A day in Firenze


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Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Florence
September 25th 2014
Published: October 22nd 2017
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One of my favorite movies has long been "A Room with a View" from the novel by EM Forester. It stars an impossibly young Helena Bonham Carter as a British expat who falls in love in Florence. When we were in Italy in 1994, we never made it south of Siena so I had yet to see Florence.

I checked online and found that a day trip there from Rome is pretty easy. We took the Metro to the train station early and got the high speed rail to Firenze, about 90 minutes away. We had about 8 hours, so I also looked up some suggestions for self-guided walking tours. We found one that let you visit many of the important areas/buildings and choose a few to spend a little extra time investigating.

From the train station we made our way to the Duomo which is the largest domed building in the city and the centerpiece of the Florentine skyline. There was a really long line to climb up it unless you had the "Florence Pass." Probably a good investment during a longer stay. From there we went behind the Fountain of Neptune towards the church of Santa Croce (featured in
Marconi, inventor of the radio is one of many famous folks buried hereMarconi, inventor of the radio is one of many famous folks buried hereMarconi, inventor of the radio is one of many famous folks buried here

Marconi, inventor of the radio is one of many famous folks buried here
the movie). I had little flashbacks of Denholm Elliott giving a tour to HB Carter and Julian Sands evading a fast-talking salesman by dropping to his knees in prayer. In addition to being gorgeous inside and out, Santa Croce is where Galileo was buried not once, but twice. Machiavelli, Rossini and Dante both have found eternal rest there as well. It is apparently a very prestigious place to be interred. Many of the tombs are on the floor and much of the markings for them have been worn away by visitors walking on them.

After Santa Croce, we crossed the Ponte alle Grazie, taking in views of the Arno river. We grabbed panini at one of the smallest sandwich shops I've ever seen. The proprietress has about 3 feet of counter space and she assembles each sandwich to order from an assortment of ingredients laid out in front of her. Forget Subway, this woman is a sandwich artist. I had buffalo mozzarella, ham, curry paste and mushroom paste. It was phenomenal. L had something with tuna and tomatoes. Sandwiches in hand, we headed straight up an impressive hill to Piazzale Michelangelo. We didn't really know why we were going up there, but this stop is an absolute must for any visit to Florence. The view of the city took my breath away. I don't know that I've ever had such an emotional reaction to a landscape. Florence is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. Unconsciously wanting to leave a piece of me behind, I dropped my sunglasses up there somewhere. Bummer. At this point I also lost my description of our walk, so we had to wing it from there.

We headed back down the hill and I bought a little watercolor scene at a cubbyhole of a shop. We then went back up a wickedly steep hill paralleling the city wall. Eventually we got back through the city wall and headed back down toward the river and the Ponte Vecchio. This bridge has buildings along both sides going all the way across. Apparently in its early history, fishmongers, tanners and other tradesmen set up their stalls along the bridge. The wealthier citizens didn't care for the smell and the noise so they banished them and brought in jewelers and bankers to set up shop. That's pretty much what is there today. There was an enormous crush of people on
the bridge and we practically rushed to get off it. This is a bridge that is more attractive from a distance than up close.

From there we did a lot of aimless wandering. We stopped briefly and Ponte Santa Trinita where I had read that there was a good gelato place. We went to look at the exterior of the famous Uffizi Museum, sad that we really didn't have time to go inside. One thing that is pretty funny about Italy is that almost everywhere you go you see artifacts and art from other places. In turn, you read that there used to be specific pieces of art or artifacts where you are, but they are now somewhere else. It's a little like someone had a giant jigsaw puzzle and just spread pieces liberally around Western Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. In fact, sometimes things were purchased or traded, but more often they were pilfered or pillaged.

The train home was easy and uneventful. We thought L was leaving early the next morning for Paris so we skipped dinner and came back to pack. Around 10:30 she found out her meeting got canceled so we got a bonus day together in Rome: yay!


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The view of the city was even more breathtaking than I'd imagined.  From up on the hill, I've never seen a more beautiful skylineThe view of the city was even more breathtaking than I'd imagined.  From up on the hill, I've never seen a more beautiful skyline
The view of the city was even more breathtaking than I'd imagined. From up on the hill, I've never seen a more beautiful skyline

The view of the city was even more breathtaking than I'd imagined. From up on the hill, I've never seen a more beautiful skyline
Completed 1314, visited by me 2014.  Looks pretty good for 700 years old.Completed 1314, visited by me 2014.  Looks pretty good for 700 years old.
Completed 1314, visited by me 2014. Looks pretty good for 700 years old.

Completed 1314, visited by me 2014. Looks pretty good for 700 years old.
As if the Duomo were not enoughAs if the Duomo were not enough
As if the Duomo were not enough

As if the Duomo were not enough
Built in 1337 as a grain market.  They left the grain chutes in place even after they converted it to a churchBuilt in 1337 as a grain market.  They left the grain chutes in place even after they converted it to a church
Built in 1337 as a grain market. They left the grain chutes in place even after they converted it to a church

Built in 1337 as a grain market. They left the grain chutes in place even after they converted it to a church
The actual David is here in Florence.  We did not see it, but did see multiple life-sized copies.The actual David is here in Florence.  We did not see it, but did see multiple life-sized copies.
The actual David is here in Florence. We did not see it, but did see multiple life-sized copies.

The actual David is here in Florence. We did not see it, but did see multiple life-sized copies.
Marconi, inventor of the radio is one of many famous folks buried hereMarconi, inventor of the radio is one of many famous folks buried here
Marconi, inventor of the radio is one of many famous folks buried here

Marconi, inventor of the radio is one of many famous folks buried here
The view of the city was even more breathtaking than I'd imagined.  From up on the hill, I've never seen a more beautiful skylineThe view of the city was even more breathtaking than I'd imagined.  From up on the hill, I've never seen a more beautiful skyline
The view of the city was even more breathtaking than I'd imagined. From up on the hill, I've never seen a more beautiful skyline

The view of the city was even more breathtaking than I'd imagined. From up on the hill, I've never seen a more beautiful skyline
Completed 1314, visited by me 2014.  Looks pretty good for 700 years old.Completed 1314, visited by me 2014.  Looks pretty good for 700 years old.
Completed 1314, visited by me 2014. Looks pretty good for 700 years old.

Completed 1314, visited by me 2014. Looks pretty good for 700 years old.
As if the Duomo were not enoughAs if the Duomo were not enough
As if the Duomo were not enough

As if the Duomo were not enough
Built in 1337 as a grain market.  They left the grain chutes in place even after they converted it to a churchBuilt in 1337 as a grain market.  They left the grain chutes in place even after they converted it to a church
Built in 1337 as a grain market. They left the grain chutes in place even after they converted it to a church

Built in 1337 as a grain market. They left the grain chutes in place even after they converted it to a church


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