I’m on vacation!
Our first city adventure with Tikka in Italy finally arrived as we rolled into this beautiful Tuscan city late in the afternoon on a warm September Day. Tikka, passed out in the back of the car, was again of no help with navigation so we found ourselves doing a few loops around the old city before zoning in on the exact street that took us to our hotel. Confession: we did have an ‘oh, crap… we are going down a one way street the wrong way’ moment. Glad we got that out of the way early on in our vacation, we knew we’d do it at least once!
After a quick check in at the hotel, we unloaded our bags and we were off with Tikka by our side to get our bearings before the sun went down. Florence is everything people write about in poetry, paint in pictures and sing songs about. Gorgeous, inspiring and welcoming… even for dogs.
View of the Arno River and Oltrarno district at Sunset
Our first night took us down to the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) for a fantastic view of the setting sun. With it being our first night around any major tourist attractions, we were surprised at just how crowded the streets were for late September. Quick note to selves that our city walks would be best early in the day to beat the masses and this plan paid off our entire trip. By going out early we not only had the city and views to ourselves we also saw the buildings and landscapes in the fresh warm glow of sunrise.
Look closely to find Tikka and her Dad on Ponte Vecchio
And that’s just what we did on our first morning. Up at 7am to walk Tikka across the Arno River and climbed the stairs to Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square) for the view of all views over Florence. Tikka enjoyed the early 45 min blood pumping walk after all the driving the day before and seemingly enjoyed the panoramic view as much as we did.
This is what early mornings are all about, just look at that view!
Sunrise at Piazzale Michelangelo
On the walk back we made a typical Italian breakfast stop at the bottom of the hill, close to the river at Cafe Rifrullo. We could get used to this! Fresh flaky pastries and top notch espresso to get our day going, all while our dog could have a quick nap beside us. The best part was watching all the locals with their dogs come and go – clearly Italian baristas are the bartenders of the morning, getting to know their regulars with quick chats as they came and went.
Our favourite little dog friendly cafe in Florence
We made our way back through the Florentine streets to our hotel, stopping along the way to wonder at the numerous statues at Loggia dei Lanzi and the elaborate designs of the Florence Duomo. Crowds were still light so navigating the streets was easy with Tikka on the end of the leash.
After chilling for a few hours in our room we ventured out again for a meal at Fishing Lab Alle Murate with Tikka under our table. Yum! Highly recommend the Sea Bream and Tuna appetizers..Incredible!
Late afternoon and a lot of walking later, we decided to leave Tikka at the hotel and walk up the 400+ steps of the Palazzo Vecchio to take in the vista and explore the battlements and prison cells of the tower. Arriving late in the day there was zero line up and the light was beautiful over the rooftops. This was one type of place where dogs weren’t allowed, a lot of museums won’t let dogs in. She wasn’t complaining…all the walking and new sights, sounds and smells left her completely crashed out in the room.
Let’s get climbing
View from the tower of Palazzo Vecchio
We finished out our busy day with an amazing dinner at a little restaurant called Trattoria Sostanza. We made a reservation ahead of time and let them know a dog would be in tow which was no problem. When we arrived, they couldn’t have been more accommodating or dog friendly. We were at a table where she could lay out of the way of any waiter’s feet and there was already a full water bowl ready for our arrival. It was just an introduction to how dog friendly the rest of our trip was going to be!
Read the second part of our visit to Florence with our dog where we visit parks, explore Oltrarno and check out the Mercato Centrale.
This post is part of the Vandoggo series of traveling around Italy with your dog.