent wine and nice ambiance. Great and fast service in Trattoria la Casalinga.

Shopping in Florence

Besides being the cradle of the Renaissance period, Florence is also the ultimate shopping destination in Italy. It is one of the “Made in Italy” fashion capitals, together with Milano. I enjoy shopping in Florence.

February is the period of sales. You find the best sales and discount on fashion clothing.

In the centre’s shopping areas people need to wear face masks. Also in shops face coverings are mandatory.

Before you go into a shop you must clean your hands with hand sanitizer gel.

My shopping addresses

In Florence I have my favourite shopping addresses. I am a regular customer at Intimissimi. I have a card for extra benefits. The service at Intimissimi is good and friendly.

At this moment my preferred clothing store is GUESS. GUESS is an American clothing brand. You’ll find a variety of styles. GUESS is fashionable for men and women. Hip and stylish!

Address: Via degli Speziali 9R, Firenze

Desigual is on one side of the Ponte Vecchio. Another clothing shop in Florence where I often check the latest trends.

GUESS shopping

Getting to Florence by public transport

There are several ways to get to Florence.

I always go to Florence by train from Chiusi-Chianciano Terme. From here it takes 1h 45 m on average to Firenze S.M.N.

You can buy your train ticket through the website Trenitalia or at the train station. A one way train ticket Chiusi – Firenze costs Euro 14,00 (regional train).

The top sights in the historical centre are easily to explore by foot. In Florence trams and busses are widely used.

From Florence you can make day trips by train. Cities such as Siena, Pisa and Arezzo are within easy reach.

Getting to Florence by car

Along the A1 highway is the Villa Costanza Car Park (Scandicci). You can access it both coming from the North or the South. Villa Costanza is the first Drive and Tramway car park in Italy.

Villa Costanza is an ideal alternative to avoid traffic jams in the centre of Florence. The T1 line brings you to the centre.

A single way costs Euro 1,50 and is valid for 90 minutes. Every tram stop has a ticket machine. You’re not able to buy tickets on board.

Running in Florence

Florence is a city where I have left literally many footprints. I ran the Firenze Marathon in 2016.

Firenze marathon 2016

And before that, I’ve participated in many smaller runs. This was the period in which we headed off to Florence almost every week. Even just for a training with Fulvio Massini.

We miss our races in Italy!

Notturna di San Giovanni 10 km run

Firenze Corre

Florence in a day.. enjoy this YouTube video!

I’ve made this video this February to let you experience Florence from a distance.

Ciao e arrivederci!

 

Exercising outside in Montepulciano

Exercising outside in Montepulciano

Exercising in Montepulciano

In this challenging time doing some sports are good. Running outside is what I do daily. I want to stay fit. Physically and mentally.

While running face masks are not required, fortunately. It is safe to run outside in Montepulciano. Fresh air benefits in many ways!

Running in Montepulciano

Montepulciano is a hill town. It is located at an altitude of 600 m above sea level. I know that running on hills builds muscle strength. In this period I do nothing else than running uphill and downhill.

Running here is amazing. But I don’t always enjoy training through the vineyards. Hill running is tough. Honestly I hate hills.

I usually train on a flat surface in Valiano. Valiano is a small town in the Comune of Montepulciano. To get there I need to take my car. Obviously the way we live now it isn’t allowed. We may only leave our home for work, necessity and health reasons.

The situation leave me no choice but hill running.

Vineyards in Montepulciano

The days are getting shorter and the average temperature drops. It is autumn. Biking conditions are still excellent in Tuscany, but not for me. I think my bike will be stock until 2021. Not for being lazy, I just prefer to bike in warmer weather conditions.

Christmas

Time flies. Everybody goes through difficult times. Almost a year has passed. Soon we will celebrate Christmas again.

Christmas in Montepulciano

Clearly the holidays will be different this year. The Christmas markets are cancelled in Italy. I don’t know if Montepulciano will have a Christmas tree for us to see.

Let’s hope 2021 treats us better!

 

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Covid-19 update Italy

Covid-19 update Italy

The latest news Coronavirus in Tuscany

Italy was the first country outside China to face a major corona outbreak. We went into a lockdown for at least 9 weeks in 2020. The restrictions against coronavirus were strict.

Last summer we managed to keep the infection rates relatively low. Unfortunately the end of the coronavirus is still not in sight.

Italy continues to update its coronavirus rules. Here you read some basic information about the current coronavirus situation in Italy.

Latest news 2021:

From Monday April 26 Italy will let restaurants with outdoor seating reopen for lunch and dinner in yellow zones. Tuscany returns to yellow zone.

We look forward to seeing you again soon in Montepulciano.

Alla salute!

 

  • The curfew will remain until the end of May when it will be re-evaluated.
  • Museums and exhibitions will reopen on April 26 but on reservation basis at weekends.
  • Cinemas and theaters will reopen with 50% capacity.
  • Restaurants can reopen for lunch and dinner, but only outdoors and in yellow zones.
  • All team and contact sports will be allowed.

