Day 4: La Spezia, Italy (Florence / Pisa) – Harmony of the Seas
The 4th day of our cruise began bright and early. We had a light and delicious breakfast at Park Café before our excursion “Florence & Pisa Exploration with Smart Device”.
After breakfast, we headed to Studio B to meet our guide at 8 am.
Booking an excursion through the cruise line can be really beneficial. Even though the gangway was scheduled to open at 8:30 am, we were off the Harmony and headed to our tour bus by 8:15 am. Everyone in our tour group was on time so we did not have to wait.
Our tour guide was very friendly and informative. During the 45 minute ride to Pisa, she provided excellent commentary about the sights. The Carrara marble quarry in the mountains was especially beautiful.
Upon arrival in Pisa, our bus dropped us off within a 15 minute walk to Piazza dei Miracoli, which means Field of Miracles. This is where the Leaning Tower of Pisa is located.
The construction of the Tower of Pisa began in August 1173. The fact that it is still standing is a miracle. Although, we had the option to go to the top of the bell tower but we elected not to.
It was fun to look around at the beautiful structures and fellow tourist “holding up” the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Of course, I took one of these original photos as well! (how could you not?)
After purchasing souvenirs and refreshments, it was time to return to the bus and head to Florence.
En route to Florence, our guide briefed us on details of the city and passed out the smart devices. In my opinion, the smart devices (Samsung Galaxy Tablets with 4G) were not necessary. Anyone with a smart phone could access more than the rudimentary maps and software these devices offered. Google Maps includes an offline mode that provides turn by turn directions. Instructions can be found here.
Next, we arrived in Florence and began our custom itinerary. The temperature was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit so we made our 1st stop at Vivoli Gelateria
Vivoli is without question the most famous gelateria in the city of Florence, which is called “The Gelato Capital of Italy”. The gelato at Vivoli is delicious and made with high-quality fresh ingredients. The owner, Piero Vivoli visits the local markets every morning at dawn to purchase the spices and ingredients for the days creations. The restaurant is family owned and has operated continuously since 1930.
We cooled down in Vivoli and then my wife set out on a quest for her favorite Italian designers. I carried the bags. After we (she) finished shopping, we grabbed some lunch at SandwiChic.
Situated near the Duomo, SandwiChic’s location makes it easy to find. The employees take their time making your sandwich, so prepare to wait about 10 minutes. It’s certainly worth it.
They offer a wide range of sandwiches filled with artigianale meats, tasty cheese and condiments varying from truffle paste and onion cream to fresh tomato rubbed onto warmly toasted focaccia.
SandwiChic is a testament to high quality ingredients. This sandwich was visually simple, but it was the BEST tasting sandwich I have ever eaten.
Now that I had finished what was in my opinion one of the best lunches in Florence, we headed to Piazza della Signoria.
Piazza della Signoria is the political hub of Florence in the center of the city. It is the meeting place of Florentines as well as numerous tourists. It is effectively an open-air sculpture gallery of antique and Renaissance art. Amongst others, it hosts a copy of Michelangelo’s David and the Medici Lions.
After leaving Piazza della Signoria, it was time to head back to the tour bus. As we walked back, I noticed we were about 2 blocks away from Vivoli. Take a guess, do you think I went back? ☺
We arrived back at the Harmony fully satisfied with our excursion. Later that evening, we tried out the Bionic Bar. I thought it might be gimmicky but it was awesome! There were iPads on the tables that were used to view the menu and place your order.
As your drink is being prepared, your name (first name and last initial) and your drink name are displayed on a mirrored screen on each side of the Bionic Bar.
Watching the robots make the drinks was very cool. When your drink is completed, you simply place your SeaPass at the end of the bar and your drink is whisked into your hand. Magical right?
The events of the day were a lot of fun. Looking forward to Rome tomorrow!
Have you been to Pisa, Florence, or sailed the Harmony of the Seas? I’d love to hear your experiences below!
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