When I arrived in Florence I had no intention of buying a leather jacket. "Come into my shop and have a look. Just for fun," said a beaming shop keeper... you can see where this is going. End result: after some 'skillful' negotiation, I am now the proud owner of a very nice Italian made, camel leather jacket for about the same price as two nights in a backpackers. I'm on a roll. Where's a shoe shop?
As it was I did end up getting a pair of shoes too. But our little shopping spree didn't stop there. Cat found a way to beat the crisp temperatures with some stylish leather gloves and a cashmere scarf or two. And we topped off our decadent splurge with a new leather wallet each.
That isn't to say that we were too busy shopping to notice the surroundings. How could you? Florence is so beautuful. Unbelievably narrow little streets filled with cute shops and restaurants branched out in all directions. Despite passing the Duomo complex several times each day in our wanderings, we couldn't get over the size of the complex which dominates the Florentine skyline. The attention to detail and the scale of the marble inlay work on the exterior was Taj Mahal-like, but with sculptures poking out all over the place too.
As it is rated as one of the best art galleries in the world, we duly queued up in the cold outside the Uffizi to to see what the hype was all about. Having seemingly pillaged every 12th to 14th century altar piece from the entire country over the years, we rapidly got a feeling of deja vu as in room after room 'The Adoration of the Magi' and 'The Deposition' dominated the walls (we lost count for each one after 12). The Botticelli room with the original "Birth of Venus" and "Primavera" was suitably impressive. While the room of the Hermaphrodite contained some rather 'curious' statues.
At the Accedemia gallery the entrance price was worth it just to see Michelangelo's David, although after seeing it for real I was secretly thinking that Bernini's one in Rome was better.
After a busy morning in the markets and museums, nothing filled the gap quite like a toasty hot foccacini from a tiny restaurant opposite the central market. Full of locals, always a good sign, you could choose from a huge range of tasty fillings which they toasted up in the pizza oven for you. With so many good fillings it was difficult to pick a favourite. Although pesto with mozzarella and tomato with olive and mozzarella were up there. Melty goodness!