Sunday, 25 October 2015

Travel: Three Days in Florence

Day one

Travel- After breakfast and coffee at our Rome hotel we headed to Roma Termini to wait for our train to Florence. I'd already booked and printed our tickets at home via Trenitalia. It was all very straightforward. We had booked seats and just had to show our printed tickets. 

Accommodation- This was my first time using AirBnB. The communication from my host was excellent. I'd already worked out my route from the train station to the apartment but about a week before we went, our host got in touch with excellent directions and options for getting there.

The walk through the centre of Florence was beautiful. We passed the cathedral, known as the Duomo which was far more stunning and massive than I could ever imagine. There were tourists everywhere but I was so over-awed by Florence that I didn't mind.


Our apartment was about ten minutes walk from the centre of Florence, near the river. The building was a monastery long ago and has been sympathetically modernised. We had a decent bathroom, and a kitchen area off the bedroom/living area. We felt very comfortable and relaxed staying at the apartment and I highly recommend AirBnb!

Activities- We arrived in Florence mid-afternoon, feeling quite warm and tired. We popped to a local supermarket to buy water, prosecco and snacks. I loved Florence instantly. Although it was a busy, touristy city, it felt far more relaxed than Rome. After snacks and a nap, we got ready to walk into the centre and have dinner.

Food- I'd made a reservation at Irene Bistro at The Savoy after reading rave reviews on some Italian blogs. The location was beautiful and I loved the stylish, modern interior. I had an excellent tomato and mozarella salad. It was probably the best salad I've ever eaten. For my main I had Porchetta which I was less impressed by. Nice, but nothing stood out. It's not a dish I'll dream about, unlike the salad.

Afterwards, we walked across the Ponte Vecchio. This was heaving with tourists and dreadful acoustic guitar players. We walked up the river to the next bridge- Ponte alle Grazie. This is less impressive looking but it has the greatest view of Ponte Vecchio at night.

Being on Ponte Vecchio is just like being on a busy tourist road. Looking at it from a distance is one of the most stunning views in the world.

Day two

Dress: Sugarhill Boutique, Shoes: M&S, Bag: Alphabet Bags, Sunglasses: RayBan

Activities- I really just wanted to wander round Florence with no real plan. I was keen to see some of the sights mentioned in A Room with a View. 

We thought about climbing the Bell Tower at the Duomo but the queue was long so we headed back the next day. Santa Croce is an important part of A Room with a View and Ruskin's Mornings in Florence opens with a decription. The frontage of Santa Croce is similar to the Duomo but it is not continued round the side. There is an impressive statue of Dante outside, who was banished and so not entombed within the basilica.

We walked round to Piazza della Signoria, where the Palazzo Vecchio and Uffizi Gallery are. There's also a magnificent display of statues. I don't love classical sculpture but I liked the Perseus statue which you can see here from behind. With this sort of place, it's easy to go round taking a picture of every single statue so I tried to just look and appreciate rather than wasting my time!

After lunch we headed back to Santa Croce. Ruskin hated the roof; he thought it was like a barn. I've not seen any barns like this.

There are frescos by Giotto which are from the 1300s, later painted over and restored later still. I'm not a fan of medieval religious art but it was amazing to think how long ago they had been originally painted.

Another reason Santa Croce is important is because of the tombs and memorials to important Italians including Rossini and Michelangelo.

We wandered out the back way where we found some beautiful, peaceful gardens, and this friendly chap.

Food- We had to visit a gelateria I'd seen on Instagram. My Sugar Firenze is a really lovely little shop with interesting flavours, made on-site. I had strawberry and milk tea, Edd had chocolate sorbet and something else which he has forgotten. He assures me it was nice.

For lunch, we went to a place called ZaZa where I had a gorgeous bowl of spaghetti and lobster for 8 euros.

We headed to a street food event for dinner and there will be a blog post about that soon.

Day three

Activities- We woke up early so we could get to Giotto's Bell Tower at the Duomo. It was drizzling and a little cooler,so a great day to climb 414 steps. The queue was shorter than usual when we got there so we only had to wait for around fifteen minutes. If you want to climb any of Florenze's heights you really need to get there early.

It's not like we were bored queuing when we had this to look at.

The climb wasn't that fun. The staircase was very narrow and you had to stop every so often to let people coming back down go past. The views at every level were worth it though.

Top- Oasis, Skirt- Muji, Bag- Alphabet Bags

The views were incredible. I particularly liked the view of the queue which had lengthened significantly.

I had tickets booked for the Uffizi and I was so glad as the queue was massive. Again, I highly recommend booking tickets.

You could take photos in there but I chose not to as I don't like pictures of pictures. Trying to see The Birth of Venus surrounded by people taking photos of it on their ipads was incredibly annoying. I want to take pictures of things in an interesting way. You can do this with food, with architecture, with views. I don't know how you would take an interesting picture of a picture.

Now, lots of people disagree with me. My friend suggested people do it to remember that they saw this super piece of art. Well, I know that I've been round the Uffizi and if you want to see the pictures google it.

I've got a post coming up about Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and you will see how I was trying to avoid taking pictures of pictures.

There's a lot of medieval religious art at the Uffizi. I much preferred when we got into the Dutch section. I really admired the skill involved in painting candlelit scenes.

We headed out onto the terrace which had a splendid view of the Palazzo Vecchio.

Food- For lunch we grabbed sandwiches from a lovely bakery in the centre and for dinner we ate the most amazing burgers at Drogheria near our Air BnB.

Top tips

*Book tickets or get up early.
*Read A Room with a View.
*Don't spend too much time on the Ponte Vecchio- walk to the next bridge down and appreciate the view.

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1 comment:

Kezzie said...

So much to comment on. When I see these views from the bell tower, it reminds me that this was where my husband proposed-on one of the floors of the bell tower!!! Happy memories!
Secondly, yes, the Uffizi was really annoying for that reason!!! We queued for hours and somehow MISSED the birth of Venus and had to walk through again.
Air bnb is great-we did virtually our entire honeymoon in air bnb places and stayed in some quirky places including an old rural pub which was converted into a studio apartment!!!x