To be honest, Florence has felt a bit overwhelming at times, but in a good way. There is so much to see and do here, so much beauty, and it can be almost difficult to choose what to do or where to go at times. Both Brett and I are feeling very grateful that we are here for a month versus just a few days.
For the past few days all we’ve pretty much done is walk around and look at things from the outside. We started the day yesterday with a walk to the train station to purchase tickets for an overnight visit to the Cinque Terre next week. We had initially thought to go all the way to Monterosso al Mare, at the top, but instead just bought tickets to Riomaggiore, the village closest to Florence. The weather is predicted to be less than good next week, and we may end up needing to buy a round trip ticket from Riomaggiore up to Monterosso, and then riding the train back down to visit each village versus being able to hike between the villages as we hope to do (we’re staying overnight in Manarolo).
Afterward we bought our tickets we walked around the beautiful Santa Maria Novella church and square, and then went over to see Santa Maria del Fiore. We walked around the Duomo with our mouths wide open, but lines to go inside literally wrapped around the building so we decided to face those another day. I would love to go up inside into the dome, but my knee won’t allow it (I could go up but would never make it down), so that’s something Brett will do on his own one day while I maybe do some other sightseeing or shopping. I had always thought from pictures the exterior was black stone with white, so was pleasantly surprised to see the beautiful deep green stone instead.
Today we walked down the street to view the frescoes at the Brancacci Chapel (which were breathtaking), then shared a pizza. We wanted to visit the Boboli Gardens but dark clouds rolled in and it began sprinkling, and we did not want to be stuck out in the middle of the gardens if it began to rain any harder. We instead walked down close to the Ponte Vecchio and then turned down a side street to check out a gelato shop. The owner of the shop was born in China, but has lived in Florence for 21 years, and we had a lovely conversation with him while we enjoyed his wonderful gelato. After that we headed back to the apartment with a stop at a small produce shop for a head of broccoli and some pears to go with dinner tonight.
We plan to make day trips to both San Gimignano and Siena in the next couple of weeks, and have to figure when to fit those in as well as visits to the Uffizi and Accademia museums, where tickets will need to be purchased in advance. We learned today though at the gelateria that all museums will be open for free on November 4, so we’re thinking we’ll get up early that day and walk over to visit the Accademia (supposedly the lines won’t be very long this time of year). As far as dining we want to go out for bistecca fiorentina one evening, have antipasti and risotto for lunch at least once, and have a few more pizza (pasta I can fix at the apartment).
We have only one other definite thing on our calendar now though, a pizza class a few days before departing for Rome. We had a coupon from Airbnb to use toward an experience, and after going over all of the ones offered here in Florence we decided learning to make (and eat) pizza sounded like the most fun. Brett already makes a pretty good pie, but he’s hoping to pick up a few tricks and techniques to up his game.
This weather this weekend is predicted to be stormy, so we’re thinking of maybe going to the Mercado Centrale on Saturday or visiting the Palazzo Pitti, and then just staying in on Sunday to read and plan future outings.
Florence truly is an embarrassment of riches. It’s almost unbelievable to have so many choices of what to do and see each day.