City Sundays: Florence

Author: , February 7th, 2016


Hey all,

Welcome to our weekly series on the blog and our Facebook travel groups – City Sundays. Each week we’ll select a different LGBT friendly city to talk about, and we’ll invite our innkeeper and travel agent/tour operator friends to come talk with us about it as well.

Florence is truly a world-class city. It’s extremely walkable, and it’s the cultural heart of Italy. There are so many great museums here, and one of the finest pieces of art celebrating the male form – David by Michelangelo – is here as well. Seeing David is almost a religious experience. It’s hard to explain, but seeing this statue that we have all seen in pictures a thousand times is nothing short of stunning. Florence is also a world-class food capital, with some amazing restaurants. And it’s a great base for exploring Tuscany.

Have you ever been? What did you do while you were there?

Do you wanna go?

Let’s chat! Join the conversation here:

Gay (Men) Travelers: Gay Travel Club
Lesbian Travelers: Lesbian Travel Club
Transgender Travelers: Transgender Travel Club
Bisexual Travelers: Bi Travel Club
LGBT Families: LGBT Families Travel Club

Check out our Florence page here:

And our Florence articles on the blog here:

Dolly Travels – Florence, Again, and Side Trips

Author: , July 9th, 2015

Dolly Travels


I was reminded by my fellow traveler and assistant tour guide, Susan, that I have fallen behind in my blog posts. Mamma Mia! How could that happen??

When I last posted, Susan and I had left Castelrotto to return to Florence. We spent one night in Bolzano, which is not enough for me. I do love Bolzano, also, but we did have time to go to dinner at one of the local breweries/restaurant.

I do not usually eat like this, but I was missing Frank, and I know that the roasted pork shank, Schweinhocksen, with all the trimmings, is one of his favorites, so I ordered this meal. I could not eat even half of it. However, since it was our last night in Sued Tyrol, I gave it a good try. By this time, I had to change my drink back to wine. I do think the Tyrolean beer is excellent, but I could already feel the waist of my pants was getting tighter..I cannot blame the Wuerstel. Potatoes, Weinerschnitzel. Ha!

We arrived back in Florence on Saturday, exactly one week ago. We have had a heat wave here like I have never experienced in Florence before, and I have been coming here every year for the past 8 years. The temperatures are in the high 90’s, and over 100, but the humidity is anywhere from 35% (at night) to over 60%. We are not used to the high humidity, so the heat has been very draining. Therefore, our adventures in Florence have been pretty limited: early morning walks. (Susan), late evening walks and entertainment: Susan and Jayne.. My adventures have been to the Mercato in the morning and cooking in the evening. Until today.

All three of us took a bus trip up to San Gimingnano last Wednesday, and escaped the heat for a short time, but it was pretty warm up there, as well. Jayne is experiencing her first Italy trip; therefore, she is just happy to be here, and doing as much as we can.

San Gimingnano is always lovely; however, this day, there were hundreds of tourists from the cruise ships, Japanese tour groups, which, for some reason, always number about 50 per group. And us. We realized later that most of these groups would have gone to Siena, but the Palio was being held in Siena that day. Next time I will check these things out first.

Even with the many tourists, we still found quiet areas, lovely places to see the beauty of this hill town.

Yesterday, our landlords,our friends, hosted us at their home in Viareggio, on the seacoast. We were more than happy to accept their invitation, to escape the Florentine heat.

Later, our host took us to an art show in nearby Forte di Marmi. While we were there, we could see dark clouds over the mountains, then some thunder, then lightning and thunder. We hurried to the car, as we had to catch our bus back to Florence. While driving, the rains started…it got heavier, more lightning and thunder, heavier rain. Massimo took us back to their home, as they had left all the windows open. What a mess! Massimo took us to the bus station, giving us each an umbrella, while Magda started mopping up the rain from the floors.

We got back to Florence and hour and a half later. No rain here. In fact, the rain stopped before our bus had even reached the Autostrada out of Viareggio. Temperatures were still very warm when we arrived at 10:00 p.m. We went out for a pizza and home to bed, and air conditioning.

