Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Italy, Day 6: Florence

Rich left for a cooking class, so Jennifer and I were on our own to explore Florence. We decided to take one of the tour buses to get an overview of the city. For I think €10, we got tickets for the Hop On Hop Off (Big Red Bus). I've done similar tours in London and Savannah. We climbed up to the top level so we'd get good views even though it was another chilly day! We plugged in our little red headphones and tuned into English on the menu of language choices. It was an interesting tour, but I had a really hard time understanding which building was being described on the recorded guide.

This is the Arno River that flows through Florence.

Lots of scooters and motorcycles... Hmmm, this looks like something important....?
We didn't hop off until the end, just took the ride and decided if we wanted to we'd come back and ride it to some of the more interesting spots later. It was cold up there!

We went to get a coffee, then decided to go hit the markets that were right outside our hotel.These stalls had the basic souvenirs, but also tons of leather and pashminas! The prices were great, but we attempted to haggle a little. I managed to get €1 or €2 knocked off the prices of a couple of things, but I think they were just humoring me. Looking between some of the stalls, I saw a doorway that led into a big beautiful indoor food market, so we went to check that out too. I wish I could have brought home some of this! One stall just had dozens of different kinds of dried mushrooms, and of course there were wine stalls and flowers....

We also found a really cute stationery shop and asked the girl there to recommend a good place to get a panini for lunch. She sent us to a place a couple of doors down, delicious!

Then it was time to head towards the Uffizi Gallery to meet back up with Rich. I was excited to see Botticelli's Birth of Venus. By the way, neither of my cotravelers had heard of the Masterpiece game, tell me I'm not the only one that loved that game growing up?
On the way there, we passed Florence's Duomo.

These are the golden doors of the Baptistry, the Door to Paradise.The details on the building are unbelievable and it's hard to take it all in. It's hard to show the scale of it.

This is near the Uffizi. Notice the hazy looking building on the right. We saw this alot -- it's actually just a facade hiding the scaffolding while the building is being restored. Much nicer to look at than exposed construction!

No photos allowed inside the Uffizi. Afterwards we walked toward the Arno River.
This is the Ponte Vecchio Bridge -- home to lots of jewelry shops! I did a little more shopping here.
Then to dinner. I believe this was a restaurant recommended by our hotel called Trattoria ZaZa
I had a risotto al funghi (mushroom), fabulous!

When we first got to Florence, I was a little overwhelmed. It seemed like such a busy city and we hadn't really been around all the buses and traffic before this. But after the tour and wandering around the city on foot, I really liked it. This is definitely somewhere I'd like to return and spend more time. It's also in a great location to take day trips by train to other cities, or drive out to experience Tuscany. I'll show you that next...

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