28.01.2020 - 29.01.2020 14 °C
We said our goodbyes to Venice as we walked from our hotel to the train station, not an easy trek as our bags were heavier as we traversed over the bridges. After spending a week in Venice we were leaving with mixed emotions, after becoming accustomed and familiar to finding our way around the streets, but also looking forward to a new place and adventure. About an hour later we arrived at the station, had an espresso, looked around the shops, bought lunch and readied to board the train. The high speed train journey was less scenic as we headed through farmlands and then headed through the alps which meant some time was spent travelling through tunnels. Arriving in Florence on a slightly gloomy day we walked through the historic centre of town to our accommodation.
The unit is only 100m from Pizza della Signoria, the historic, political and artistic centre of Florence. The unit itself has everything we could possibly need, has just recently been renovated and is huge compared to our tiny hotel room in Venice. The only negative is the lack of lift and that it is on the third floor of the unit block. After settling in, we headed out to explore our neighbourhood, find the tourism office and local grocery store. Fortunately we are in a very good location and very close to everything needed. While we were out and about we quickly looked at the Arno river, Duomo and the great buildings in our area.
The next morning after a late start, we headed for a “free” walking historic tour of the city. During the tour we learnt about the history of various churches, including the Duomo. We also learnt about Chianti wine production, local Florentine delicacies, the understated external architecture of family homes adorned with a shield or crest, a sign post notating who lived where and of course the role the Medici played in the development and political leadership of the city. Heading to the Duomo the guide taught us about the significance of the colours in the marble, it’s origins and the historic importance of the doors of the baptistry with one set crafted by Michelangelo. It is interesting that the tradition of having an external place to baptise citizens was because the Catholic Church did not allow non Catholics on the sacred ground of the church. Another interesting fact that would have been missed if it wasn’t pointed out was the height of the 1966 floods. Many corners and buildings show the height the water reached, sometimes waist height and others up to the 2nd storey of the buildings. The tour ended at another historic church just around the corner from our unit, so we ducked home for lunch, passing a local resident with a Ferrari entering one of the city car parks, who of course revs the car as the throaty engine echoes off the buildings in the narrow streets.
After lunch we headed over the Ponte Vecchio to explore the other side of town before walking up the hill to the Piazzale Michelangelo. The Piazzale offers a spectacular view over the whole city. No building can be higher than the Cupola on the Duomo, which stands at 112m. On the way we had a look at the old city walls dating back to Roman times and waterfalls built into the side of hill. Dusk is a wonderful time to wander the city streets, window shop and as it got darker the lit up city monuments provided another perspective as does the changing skyline as night settles in.