This morning, there was a nice breeze blowing, so I went for a long walk. Susan was gone on her walk, and Jayne elected to stay in the apartment. The breeze helped a great deal. I finally got up to Piazzale Michelangelo. I walked along the Arno to S. Niccolo bridge, traveling some streets that I have traveled many times.

I also went to the Bargello Museum, walked over many more familiar streets before coming back home. I was very thankful for one day, where I could really enjoy my Florence.

In just two days, we will go back to Cinque Terre, but we are staying in Monterosso this time. We think it will be cooler there. But we will be on the seacoast again, and I personal plan to spend most of our three days there on the beach.

I shall plan to post a blog from there….

Look for more adventures.

Ciao for now,


By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Eastern Tuscany Gay Travel Resources

Dolly Travels – We Are in Florence Now

Author: , June 12th, 2015

Florence - Dolly GoolsbyHello,

I want to send a little bit of news. From Florence, before we get too busy again. We arrived here Sunday afternoon. We are staying a bit further away from the center of activity than we usually stay, but we are still only 10 minutes away from the Duomo, and in a very nice neighborhood. I couldn’t believe it when the taxi pulled up to this lovely building, and a very nice Italian gentleman introduced himself, as he was there to get us into the apartment and oriented to the apartment and the neighborhood. We had to converse entirely in Italian, as Marcello did not speak English, and I must say, Janis and I did very well getting all the information straight.

We are on the ground floor. Those windows are our living room windows. This is a beautiful apartment, I am almost sorry I am only staying here for a week.

Well, me being me, I am in love with the kitchen, but we have done more than stay in the apartment.. Being the foodie that I am, the first adventure of Monday morning was to go to the San Ambrogio mercato, to lay in supplies for the week.

Now we have done some cultural activities.

Yesterday we went to the Accademia Galleria, to see Michelangelo’s David. He is still amazing, after all these years.

So much to see…the Galleria was pretty crowded, with many tour groups going through, but we all got to see the most important sculptures and paintings.

Later in the afternoon, we took another walk, through the city, concentrating on seeing the Renaissance Florence. As we were coming home, we had the unique experience of the group getting separated from the leader. That was a first, for me. We eventually found each other, but I have to give serious thought to becoming a tour leader waving an umbrella.

Today, we went to the Uffizi Galleria. This museum has the largest collection of Italian art in the world. It was pretty amazing. Although I have visited the Uffizi many times, I still love to go there. I especially love the Botticelli room, but so did the tour groups. I had to double back a couple of times to see what I wanted to see.

After visiting the Uffizi, we had lunch, then headed back to the apartment, straying into the Eataly store, just to look, be amazed at all the goodies there. We purchased some bread and olive oil, and we were extremely surprised, when we left the store, to find that it was raining. We were really taken aback, as the sky had appeared to be a pretty blue when we went into the store. We continued on toward home, staying close to the buildings, and within ten minutes, the rain stopped and the the sun came out again.

After we got home, though, we heard thunder, the sky became darker, and the rain really came down. We opened the windows to get the fresh, clean air, and enjoyed the rain from our cozy apartment.

We had a lovely dinner again in the apartment. I am so happy being able to cook. We have only eaten out for lunch. We are enjoying having the relaxed, comfortable evenings at home. To me, it is like having a family dinner, where we can talk, laugh, plan more activities, and just enjoy the company of the others in our group.

Tomorrow our plan is to go to Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens. The rain has stopped again, now, so we will hope for good weather tomorrow.

Later this week, I know I will have more pictures and stories to share. So, I will say, Arrivederci for this evening.

Ciao for now,


By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Tuscany Gay Travel Resources

The World’s Most Beautiful Man Is In Italy

Author: , October 19th, 2014

David - Adam GroffmanEarlier this year there was either a law passed or a minister in Italy who said photographs could be taken in the country’s many museums, including the Accademia Gallery — home of Michelangelo’s David. The news appeared on My Facebook Feed (shameless plug: follow me!) at one point this summer and I just quickly took note without actually following up. But on my recent trip to Italy this month, I heard it verified by some local Florence bloggers: you can now take photographs of Michelangelo’s David (without flash, of course!).

