Friday, September 10, 2010


Struggled for a couple of hours before getting a city bus down to the train station for our Hop-on, Hop-off bus tour. Two strangers kindly explained on the city bus that you need to buy tickets first in a Tabacci and then validate them in a machine on the bus. They kindly let us use their tickets so we wouldn’t risk the over 200E fine for not having one.

We eventually got sorted out, found our tour bus stop (you need help for this because they aren’t obvious) and off we went through the narrow, buzzing streets of magical Florence.

First stop, a hillside lookout with a wonderful view over the city, then Il Duomo. A vast building, with Campanile and enormous baptistery sharing a tiny clearing in the heart of town, it’s difficult to stand far enough away from it to see it all. The interior is a paean of praise to God in intricate marble, with the enormous painted ceiling of the dome glowing above. The outside seems even more elaborate with the famous doors and their trim which is so densely carved that it looks like marble lace.

After, we strolled through the Uffizzi (the Medici’s “office”) courtyard with all its statues (the David is a replica, but no less impressive for it) to the bank of the Arno, a stone’s throw from the Ponte Vecchio. Festooned with what are now jeweller’s shops but were once houses, it is overshadowed by an enclosed walkway that leads all the way from the Uffizi to the Pitti Palace, so that the ruling, unloved Medicis could walk home from the office to their palace without fear of getting wet or assassinated.

Over the bridge we went, sheltering in the shops during a brief shower, and on to the Pitti Palace. Reg had particularly wanted to see the renowned Boboli Gardens, behind the palace, and since none of us wanted to visit the palace museum, we bought the cheaper, 10E tickets to see the gardens. After passing through Security (where my Swiss army knife was removed with some tut-tuts) we proceeded to the enormous gardens. Other than a few statues, some lawns and a lot of climbing, there were only trees in the garden, no flowers. Wrong time of year? Feeling underwhelmed, we retrieved my knife from Security and walked to the nearest hop-on, hop-off stop and resumed the tour.

The bus took us up into the hills to a place called Fizzeole that overlooks Florence. Beautiful is the only word to describe the views. Tired by now, we stayed on the bus till it got back to the Stadio near where we are staying, and walked home.

For supper, we wandered around the corner about 7PM and came across a tiny restaurant called tre panches (Three Benches:  It contained exactly three benches, with room for 18 people. We were joined by a charming couple from Chicago who had been looking all over Florence for this restaurant. It turned out that the owners had been discovered by a Neiman-Marcus executive, who was so impressed by their skill that he regularly flies them over to the U.S. to cater their executive meetings. Needless to say, the meal was fantastic. With a great bottle of local wine and interesting conversation with our new friends, the evening was one to remember.

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1 comment:

  1. Great narrative and pics! I look forward to reading your posts every morning...

    Cheers and Love,