For more information and updates: The Florentine. The Italian government gives a weekly update in English

Tuscany update

Tuscany has been classified as a red, orange and yellow zone.

  • Tuscany returns to yellow zone From April 26

Fiat 500

White zone

A new white zone has also been introduced. A region must have fewer than 50 cases 100.000 habitants.

White zones will no have restrictions. Meaning normal life. Now no Italian region will be classified into this zone, but with introducing the white zone means hope for the future.

Maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask remains but bars, restaurants, cinemas, libraries etc. will reopen. There will be no nationwide curfew.

Maintaining social distancing

They say that Tuscany will be one of the first regions classified into the white zone. Let’s cross our fingers!

Me wearing a face mask

Three colors

Starting from November 6 Italy is divided into three zones: red (high risk), orange (medium risk) and yellow (low risk). The colors are designed by the government and Minister of Health.

Dpcm Italy

The code classification changes frequently in Italy. It depends on the local statistics.

The nationwide curfew is still effective today in Italy.

Social distancing must be continued in the three zones. And it is mandatory to wear a face mask unless you go solo outside for a run or a bike ride. For body and mind it is important to get outside and exercise. With the eased restrictions it is it is the ideal time to do them.

Biking in Tuscany

Travellers from and to Italy must fill in a self-declaration form. These documents prove your reasons to travel.

Yellow zone

A yellow zone in Italy is a moderate risk zone. The rules are more relaxed.

The government recommends you to limit movements.

You are not allowed to move between regions only when necessary (work, study or hospital).

No more than two guests can visit the same home. And visiting a private home is allowed only once per day. The place you visit must be in the same region.

Restaurants, bars, gelaterias and pubs are able to operate in weekdays and weekends. The opening hours are 5 AM till 6 PM. Takeaway for restaurants is possible until 10 PM.

Shops are opened on weekdays and weekends. Shopping centers (shopping malls) remain closed on weekends and public holidays.

Hairdressers and beauty salons are open.

Orange zone

The orange zone is a medium high-risk zone. Nationwide measures continues to apply with additional restrictions.

The government recommend to limit movements as much as possible.

Restaurants and bars are closed. Bars provide takeaway service until 6 PM and restaurants provide takeaway service until 10 pm. There is no time limit for home deliveries. Pharmacies and shops that sell essential goods remain open.

Caffe Poliziano

Shopping centres (shopping malls) are closed over the weekends and public holidays.

Shops, hairdressers and beauty centers stay open on weekdays and weekends.

Closure of all museums, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theaters. Universities, primary and secondary schools are closed.

You may receive up to two guests in your home, on one condition that they live in the same municipality.

Residents are allowed to leave their homes only when it’s for work, necessity and health reasons.

Outside physical activity in the vicinity of your home is allowed (hiking, running and biking).

Red zone

The red zone is the highest risk zone. This means strict rules. People are asked not to move around unless necessary.

It is recommended that you work from home.

The rules last at least for 15 days. Restaurants, bars, gelaterias are closed. Except supermarkets and other food stores. Takeaway until 10 PM is still allowed. Pharmacies and shops that sell essential goods remain open.

Traveling in between regions and cities is prohibited. Moving in your municipality is not allowed, unless it’s for work, study and health reasons. When traveling you must have a signed declaration form proving your reasons to travel.

Closure of all museums, gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theaters. Universities, primary and secondary schools are closed.

Hairdressers are closed. Beauty centers are closed.

You may only exercise individually in the vicinity of your home.

Running in Tuscany

Up to two persons may visit another person’s home, on the condition that they live in the same region.

 

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Quarantaine life

Here’s my story and a selection of images showing my quarantaine life in Montepulciano.

March 18 2020

My first face mask bought in the local pharmacy of Montepulciano.

At home in Montepulciano

March 21 2020

Prime Minister Conte announce the shut down of non-essential factories and that more severe measures are necessary due to the increasing number of coronavirus deaths.

All pharmacies, supermarkets, banks and public transportation will continue to remain open in Italy.

“Stiamo distanti oggi, per abbracciarci con più calore domani”.

Prime Minister Conte

March 26 2020 

“Ai tempi del coronavirus restiamo a casa.” means: During the coronavirus outbreak we stay at home.

At home in Montepulciano

At home in Montepulciano

March 31 2020

“Musica che unisce”. Music makes people feel (more) connected. This virtual concert on Italian TV featured many famous musicians and singers including Andrea Bocelli, Irene Grandi, Diodato (winner San Remo 2020), Tiziano Ferro and many more.

Musica che unisce

April 12 2020

Eastern in Italy.

Eastern San Pietro

Easter mass in empty’s Sint Pieter church in Rome. “May God stop this tragedy, stop this pandemic,” the pope prayed.

My aperitivo used to be the highlight of my day. Another day has passed. So.. a good occasion to celebrate!

Virtual wine tasting

The Coronavirus made a Zoom boom generation. If you wanted to participate to a virtual wine tasting, meetings, yoga lessons or you just wanted to see friends and relatives it had to be on screen.