And because photographs of the world’s most beautiful man are now allowed to be taken in the museum, I’m finally sharing my own sneaky snapshots from 2012 😉

I first visited Florence for two reasons and two reasons only. One because of art. And two because of books. Well, maybe also a third reason: books about art in Florence. I think my desire to visit Florence stemmed from Irving Stone’s The Agony and The Ecstasy…a book I read back in high school. Michelangelo’s passion in that biographical novel was enough to convince me that I needed to see his work in person. And the very first sculpture I remember seeing by Michelangelo was this one, the strangely majestic David.

This article was written by Adam Groffman, author of the internationally popular travel blog, Travels of Adam. Read more here: The World’s Most Beautiful Man Is In Italy.

Florence Gay Travel Resources

Last Weekend in Florence

Author: , October 5th, 2014

Duomo in Florence - Dolly GoolsbyHello,

Yes, this will be our last weekend in Florence. On Monday we will travel by train to Sorrento. All of our travelers left us on Momday, so just Susan and I are here in Florence now. Since this is my favorite Italian city, I was very happy to have the extra days to enjoy this lovely place.

Many changes are occurring in Florence, as I mentioned in an earlier blog. The city is cleaner and seems to be fewer gypsies around, but those people do seem to pop up whenever the police leave the area.

Gypsies are beggars. That seems to be their sole source of income…other than picking pockets. Some of their dramatic scenes are pretty funny to watch. For instance, everyone who has been to Italy knows of seeing the classic old beggar woman on her knees, forehead on the sidewalk, moaning how hungry she is, rattling the few coins in her plastic cup, begging for more coins. A few days ago, on a fairly busy street, I saw one gypsy woman, sitting on the bumper of a parked car. As soon as a group of tourists was headed her way, she walked over to the sidewalk, got down on her knees and started her wailing routine. Another old woman, was sitting on the church steps, rattling her cup, begging for coins, moaning that she was hungry. I walked up the steps, tried to open the church door by pushing instead of pulling. The old woman stopped her moaning and shouted at me to pull the door not push. So I did that, entered the church, and she went back to her drama.

Many of the historic buildings are being restored, so there is scaffolding everywhere. The Ospedale of the Innocents, a building dating from the 1400’s, right near us in Piazza Annunziata, is undergoing a major renovation, which will include a museum that will tell the story of this first orphanage in Florence, we are proud to know one of the young architects working on that project, Jacopo Carli, son of our good friends, Massimo and Magda.

The Baptistry, by the Duomo, is also getting a facelift. The Museum of the Duomo is closed and being totally re-done, not due to open again until November, 2015.

I am happy to see the clean up projects underway. Florence is a very old city, so naturally buildings cannot last if they are not cared for properly. However, there are still so many beautiful places to see in this city. My favorite things to see are outdoors, anyway.

So many things to see and places to go. Now the sun is shining, I can smell the pastries baking in the pasticciera downstairs. Yes, Robiglio seems to be baking their delicious goodies right here on Via Dei Servi once again.

So I am off to visit more of my favorite places, which seems to me, will have to include a cappuccino and brioche at Robiglio.

I will sign off for now, and tell you more of my adventures later.

Ciao for now,


By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Florence Gay Travel Resources

Back in Florence

Author: , September 28th, 2014

David - FlorenceYes, we have been in Florence since Tuesday, but we have been so busy trying to see everything that I haven’t had time to write. Now, 3 of the travelers are packing, getting ready to leave tomorrow. I hate to see them go. This has been another very good tour group. Lots of fun, and they got to have so many great experiences.

On Tuesday, we walked to our apartment from the train station, got settled in, then only had time for a brief walk before dinner.

On Wedensday, we went to the San Ambrogio mercato, got food for our meals, and everyone got to explore a bit, see the different stands and help choose our food.

Later, Massimo Carli, our landlord, and expert on Florentine history, took us for a guided walk through historic Florence. That was thoroughly enjoyable. We walked past Piazza Reppublica, across the Arno River by way of the Ponte Vecchio, and returned over Ponte Santa Trinita.

