So I spent 3 days in Venice and 3 days in Florence and I have to say they couldn’t be more different. Venice is a floating city, no cars, no bikes, only boats and walking. Very unique city. The good- Romantic gondola rides with singing Italians just like you see in the movies. Picturesque views around every corner. The bad- very expensive boat taxis and gondola rides, $80 Euro! NO thank you. Very rude people, I bought a gelato from a store and the lady yelled at me for standing in front of a window in front of a shop across the street, not even her shop. Plus there was a sign that stated NO SITTING in front of window, not no standing. I can read signs not your mind. Why did she even care what I was doing at another shop? Geez. The food was OK, not great, just OK. No nightlife, a few very tiny bars but thats about it.
Florence is hands down one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. The Good- awesome food!!! Best pizza I’ve ever had and I eat a lot of pizza. Best lasagna I’ve ever had. Best Fettuccine Alfredo I’ve ever had. Extremely friendly people. Every restaurant we went in you could tell they pored their heart in their craft and man was it tasty. Our first day we visited the grocery for some vino, didn’t spend more than $4 on a bottle of vino!? That night my brother and I decided to explore the city. It was a Tuesday night so we weren’t expecting much. To our surprise the streets were littered with Italians sitting everywhere drinking wine. We were greeted by a guy trying to get us to go to their Hawaii night, being my brother lives there we couldn’t pass it up. Once there we got a couple tequilas and some expresso. We gave them a decent tip and went outside (tipping isn’t necessary but kinda hard to break the habit and you always want the bartender to like you). Outside there was a hookah bar that we decided to hang out at. After a few minutes the bartender came out with a couple free shots and gave them to us. Sweet! After the hookah sesh we went inside for more libations. The bartenders really opened up and by the end of the night we were treated as celebrities. They invited us behind the bar, busted out free glasses and started a photo shoot with us. More free shots. They closed the bar but let us stay with them and invited us to an after party with them. What hospitality! On our second day we visited this little bar/grill called “Off the Hook”- a must visit. They served gourmet burgers and various other items. They give another level to hand crafted cocktails. Each drink was a delight to watch them make and so delicious to taste. They offered us free coffee/expresso after our meal, we’re like umm sure. To anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t like or drink coffee, but when in Rome right? After the expresso the owner of the place (working the bar) came around the bar with 4 different liquors and sets them down at the table, he said for you, self serve. What? We were all like umm what is going on? Mind you this is after our night out when we were treated as celebrities, we had smiles plastered on our faces the whole time. So naturally we started pouring shots and tried each one lol. He recommended we come back later that night for some live music and touted his night bartender as the best one ever. OF course we returned. Upon returning we tasted a few cocktails such as Mojitos with sugar torched limes and fresh mint as a garnish and a Flying Fish that had a garnish of hibiscus caviar. Free cocktails again as the night bartender was expecting us. We closed the bar down again and were included in the after hours shots with the locals. There wasn’t a drink that didn’t wow me, and I used to bartend for over 5 years. Four of five restaurants we visited gave us lemon chello shots for free after our meals! That would very rarely ever would happen in the US. I could tell you about 3 more bars we went to with similar experiences. Our worst drink was by far more expertly and uniquely crafted than the best ones I’ve had in the US.
The bad- none.
Overall Italy is very pedestrian friendly with a ton of shops restaurants, historic churches, palaces, all within 30 min walking from one end to the other. Wine is just about as cheap as water and very tasty. EVERYONE SMOKES- that was a pretty big turn off to see beautiful women smoking cigs everywhere, but I guess thats how they roll. Didn’t come across anyone that couldn’t speak english so that was a nice relief. We all left Italy with a sweet Italian accent that you couldn’t help but imitate.
I plan to return to Italy for some photography of the Italian Dolomites (part of the Alps) in the next few months. Stay tuned!