I joined four of my good friends in Florence in search of warm evenings, historic architecture and world-class food and wine.
With just three days to spend and a distinct lack of research done, we were slightly worried we wouldn't make the most of our short visit. Fortunately, we brought our walking shoes, which made it almost too easy to discover practically all Florence had to offer.
Our hotel was situated just outside the bustling city centre and proved the perfect starting point as we found ourselves launched out into a blend of Italian lifestyle, history and culture.
The city's centrepiece is the Arno River. Despite passing by it multiple times a day, I never grew tired of strolling down its banks, sampling the laid-back Italian lifestyle alongside arched bridges and sun-aged apartment buildings.
Florence's most famous and striking attraction is the domed-roof Cattedrale di Santa Maria, which had its front facade (pictured) restored in Gothic Revival style in the 19th Century. The crowds can be massive in this tourist centre of town, but the views (inside and out) are too good to miss.
My next tourist stop was Forte Belvedere, a 16th-century fortress that offered sweeping views of Florence and the massive Cattedrale's duomo (dome). The fort is free and open for tourists, unless it is hosting one of its famously lavish events - Kanye & Kim's wedding in May last year caused a stir!
Speaking of lavish events, we were blocked from making another sunset trip back to the fort by a police motorcade that was escorting the Israeli president to a meeting there. Lucky for us, the sloped streets on the way back to town were just as photogenic and made for a great scene in the warm afternoon sun.
After being denied the classic tourist views of sunset, we decided to go local instead, making the most of our evening sharing Italian beers together on Santa Trinita bridge. This was the best place in town to glimpse the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, which became even more beautiful as it lit up after sunset.
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Two hours later, Ponte Vecchio was absolutely shining, creating a stunning reflection over the still waters of the Arno River. I kept trying to put my camera away to enjoy my night out with friends, but I don't regret sneaking away from the group one last time to get this shot!
I'm a sucker for a gorgeous doggy, and I've found the streets of European cities fantastic for hound-spotting. These two sleepy Dachshunds were greeting and accepting pats from visitors outside an accessories store in the town centre.
It's always satisfying to capture an image that really gives epitomises the place you're in. This vintage Fiat 500 created the perfect pastel colour palette as it crossed the Arno in front of warmly coloured riverfront apartments.
An awesome trip deserves an awesome finale, so the cigars came out and we celebrated our final sunset overlooking the town from Westin Excelsior's gorgeous rooftop bar. An extensive wine and cocktail list hit the wallet hard, but kept us in very good spirits right through til twilight.
And what a twilight it was. A perfect last image from the trip - the view from our table as apartment buildings lit up over the Arno at last light. For a relatively quick visit, we were all stunned with the sheer amount of beautiful scenery and genuine good times to be had in this historic European city.