Later, once again we had dinner at the apartment, with our own Happy Hour first. I love having the apartments, as it is so nice that we can all sit around and visit, and go to bed when we feel like it.

Thursday we toured Pitti Palace. We wanted to go to the Boboli Gardens, but there had been a great deal of damage to the gardens from a hail storm the week before, so that was a disappointment. The ladies cured their disappointment by going shopping after lunch.

Friday was a very full day. We started by going to the Accademia to see David and other great works of art, followed by some going to the Uffizi Gallery, and others to the Galileo Museum.

Yesterday, Saturday, Massimo gave us another walking tour, this time in Pisa. He walked us from the train station to the Field of Miracles, explaining many of the historic sights along the way, and once again, we were all impressed with Massimo’s expertise and knowledge of the art and architecture of Pisa.

The Baptistry and The Duomo in Pisa. The Baptistry is amazing for its acoustics. One of the workers stood in the center of the Baptistry, sang a note, then another, and another. Because of the echoes, it sounded like 3 part harmony. We all had lunch together, then we had to catch our train back to Florence, and Massimo returned to Viareggio.

After a quick shower, we all walked to Il Latini, a wonderful, fun ristorante for dinner, and once again celebrated Nichole’s birthday.

This morning we walked up to Piazzale Michelangelo, so the ladies could see Florence from the great viewpoint up there. I never get tired of that view.

So now we are winding down for the evening. Susan is making our Happy Hour cocktails, the other ladies have given up on packing … At least for now, and then we will have our last dinner together, here at the apartment.

I must say good bye now, and will probably write another post in a few days, as I have not been able to use all the pictures I want to use.

I will be in Florence a few more days, then on to Sorrento, and after that, I will be returning home. Travel is such fun, but, yes, I miss my family, Frank and his family, as well as my little home. After that, who knows where my wandering will take me.

Ciao for now,


By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Florence Gay Travel Resources

Back in Florence

Author: , September 7th, 2014

Florence, ItalyAhhhhh…Firenze… Bella citta. My favorite Italian city.

We finally got to Florence late Friday afternoon, after experiencing one train delay after another. We do, however, know the Chiusi train station well. We arrived at Chiusi by bus from Montepulciano with 7 minutes to spare to buy a train ticket and get onto the train. I had to stand in line at the ticket counter to get our tickets, so we missed that one. Then the next train, scheduled an hour later, was delayed for first 20 minutes, then 25, etc., etc…finally, though, we did reach Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station, and were on our way to our apartment. The sun was shining, and life was good once again.

After a quick trip to the grocery, and getting settled into our little apartment, we went across the street to our favorite little bar, the OK Bar, for an Aperol spritz then on to another neighborhood ristorante for a pizza. We were just so happy to be back in Florence.

The next day Susan left for Napoli. I went to the San Ambrogio mercato, not because I needed any fruit or vegetables, but I just needed to see it again. Of course, I did buy a beautiful eggplant and some lovely tomatoes, and of course some fresh mozzarella to go with it all. Oh yes, how could I pass up that gorgeous bouquet of fresh basil? I am an incurable “foodie”. I admit it, but I enjoy being one, also.

Susan returned from Napoli in time to enjoy the eggplant Parmesan with me.

The next evening was so warm and lovely, we went for a night walk.

We walked along the Arno, past 2 bridges, then crosses over to Oltrano to walk back.

The next day we took a day time walk. One of the surprises for us this trip is how clean the city is. The big garbage bins are being replaced with in the ground, stainless steel containers, and everyone is recycling. People seem to be taking more pride in the city, also. Street sweepers come by several times a day, and this is a very nice change,

Another surprise for me, was my trip to the San Lorenzo market, where all the stalls for clothing, leather, t-shirts, and everything else WERE. No more. Apparently, the church decided that the market was not what they wanted around the church, so the market went away. Now it is a broad street, pedestrian only, and very clean.

