Italy (day 2) – Florence
Monday, 22 July 2013
In the morning, we had breakfast in the hotel. It was served at the restaurant on 1st floor. Given the excellent breakfast experience I had in Rome in December 2011 (blogpost here), I had high expectations on the one here. While the cappuccino lived up to its Italian reputation, the food in general was just average.
After breakfast, we continued to explore the streets of Florence. We passed by Casa di Dante, the house of the legendary Florentine poet, Dante Alighieri. Dante (died in 1321CE) is equivalent to Shakespeare in the English speaking world. He is also known as the father of the Italian language.
After that we went to visit Basilica of San Lorenzo (1470CE). We admired the basilica from the outside while exploring a famous street market nearby. The street market is part of the San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale. The leather goods sold at this market was of good quality and reasonable price (not that cheap though). I even bought a couple of fine leather belts myself!
As we exit the street market, we find ourselves quite near to the train station. It just so happen that Florence City Sightseeing bus (website) had a stop on that street. We quickly bought tickets and board the next bus. I like these City Sightseeing buses. The price is reasonable, it comes with commentary (sometimes live, sometimes recorded), and you get a quick view of the entire city along with its key attractions.
Since it was really hot, we sat downstairs in the cool air-conditioned section. I can see other western tourists looking at us thinking why are we not in the open-air section enjoying the sun. It’s hard to explain. I doubt they will understand. Haha!
We listened to the audio guide as we passed by various attractions. We got off at Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square) to enjoy the view and take photos. This square is well known for its panoramic view of Florence (photo above). After we were done taking photos, we took the next Sightseeing bus and headed back to the city.
After we got back to the city, we had a coffee break along Via del Proconsolo, near the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. The cafe had excellent chocolate croissant!
Once we regained our energy, we started walking around. We passed by the Uffizi, which we plan to visit the next day. From The Uffizi, we headed to Ponte Vecchio. Ponte Vecchio was rebuilt in 1345CE. The original stone bridge was documented to be around as early as 996CE. Now it’s mainly a tourist attraction where most shops on the bridge sell jewellery.
The photo of Ponte Vecchio above was taken from Ponte Santa Trinita (marked as number 2 in map above), a bridge to the west of the famous bridge. From Santa Trinita, we headed north and passed by Piazza Santa Trinita.
In the middle of the piazza is Colonna della Giustizia (Column of Justice). This Roman column was originally situated in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. Pope Pius IV gave it as a gift to Cosimo 1, the first Grand Duke of Florence, in 1560. In the same piazza is the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum. This museum is dedicated to the life and work of Italian shoe designer by the same name.
Later in the evening, after dinner, we were walking nearby Piazza della Signoria when we heard an orchestra performance. As we approached the square, we could see a live concert being held inside The Loggia dei Lanzi, with the audience sitting down in the middle of the square. It was a spectacular view! We managed to find a spot with a good view. The orchestra was part of the Festival delle Orchestre Giovanili. We sat there for a while to appreciate the music and soak in the beautiful Florentine evening.