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Chris & Lindee see the world

Florence begins

ITALY | Wednesday, 25 January 2017 | Views [243]

Florence Duomo

Florence Duomo

Our trip from Riomaggiore to Florence was uneventful. Our train moved away from the coast at a good pace for a regional train (about 145km top speed). The coastal plains receded and we made our way into and through the Tuscan landscape. Being a regional train meant it stopped regularly along the way; dropping off and picking up travellers and local commuters. Our train remained on time all the way to Florence and we made the short walk to meet our airbnb host, Marco, in plenty of time. Our apartment is very comfortable and perfectly located For exploring Florence on foot.

Once settled in, we made our way out to see what the city has to offer. Wow! We're just a short distance away from the Duomo (we can see the tip of it from our bedroom window) so that was our first stop. It's huge, and must have taken us 10 minutes just to walk around it. Although it looks specatacular in the evening light a full exploration would have to wait until the morning. Dinner was on Marco's recommendation at the Mercato Centrale. The first floor of the market is full of restaurant style kitchens selling everything Italian to delight our tastebuds. Mozzarella, tomato, olives and pizza. Perfect.

After a good sleep and a nice relaxed start our Florentine adventure truly began. Off to get our tickets for entry into the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fiore...CLIMBING THE DOME! We really had no idea what we were in for. Well over 400 steps, through narrow passageways and stairwells, until finally we made it to the top. The views were certainly spectacular and I'd say I managed to work off last nights pizza and cannoli. Oh, and then we had to walk DOWN over 400 steps. The Basilica itself is massive. It has a main altar which has other chapels with their own altars branching off at various angles. The ceiling is a spectacular display of artistic talent. Below the Basilica is a history of the site with archaeological remnants of its very early days. We decided not to climb the bell tower but explored the Baptistery. Fancy creating a completely separate building for baptisms. And it also has a spectacular ceiling and walls covered in incredible frescoes.

After a visit to the nearby museum our hunger got the better of us. Time for more Italian delights. We found a restaurant that promised (Chris) a Florentine steak (almost half a cow); and for me some salmon. Simple and delicious.

Refuelled...the River Arno called. So beautiful to wander through the streets, piazzas and laneways and soak in the Italianness. The sun was shining as we reached the river and made our way along to the Ponte Vecchio...as you do. The bridge is lined with jewellery stores as it has been for hundreds of years. On the other side we found a little gelato shop...strawberry to share today. We thought maybe the Boboli Gardens might be nice to wander through, until we saw the stair climb required to get there. We took the long way back across the river, passed below the Vasari Corridor, by the Uffizi Gallery, through the Piazza della Signora and more narrow streets and smaller piazzas to the train station. We have our first class tickets to Rome for Monday, and organised a couple of tours to explore Tuscany and nearby cities. 

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