Monday 18th June 2018
We arrived in Florence yesterday afternoon and just relaxed after our big days in the Cinque Terre and Portovenere and travelling on the train. We did go for a walk and I found a handbag that talked to me, as the shoulder strap on my amazing Vietnamese handbag had broken on the trip to Cinque Terre. We found a place to eat a late lunch, which was ok. Phil had prosciutto pizza and I had gnocchi. It was really nice. We then went back to the room and relaxed. We went for a walk later on in the afternoon and explored just around the hotel. Our hotel is a very short walk from the main train station, across the road from the Santo Maria Novella Church. We got back to our room and did some further research to discover that all of the main museums are closed on Mondays. We booked onto a guided tour for Tuesday that goes to the museum with the statue of David and the Uffizi along with the Duomo. We needed an early night as we have an early start tomorrow morning for our photo tour in Florence. We need to be up at 5:30 am to meet the photographer just before 6:00am in the foyer.
We met our photographer, Simone (pronounced Simm – on – ay), who was very punctual. He led us out into the world of early morning Florence. We first headed for San Lorenzo. It was really lovely. He would give us tips to compose our photos and not just to take what we first see, to have a better look to see if there is a better angle or way to get the shot.
After exploring different angles, we were off again. It was so quiet in Florence at this hour. There were hardly any people around at all. We walked down a street and turned a corner to see this:
It was such an amazing sight and so unexpected as we were being guided by Simone. With beauty such as this in front of us, we explored this amazing cathedral complex form many different angles with the gentle rising sun spotlighting some of its beautiful features.
We then turned around and saw how beautiful the facade of the Baptistry was.
It truly was stunning, and hardly any people around. (It was 6:30 in the morning though!) After this amazing sight, we were off wandering the streets of Florence again. The streets are very picturesque and we took many photos of the buildings and different streetscapes that we saw.
Our next main site that we arrived at was the Piazza Della Signoria. This was also beautiful.
We then headed over to the Galleria Degli Uffizi (which was closed today being Monday). Simone explained to us about how the Medici’s (an important family in Florence’s history) had their offices in what is now the Uffizi to run their empire.
We crossed the road to get our first view of the Ponte Vecchio and the Arno River. Wow! Wow! Wow! It was stunning. I know – I’ll have to find some other adjectives and superlatives.
After feasting our eyes (and taking WAY more photos than just this) we headed up to cross the bridge. The morning light was just spectacular shining on this bridge and causing the reflections in the water. It truly was spectacular.
We then crossed the bridge to see the Piazza Dei Pitti. Unfortunately the light wasn’t great here. We then wandered down to the Santa Spirito. This church is dedicated to the Holy Spirit so isn’t anywhere near as ornate as some of the other churches we’ve seen today.
Outside of the church was a square with people selling different items. There was an old lady with a fruit and vegetable stall. The fruit and vegetables looked so fresh and succulent.
There was a fruit that we didn’t recognise. Simone bought us one each to try. Mine was so juicy that when I bit into it, some juice spurted out. They kind of looked like apricots and tasted like them too. Simone said they are a local fruit called the nespole.
After here, we continued our wandering. The city was well and truly awake now and starting to get really busy (it was 9:00 am after all).
We crossed the Arno again using the Ponte All Carraia and continued our wanderings back to the Piazza Della Signoria.
We stopped at one of the oldest churches in Florence. It was the most important church before the Duomo was built. It was called the Parrocchia Santi Apostili e Biagio. It was so beautiful.
The Piazza Della Signoria was MUCH busier by the time we got there at 10:00 am). Simone had a chat with us and then left to go home. We relaxed for a while and then wandered back towards our hotel, after detouring past the Duomo.
We made it to a cafe next to our hotel and ordered breakfast. Luckily for us, the chef was okay to make it as it was 11:40am by this stage. It was perfect. We were watching the recap of the World Cup, in Italian of course. An American family came and sat down at the table next to us and we started chatting.
We enjoyed talking to them for a while and just taking in this amazing place. We headed back to the hotel to relax and to start editing over 600 photos that I had taken and Phil’s 200. We are about to go out exploring to get the afternoon light for the photos. We have a walking tour booked for tomorrow visiting Florence’s best sites.