When researching for our trip to Italy I came across this AirBnB listing….and I knew I HAD to go there! It was 30 minutes outside of Florence, an organic grain farm in a traditional land house in Calenzano. This picture was taken out the front door!! View of a lifetime!! Going to this particular place though meant taking the train from Vicenza wouldn’t be easy (the house is 3km away from the local station through windy dirt roads, and taxi’s are almost unheard of there). So we looked into renting a car from Florence, but for the weekend it was nearly $800 since we needed a van…normal European cars wouldn’t cut it with 3 adults and 2 carseats. Luckily our friend offered to drive us in her SUV from Vicenza, a 2.5 hour drive, if we paid for tolls and gas, easy enough for us! And yay we got to spend more time with them!!
We stayed at an amazing Farm house: AirBnB Casa Toscana Organic Lifestyle, Or their personal website for their farm Pedere Montisi. Although it made things a bit more complicated. I really enjoyed staying there, and am SO glad we made it work. The host family grows Farro grain, and makes jams. They were very friendly and helpful. They even brought toys for the kiddos to play with and had travel cots if we needed.
We took the Autostrada (the Italian toll highway system). It took 2.5 hours from Vicenza to Calenzano (would have been another 30 minutes to Florence). Tolls were about 20 Euros each way, and we maybe 80 Euros in gas. Something I didn't expect (but should have) is there are SOOO MANY TUNNELS on the autostrada to get through Tuscany.. like seriously 50 or something. It wasn't an issue or anything, just something I didn't really think about.
Also something you might not expect... the Rest Stops along the Autostrada have cafeterias called "AutoGrill" which actually have AMAZING FOOD! some do have fastfood chain, but most are cafeteria style with sandwiches, pasta, fruit, etc. Its crazy to tell people that some of the best food we had in Italy was at a rest stop, but its true!!! Especially with kids it was easy to get something they would eat and something we would eat.
To get to Florence from Calenzano, we drove the 3km, parked for free at the local train station and took the train just a few stops into the main Florence train station. It was about 6euros each way. The local Calenzano train station did not have an elevator, and we were utilizing a double stroller, so we had to take the kiddos out, my husband carried the stroller down and then back up the stairs while my friend and I carried the kiddos. The Trenitalia system is seriously amazing. The cars are clean, outlets and trash bins at every seat, bathrooms in every car. There are also “emergency buttons” within reach from anywhere, great…but not with a toddler! I was terrified he would hit one, but luckily I was able to catch him nanosecond before each time!!
Sights to see:
In Florence my main goal was to go to the Market. There is an indoor market (Mercato Centrale), and also stalls outside (mercato San Lorenzo). We went to Florence on a rainy Saturday, and walking to the market from the train station was very crowded, smalllllll sidewalks, navigating with a double stroller was difficult. Once to the street where the outdoor vendors are I quickly noticed…it all the same trouist crap! I was really disappointed, I was (maybe naively) hoping for more local artists or crafts of some sort. Instead it was hats, t-shirts, scarves, and endless amounts of leather wallets and bags (I’m not a fan of leather). We walked through all of them and got to the end of the building where the market is, there is a ramp to get inside. Inside are mainly food vendors, bulk goods, and also cooked food to go or to eat there. After some more research now that we’re back home, there are a few other markets we could have checked out
Ponte Vecchio, we walked from the market through a high end shopping district (it has nice wide, flat streets!) towards the Ponte Vecchio, we saw the Duomo from afar but decided to head towards the Ponte Vecchio instead.
Pitti Palace, the little dudes had just waken up from their nap and the weather had cleared up so we decided to stop at Pitti Palace and let them run in the Palazzo out front chasing pigeons. The plan was originally to tour the Pitti Palace and Boboli gardens but we didn’t think the kiddos would be cooperative, so we just hung out then walked back through the city to the train station. I bought some artwork from a street vendor there (surprisingly affordable!).
Spirits & Good eats:
While in Calenzano we didn’t visit any restaurants. Instead we opted to go grocery shopping at a nearby store and ate in the rental house. (2 dinners, 2 breakfasts). There are 2 restaurants you can see from the farm house, and several more just a few minutes in town, but we opted for low key.
Mercato Centrale – We ate lunch in the main market building in Florence. I ate lasagna, Lee had pesto pasta, it was delicious! You could spend hours walking around the 2 floors, trying cheeses, pasta, wine, and other goods which most can be purchased and shipped directly to your home back in the US!
Caffe deglio Innocenti – It started raining so we stopped here for cappuccinos along the route heading back to the train station, it was then I had to change Bram’s (poopy) diaper on the floor of the café’s teeny tiny bathroom….an experience for sure! I couldn’t bend my elbows out it was so narrow! But it was a larger cafe we could fit the double stroller inside and wait out the rain.
In all honesty we could have probably skipped Florence... I DEFINITELY wanted to go to Tuscany... and I though we were right there so why not. We had fun, but not the most memorable moments of the trip. I would love to spend a week just in Tuscany, maybe without a kiddo, drinking loads and loads of wine!
Other Posts in this Series:
Now that our triangle family is complete, follow along as we live our "life after infertility." Our travels, our joys, our laughter & our sorrows of parenting.
Chrissy is a...
full time corporate world working somewhat crunchy mom, a loving wife, an MRKH Warrior, Infertility Advocate, support group leader & a bad ass breastfeeder. In her fleeting spare time she enjoys hiking, traveling, walking her pooch, sewing and watching funny or sappy TV shows.