Cruise Stop #1: Livorno/Florence, Italy

Alrighty then! Let’s get started on this European Explorer cruise adventure!

*Feel free to leave questions, and stories about this location and surrounding area in the comments.*

The first night on board took us from the Port of Civitavecchia to Port of Livorno in Northern Italy. Livorno is said to be a beautiful town in its own right, but we decided to take an “excursion” (a.k.a. bus ride) to Florence for the day.

In case I forgot to mention it or you didn’t read my first impressions post, my parents did enjoy this cruise with us despite it being our official honeymoon trip. Yes, I know it may sound strange, but it was really enjoyable being able to share this experience and adventure with them. We all had plenty of time to do our own thing and never felt like anyway was crashing the party.

Our mission: Get Mom a leather jacket and Dad a bistecca Fiorentina.

Back in September 2017, my husband and I traveled to Florence for a quick getaway after I arrived in Italy (semi-permanently) and before heading back to the states for our wedding. We are pretty familiar with the general area and have our trusty Google Maps to help guide us when we need some help with directions.

Our meeting point was the Basilica di Santa Croce. We hadn’t ventured to this beautiful piece of architecture before, and it was a site to see. It completely stands out and defines the plaza it is part of. We didn’t go inside, but maybe next time…

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Due to a slightly stern moment with Mom in Rome when she pointed out some leather bags, we first headed to the San Lorenzo Market where you’ll find nearly endless amounts of leather goods. I believe my exact words were “You don’t need that. Don’t even look at it. If you’re going to get leather from Italy, it will be in Florence.” Imagine I said that with a joking tone blanketed by seriousness because it’s true. You buy leather in Florence. We did pass by the Catedral di Santa Maria, better known to tourists as the Duomo.

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Once we arrived at the market, we located the store my good friend’s (who happens to be my best friend’s boyfriend, Pasquale… for now ūüėČ ) father runs. Claudio Iacovelli. Remember the name. After trying on several jackets until just the right one (well, two in this trip) was found, part one of our mission was complete. As a reward for playing tour guide the previous few days, I got a new leather purse that is INCREDIBLE!! ‚̧

If you’ve never bought a real leather jacket before, this is the perfect store to go to. Yeah, it might sound like I’m just saying that, but it’s true! For my fellow Harry Potter fans out there, Pasquale is the Ollivander of leather jackets. There is THE ONE for you and he will find it!

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Now that shopping left us famished, we headed to the same restaurant we visited before, Fermento. This pub restaurant has some fine bistecca Fiorentina. Bistecca Fiorentina is essentially the regional meat specialty. You take a huge cut of meat including the bone, put a little salt and pepper, maybe some rosemary, sear it on both sides, then serve. There’s no such thing as a well-done bistecca Fiorentina… not even a medium cooked one exists. The entire steak will come out rare to medium-rare. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a few pieces near the bone that cooked a tad bit more if that’s your preference.

We ordered one steak to split between the four of us as well as the Fermento pizza (prosciutto, tomato, mozzarella, and pesto), Caprese salad, bread on the side, and a carafe of red wine. We were properly fueled to begin the trip back to the Sapphire Princess.

As we walked back to the meeting point, we stopped in a couple souvenir stores, passed by the Hard Rock Café to get a magnet for our collection, bought a pair of pants, and grabbed a gelato.

It was a quick day in Florence and a beautiful day in Florence. The sun was shining the whole day and it was the perfect way to ease into the cruising life we’d be living the next 9 days.

Next stop: Monte Carlo, Monaco/Nice, France

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