Today we took a break from the hard work of laying around by the pool and popped into Florence. We’ve been before but we missed the inside of the Cathedral and Santa Croce so we did those, walked about a bit and came back.
Florence is 40 minutes up the Austostrada from where we are so not a long journey. We parked in an underground garage near the main rail station, one of these “leave your keys” joints with cars everywhere, half of them up on jacks so another can be parked below it. Worked fine though and cost 17 euro for about eight hours.
It was hot, stifling is better, so we weren’t in the mood for a massive walking tour and we’d done all the Uffizis and Davids last time so we stuck to what we’d missed. Straight for the Duomo or Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (English: Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower) to name it precisely. It’s fairly impressive from the outside with the Duomo, Campanile (tower thing) and Baptistry complementing each other. There’s also something about Brunelleschi’s dome that really does top the whole thing off nicely. A glance at the baptistry doors, “gates of paradise” in particular, is compulsory so you can point out the included self portrait head of Lorenzo Ghiberti, the guy who designed them.
Inside the Duomo I have to say is pretty disappointing, certainly compared to the inside of the similar building in Siena for example. Really quite dull compared to the outside whereas Siena gets better inside. We didn’t bother with the million steps up to the gallery around the dome. Can’t think why in 38C.
After coffee and ice cream and more coffee and more ice cream, macchiato being the order of the day, we found our way to the Basilica di Santa Croce. The burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile and Rossini. It is also apparently the biggest Franciscan church in the world. We found the tombs, wandered around a bit admired the Donatello and Giotto handycraft and then went in search of more food and drink.
Along the way we found various opportunities to embarrass Zosia and generally use a nine year old in the way most parents do. This included posing with an Egyptian street statue person (they need to come up with something new, the whole Egyptian thing is getting boring now), being funny between two old stone statues and sticking her face into a Pinocchio thing that was standing outside the ubiquitous wooden toy shop. This must be why they rebel when they are teenagers.
A wander down the bank of the Arno took us past the Uffizi to the Ponte Vecchio, a messy and over populated bridge that I always imagine to be similar to the original London bridge, following the medieval habit of covering bridges with buildings. Turning right toward the Piazza Della Signoria we found the shop selling yummy fruit ice lollys that Marta was dreaming of so we had three of those.
A, now slowing rapidly, stroll through streets full of African salesmen and leather goods found us in a square (more of a triangle really) at the front of the Mercator Centrale where;
At 4:37 PM on Tuesday, December 13, 2011,: “An Italian man with extreme right-wing views opened fire in an outdoor market in Florence Tuesday, killing two vendors from Senegal, then critically wounded three other Senegalese immigrants in another Florence market before killing himself.”
Those handbag salesmen are annoying but this is a bit extreme.
We ordered a simple dinner of lasagne, spaghetti alle vongole and caprese salad, which combined with cokes, waters and coffees set us back €50. Not too bad and tasty food.
That was it, the exit of working Florentines from the city had finished and so we extracted the car and made our way back to base to be greeted by a small thunderstorm. Nothing by Warsaw standards but enough to please the farmers hereabouts.
Some crappy iPhone snaps below.