A Taste of Italy: Part 1 – Firenza Day 2

Posted: 24 April 2015 in Travel
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Panoramic view of Florence

Day 2

Corridor by Ponte Vecchio

Corridor by Ponte Vecchio

The one thing I never seem to get used to is walking on cobblestone roads. They are not very foot friendly to those unaccustomed to walking on them. Such as myself. But that was the least of my worries. Day 2 was filled with more hindrances than we expected. The plan for the day had been to explore Il Duomo and then whatever else depending on how much time we had left. What he hadn’t taken into account was the religious holiday, so we had to improvise a bit. Well, a lot.

So. With Il Duomo pushed to tomorrow (the tower was still open, but we opted to wait to see it all at once), we took a few pictures and decided to go across the river. We wound our way through the streets of Florence so we could cross the river via Ponte Vecchio. The bridge is still filled with shops mostly selling jewellery. We didn’t spend too much time on it, which looking back now I kind of regret.

Once off the bridge, we veered away from the crowds and walked along the river. What I loved about walking along the river was it somehow connected me to Florence. I felt more grounded, more at ease. From the river we followed the signs down a multitude of streets (which I almost wrote down until I realised there was like six different street names) to Viale Galileo, which is a long staircase that leads up to Piazzale Michelangelo.

Replica of the David at Piazzale Michelangelo

Replica of the David at Piazzale Michelangelo

The panoramic view of the city was incredible. I couldn’t help but be filled with awe at the beauty of Firenza. We strolled about the plaza casually taking in the experience before moving on back down the hill. To the left of Piazzale Michelangelo along the staircase we climbed was the Giardino della Rose. It is a beautiful garden that I definitely recommend walking through. It even has a part with an Asian influence.

Here’s where we took a wrong turn. The street to Fort Belvedere is on Via di Belvedere. For some reason we couldn’t get a signal and we didn’t have a very reliable map, but we knew it was on a big street close to the garden. So we took the first one we came to and walked for an eternity only to discover that we had taken the wrong road. We did find a nice little park and get a nice view of the countryside on the back end of Florence, so it wasn’t so bad.

It didn’t seem to make a difference that we got lost because when we finally got to Fort Belvedere it wasn’t even open. We found that strange as there was no sign or anything explaining why it wasn’t open. Next we tried our luck getting to Palazzo Pitti. The quickest way there would have been down through the Giardino di Boboli. What we didn’t realise was that it cost money to even get into the gardens. That resulted in us having to take the long way around. At this point I was starting to get frustrated.

Fort Belvedere

Fort Belvedere

When we finally looped our way around to get to Palazzo Pitti, it was early afternoon and the piazza was packed. Come to find, the Palazzo is not all there is to do there. There are the Boboli Gardens, the Palazzo Pitti, the Museo degli Argenti, and a couple galleries. The main three are the Museo, the Palazzo, and the Giardino, which you can buy passes for everything or all singularly. We were going to do that and were standing in line, but the line was moving so slowly and we were getting pretty hungry. So we didn’t. Instead, we walked to where the Basilica di Santo Spirito was (which was also closed naturally) and snagged a snack.

Rather than head back to Palazzo Pitti, we crossed the Arno back towards Il Duomo as we knew there were many places to eat in the area. We searched for a bit and stumbled upon a fantastic little place called Osteria Nuvoli. When we walked in, we had no idea there was actually a restaurant in the basement. It was amazing. The food was delicious, the staff and other guests were very accommodating, and the feel was so calm and relaxed. I think we were some of the only non-italians there. It is a place I would highly recommend. If my rave isn’t enough, check out these other reviews. Just take my word for it and go eat there.

The David

The David

After a late but very satisfying lunch, we attempted to visit the Uffizi Gallery. We stood in line for a while, but it wasn’t moving. I know John really wanted to see it, but he also wanted to see the David, so we decided to head there as the museum is closed on mondays. Once again, we got lost. The directions John had led us to the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata. There was some sort of market being held and we searched all around, but found no museum. We felt defeated and exhausted and were almost at our wits end. We took a right onto a street and as we neared the next intersection we heard a commotion and to our happiness, we found the Museo dell’Accademia.

This time we decided to buy our tickets from a ticket booth across from the museum so we could get in a little quicker than standing in line for hours. And it worked. There are two separate lines: one for those with thickets and one for those without tickets. The line for those with tickets moves lots faster. So be sure and get your tickets beforehand. They also have timed slots, which is very convenient. The museum was fantastic and the David was incredible. Technically, no one is allowed to photograph the statue, but if you look around no one obeys that rule (like me). It was so cool to be in the presence of such an iconic piece of art. Reminds me of when I stumbled upon the Venus de Milo in the Louvre (read about that here). I’m so glad we got to see it.

All in all, day 2 was frustratingly adventurous. We covered a lot of ground, saw a lot of really cool stuff, and ate some delicious food. After the museum we were too exhausted to care if we saw anything else. So we stopped at a Despar shop for some food stuff across from the historic Sagrestia Vecchia and then headed back to the hostel.

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