The gypsy beggars and street people. The ones selling pictures, sunglasses, umbrellas, etc., Gone. There are many more policemen around and are watching for these illegal merchants.
I like the change. Of course, there were still beggar women o. The church steps in Piazza S.S. Annunziata, but no more gypsies washing their clothes in the fountain.

We only had a few days, so we didn’t get to do as much as we would have liked to do, but we were happy that we got to spend some time in Florence. We will be going back there in just a couple weeks with the Dolly Travels group, so that makes me happy.

So I will close for now. We are in Venice now, getting ready to greet our friends when they arrive tomorrow. I will write a blog about Venice shortly, then you will hear more from me as we continue our adventures.

Ciao for now,


By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels | Eastern Tuscany Gay Travel Resources

Florence in Four Hours

Author: , January 23rd, 2014

Florence - Carlos, MeliaDuring our last visit to Italy, we spent two night in Florence… well actually in Fiesole at the lovely and exclusive Villa San Michele by Orient-Express, we came down to Florence a few times to explore the city and also to enjoy some lovely dinners like the one we had at the Il Palaggio by Four Seasons Firenze.

The fact that Villa San Michele had a regular shuttle connecting the hotel with the Piazza de la Repubblica in only 15 minutes, made our stay truly magical allowing us to enjoy the best of Florence as a traditional destination, and the peace and charm of the Fiesole, overlooking Florence from the top of the hills.

For our tours, same as in Rome and Venice, we hired the expert services of Andiamo Travel and their staff of local knowledgeable and professional guides. In only a few hours, on a very tight schedule to see three main destinations in only 6 days, they managed to give us a full introduction to each of them.

Carlos Melia - FlorenceClick the link below for our photo tour of our four hours exploring Florence, by Andiamo Travel, which included: Piazza della Signoria, The Loggia della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio, Il Duono at Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Michelangelo’s House, The Baptistery of John the Baptist with the bronze doors (reproductions – the originals are in the Duomo Museum) and of course Ponte Vecchio.

Take a short break for lunch, perhaps at Cucina Tradizionale Boccadama while visiting Pizza Santa Croce or at Cantinetta Antinori. We later continued to the Artistic Studio of I Mosaici di Lastrucci store, Chiesa Santa Margherita dei Cerchi, ancient church to have been the location of Dante Alighieri’s marriage, and also contains several tombs including Dante’s great love Beatrice Portinari.

The following day, on our own we took two hours to explore the Uffizi Gallery, holding the world’s most important collection of Renaissance art, at our own pace, (BTW buy your ticket online weeks before arrival to Florence. Uffizi Gallery is one of the busiest museums in Italy), before heading to the train station to move on to our next destination, Venice.

Authored By Carlos Melia – See the Full Story at the Carlos Melia Blog

Click here for gay travel resources in Florence.

The Most Fun Yet

Author: , May 21st, 2013

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on the go again, this time in Italy. She has graciously allowed us to republish her travel blogs. Enjoy!

Dolly "Bella" GoolsbyWow! I wish all of you had been with us on Sunday.

One afternoon, in the apartment, Jane was looking through the Rick Steves’ guidebook and found a tour for us to take. The 500Touring Club has vintage Fiat Cinquecentro cars, that one can drive, and the company takes you on a guided driving tour through Chianti country, between Florence and Siena.

Now I have always loved seeing the little Fiat 500 cars, and have wanted one for a long time, so I was very excited about taking this tour.

Jane called and got us reservations for Sunday morning. We took a taxi up to the starting point, where Andrea, the Australian wife of an Italian man, gave us instructions on how to drive these cute, but temperamental little cars, with double clutching, choke and starter levers, windshield wipers that go as fast as the car is going.

The cars all have Italian names: the black car is Enzio, the blue one is Roberto and the red car is Paola.

We had three cars, three drivers: Suzanna drove our car, whose name was Roberto, Kiri and Patrick had Enzio, Marj and Jane had the green car, Olivia. After Roberto started misbehaving, Andrea had us change cars with another couple, so we got the red car, Paola, who behaved much better.

It was so much fun. Once we stopped at and overlook, Andrea encouraged us to take pictures standing up inside the cars. The cars all had a canvas top that folded back.

