As alluded to in the first post about the 2014 European adventure, our first day in Florence consisted of a lot of walking around with luggage, and eventually, a lot of exploring, with a great deal accomplished on the first day. However this was after about 48 hours of travelling from the other side of the world.
We arrived at just after 0800 in the morning, and weren’t meant to checkin till 1500 in the afternoon. With a rolling bag and 2 smaller bags each, and cobbled streets, we didn’t want to keep our bags with us for too long, but couldn’t checkin early as we were staying in an apartment, not a hotel.
First up was a coffee, and thankfully, we picked a place with free wifi. Next we headed into the centre of town to find a SIM card, as data is always useful to power maps and what not on a phone. Ultimately, we wandered as far as the river before catching a taxi to near our apartment, but still 4 hours early, and had some beers at a craftsman’s restaurant (many men), followed by lunch, and finally got into the apartment at 1300.
With the sun setting by 2200, there was still plenty of daylight, so we headed out, intending to book tickets to the Uffizi Gallery for the next day, but ended up going straight in and wandering the halls for a couple hours. We also managed to fit in the Ponte Vecchio and Palazzo Pitti. My new fisheye lens came in very handy, and proved its usefulness with many photos of painted ceilings and large art-filled rooms that I wouldn’t have been able to capture quite so well otherwise.
After our trip to Pisa on the Saturday, we briefly rested at home till the early evening, and then headed out to Piazzale Michelangelo for some evening photos (in full daylight though) of the whole of Florence, followed by dinner at Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolò, where we dined in the former crypt of a church dating back to the year 1000. You don’t do that every day!
The food was delicious, from the outside you’d think it was just another restaurant, but I’d highly recommend it. I’m sure every restaurant is authentic in its own way, but we really enjoyed our meal here. It was also my third day in a row having carpaccio, haha.
Our last full day in Florence had us waking early to finally get into the Florence Cathedral and climb the 414 steps to the top of Giotto’s bell tower for a magnificent view of the area. Mum made it to the first level before sending me the rest of the way, and I then took all the photos, I’ve certainly had a workout today! The Florence Cathedral consists of several buildings, with the cathedral itself turning out to be the most boring, the Crypt of Santa Reparata being closed, Giotto’s bell tower containing all the steps – but giving some great views and exercise, the Baptistry of San Giovanni being incredibly ornate and the last piece of the jigsaw – Brunelleschi’s dome – was closed on Sunday but will be the last thing we do on Monday before heading to the airport.
From the Florence Cathedral we walked North to the Galleria dell’Accademia, where we saw Michelangelo’s David, and strangely, didn’t have any issues taking photos as I’d read would be a problem elsewhere. Heading East, we tried to visit the Basilica de Santa Croce, but an event at the Piazza Santa Croce blocked our way, so we could only view it from afar. It was a long day of exploring, needless to say.
Dinner tonight was at a pricier restaurant, Olio & Convivium. We chanced upon it on the way back to the apartment on our final afternoon, and as luck would have it we snagged the last table, with a view of the kitchen. I can’t recall all the finer points of the menu, but lime risotto with seaweed and prawns, pork cold cuts with cheese and chestnut honey, and cappuccino panna cotta to name but a selection of what we had, really completed our stay in Florence. Yes, it cost more than previous nights, but I was surprised this wasn’t Michelin starred, it was so good!
Our final morning was busy, with a brisk walk into town to climb the Dome, all 463 steps of which mum successfully accomplished, perhaps helped by the cool air of the morning. What a view too, perhaps just a little higher than from the top of the bell tower.