Road trip update: What did you like the most about Florence?

“What did you like best about Italy so far,” I asked as we boarded the bus back to the hotel.

“Florence,” said my nine-year-old son, Aren, without hesitating.

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“Why?” I wondered. “What about the Tuscan countryside? Orvieto? Rome? What made you pick Florence?”

“The gelato!” he said.

Our guides had pointed us to a small place a block away from the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower called Grom, where we’d received our ice cream fix, despite it being an unseasonably cool late summer day.

It was good. Really good.

It’s kind of funny how that goes. You take the kids all the way to Hawaii and what to they remember? Shave ice. You ski in Vail and all they can talk about is the crêperie where they annihilated sugary desserts after a day on the slopes.

Ah, well.

I would like to say that Florence was not Rome, and that the farther north you go, the more organized things get. Not really. The birthplace of the Renaissance had the same long lines of American, German and Japanese tourists winding around the block at the Accademia Gallery, waiting to see Michelangelo’s David.

Outside the museums, in the narrow squares, the picture was much the same: too many tourists vying for the perfect shot of their girlfriend standing in front of the Fountain of Neptune.

As a bonus, there were fewer motorcycles. However, the pedestrian zones weren’t exclusively for us — we shared them with much larger but disturbingly quiet electric buses. Fortunately, no one in our group was hit.

The saving grace was that Florence was presented by Adventures by Disney, so everything from the tour local guide to the museum tickets to lunch was arranged by Signore Mickey. They seem to know exactly when everyone (especially the kids) have reached their limit and are ready to rest or have a snack. Or call it a day.

I’ll never forget Florence. Especially that cup of pistachio and peach gelato from Grom.

11 thoughts on “Road trip update: What did you like the most about Florence?

      1. There was a place in Powassan, Ontario called the Funny Farm where they’d make just about any kind of ice cream you could imagine. Dog biscuit, dill pickle, you name it.

  1. I agree, GROM near Duomo is fantastic, and Florence is a great place for Gelato (Perche No, Vivoli and others). There’s GROM in New York City but I haven’t been to any of those 3 NYC locations.

    Hope you try the bistecca alla fiorentina if you are a meat lover.

  2. When you get to Venice, skip Grom (too cloying and too corporate) and head to Il Doge on Campo Santa Margherita or Alaska on Calle Larga de Bari.

  3. Gelato in Rome, gelato in Florence, gelato everywhere in Italy.  When we flew for 11+ hours from Milan to Los Angeles in 2001, I wandered up the aisle in the Coach cabin to the middle of the plane and asked (in Italian) the Alitalia flight attendants “Where’s the gelataria?”  Their laughing response was “So sorry, Signore, there is none on this flight.”

  4. Love the picture where your daughter is posing as “David”!

    While in Italy, we learned to eat gelato FIRST, then worry about other food.  More room for gelato!  We decided that Venice has the best. Hard to find decent gelato in the Omaha area, but Whole Foods comes close.

  5. My favorite place for gelato in all of Italy is in Florence, but it’s Perche No. We also had quite a humorous moment in Perugia when my friend accidentally ordered “pesce” gelato instead of “pesca”. The lady working there had quite a laugh before correcting her!

  6. We loved Florence.  It is a great city to walk around.  We were amused to learn that most of the jewelry shops on the Ponte Vecchio have one owner.
    Seeing the David was most impressive.  And, yes, the gelato was fantastic!

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