Now I use Zoom for my Virtual Wine Tastings in Montepulciano. I love this application!

“In the times of a pandemic, when you cannot fly out to experience new cities, a virtual wine tour with Sylvia is what I needed. Her knowledge on the wine and history, her story telling and live videos of Montepulciano made me feel, like I was in Italy for a brief moment. Loved it! Thank you, Sylvia!”

Quarantaine pack from Holland

April 27 2020

I got some Dutch delicacies from close friends of mine.

Hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles), stroopwafels (caramel biscuits), cheese, drop (liquorice), caramel fudge … all yummy!

Quarantaine package

Together with the local products they have sent me wonderful CD’s from one of my favorite Russian conductors Valery Gergiev. I have seen Gergiev several times conducting the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in De Doelen.

Quarantaine package

One of my best memories ever is the Tsjaikovski’s violin concert with Janine Jansen and Gergiev.

Pictures of Tuscany after the lockdown

Pictures of Montepulciano just after the nationwide lockdown of two months when Italy opened its borders.

The impact of coronavirus on daily life is enormously. Many people have lost their jobs, small business, some restaurants have closed.

We must stay alert and safe (social distancing). In supermarkets it is still obligatory to wear a face mask and to clean your hands.

Running

During the coronavirus pandemic it is safely to run. I do solo running. Three times a week I plan my runnings.

You can see my running activities here.

Sentiero delle Bonifica

Sentiero della Bonifica

Sentiero della Bonifica

Covid-19

The spread is slowing but the end of this pandemic is still not in sight. The lockdown measures in Italy were severe. I do not hope for a second Covid-19 lockdown in Italy.

Since the Covid-19 many things have changed. In Montepulciano we have some visitors from Europe, but especially American tourists are missing here. It is devastating for the economy and we feel it.

Montepulciano

Wine and Food Experience

Last year with my Wine and Food Experience in Montepulciano I’ve met many wonderful people from all over the world: Dubai, America, Canada, China, New Zealand, Holland, Germany, Ireland, Poland..

I miss the interaction with people and having the exchange of positive energy.

Wine and Food experience

Saturday next, July 25 2020, I will have my first group in Montepulciano for the Wine and Food Experience. I am happy to welcome you again in Montepulciano!

 

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New Phase 2 measures in Italy

The Covid-19 measures in Italy are somewhat eased since early May. Restrictions on travel within the same region will be dropped on May 18.

Shops, restaurants, hairdressers and bars are being allowed to reopen. Two weeks earlier than planned.

Movement in your own region is permitted. Without any “autocertificazione”. Finally we will be able to visit friends as long as they live in the same region.

Fiat 500 in Montepulciano

Both regional and international borders will open from June 3. The Italian government wants to allow travel between the regions and the Schengen countries. People will be permitted to enter Italy without any restrictions. Tourists can travel to Italy again. Awesome!

I am excited that things are getting back to normal. That gives me hope. As in the lockdown period it seemed impossible. But just the idea of having a fresh pizza with a huge beer in a trattoria makes me feel very happy.

Bars have already reopened for take-away service. I love an Italian coffee after lunch. Recently I got a take-away coffee at the Piazza Grande. The coffee was good and it was nice talking to the locals again. Nonetheless… nothing beats an Italian coffee ” al banco”.

Gatherings of large groups are still banned. Unfortunately some important summer events have been cancelled. For example Umbria Jazz in Perugia. The festival will return in 2021.

Wine business

Over de last few weeks I have been busy with setting up my wine business. I am working on a new online wine webshop. It is something that I have created together with a little help of my friends.

It will be a project with my own “Italian” identity. It is a personal investment in local wine. I find it a bit scary to invest in this period. We live in a difficult economic situation. But I must do something. And this is what I like too! I don’t know if I’ll have success but I keep up the good spirit.

Vineyards in Montepulciano

Besides this new project I have published a new virtual wine tasting experience page on my website. I organize from mid June free online wine tastings in Montepulciano.

I will use the Zoom application for the virtual wine tastings. More information about this will be followed.

Running

I had a long period of knee problems. My right knee is doing much better. I go often by bike and I do my exercises to strengthen the muscles that support my knee. I am ready for a new running schedule.

My trainer has sent me a new program for the upcoming two months. The priority is to restart. The runs are short and I have no idea how the results will be. But I am happy to start running again.

You can fallow my running activities on Garmin Connect.

Running in Montepulciano

Virtual wine tasting

Last Saturday I had my first online Zoom wine tasting experience with a group of American people. I have a friend in NYC who organizes online meetings with friends. This time I was invited as a guest speaker.

Through the virtual wine tasting experience I showed two video’s of Montepulciano. I told the story of the winery Gattavecchi and the wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. I enjoyed!

The meeting took about 1 hour. Talking to people on the other side of the world was great. A feeling of not being alone for a moment. I did this online wine tasting from my home in Montepulciano. Next time I do the virtual tour in the wine cellar.

Will I see you then?

Virtual wine tasting

 

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