The scenery was unbelievably beautiful. The day had started out rather misty, but soon cleared up, so the air was clean and clear, the fields and valleys were freshly washed and green.

We just did the 2-1/2 hour trip that Andrea and her husband offer. I didn’t see their website until after we returned. After looking at that, I want to do some of the other tours.

Go to the website, and see what I am talking about. This tour is definitely going on the Dolly Travels agenda for future Italy trips.

Want to Follow Bella’s Latest Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

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Firenze and Lucca

Author: , May 15th, 2013

Lucca AmphitheaterOur dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on the go again, this time in Italy. She has graciously allowed us to republish her travel blogs. Enjoy!

As you know, we are now in Florence. We are going and going. Seems like we are moving all the time. Just trying to remember all the places we have been, and put them into some sort of order, is our biggest problem. Now, don’t you wish you had come along with us? What a fabulous adventure so far, and we are far from being finished. OMG. Where else in the world would you be discussing whether your building is 400 year old or 600 years old? Or whether Villa d’Este was in Rome, Tivoli or Sorrento? (The correct answer is Tivoli).

Yes, Cindy, we are all together in Florence. I love these 2 persons as much as you do, so I will not lose them. What a wonderful item time we are having.

We had a lovely 2 nights in Orvieto. You have seen the blog from there already, so I won’t elaborate on that, except to tell you, if you come to the Tuscany/Umbria region, be sure to go to Orvieto.

On Sunday, we tried to go to Mass at the Cathedral in Orvieto , but we had to leave early, as we had to catch the train to Florence.

We arrived in the early afternoon in Florence. First order of the day was to get to the apartment then up to Piazzale Michelangelo, to see the finish of the Giro d’Italia…

Well, I passed on that, as not more than 5 minutes after we had gotten into the apartment, the rain started, and fell in bucketsful, but Kiri, Patrick and Suzanna were determined to see the finish of the bike race up at the Piazzale Michalangelo. I don’t know who was happier to see the race end…the bikers or my friends.

Monday morning we woke up to sunny skies. No clouds anywhere. . Our big adventure for that day was going to the San Ambrogio mercato. I showed everyone my favorite places to buy meat, chicken, fruits and vegetables. Then we brought all our “goodies” home, and set off for the street market at San Lorenzo. And then a tour though the Straw Market, to the Porcellino…the Good Luck Pig…if you rub his nose, tradition says that you will return to Florence. I make sure I always rub his nose.

That night, we cooked up the wonderful pork roast with roasted potatoes. I am in heaven! There is nothing I love more than preparing the delicious, natural foods from the mercato. We had brought one of the gigantic lemons from Sorrento, so now we made the fantastic lemon- lettuce salad that we could only enjoy with this wonderful Cedric lemon from Sorrento.

Today we went to Lucca. Rain is predicted for most of the rest of the week. And I wanted to be certain that we got to Lucca on a nice day, so everyone would have a chance to either bike or walk the ramparts. The old wall around the old city of Lucca. And we had a marvelous time.
We arranged a meeting time, as I was the only one who didn’t want to bike. But I wanted to explore some of the old favorite places, and I found new favorites. The kids climbed up to the top of Torre Guinigi, where trees have been growing for ever so many years, and no one knows how they can live, with very little soil..amazing.

After we got back home. (And this apartment feels like home to me), we did some grocery shopping, had a Happy Hour drink at the OK Bar, then made dinner here. Risotto, sausages with peppers and onions, and the last of our lemon salad. I am sad. We will never be able to have that salad again until we return to Sorrento and get more Cedric lemons.

Tomorrow we are going to San Gimignano. And then another dinner here in the apartment. I love cooking here. The food we buy is so fresh and tasteful. I love that I have to scrub real dirt off the potatoes. And know that all the fresh food is organic. Not because it is labeled that way, just because that is the way the food is grown.

Would I move to Italy? Probably not, because my family is not here, but I love Italy. Being here brings me the greatest pleasure. I am more relaxed, I am so happy here. But I love showing off my Italy to others. Won’t you come along with me next time?

Want to Follow Bella’s Latest Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

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