Leaving Rome was a tough choice after such a short visit but we wanted to see more of Italy. We took the high speed train in the late morning and arrived in the afternoon to a blustery day in Firenze. Our hotel, the B4 Astoria, is an eclectic and beautiful building with rooms dating back to the 15th Century. Outside our suite we had a stellar view of the Duomo. We all loved Firenze!
Dinner – Pizza and Pasta
After settling in we went to look for some food and found this little restaurant next door, Ristorante Pizzeria Lorenzo de’ Medici. The pizza, the pasta and the wine were all fabulous.
To keep our budget on track we purchased wine and beer at the local carrefour express. You may notice that the beer is getting to be as big as the wine bottle!
Arnolfo di Cambio is responsible for the creation of the third largest church in the world following St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. The church is 153 metres long, 90 metres wide, and 90 metres high from the floor to the bottom of the lantern. The church was dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore, the Virgin of the Flower, in 1412, with an allusion to the lily, the symbol of the city of Florence.
The streets of Florence
Ponte Vecchio (source)
Built very close to the Roman crossing, the Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, was the only bridge across the Arno in Florence until 1218. The current bridge was rebuilt after a flood in 1345. During the Second World War it was the only bridge across the Arno that the fleeing Germans did not destroy. Instead they blocked access by demolishing the medieval buildings on each side. On November 4, 1966, the bridge miraculously withstood the tremendous weight of water and silt when the Arno once again burst its banks.
The Uffizi Gallery (source)
Firenze art, beautiful buildings and history. One of the most famous galleries, the Uffizi, is an absolute must to visit. Construction started in 1560 by Cosimo I de’ Medici, the first Grand Duke of Tuscany, to house the administrative and judiciary offices of Firenze. (“uffizi” in Italian means “offices”). The Medici family held control over most of Italy for close to three centuries and acquired massive art collections. The last of the Medici family, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, bequeathed the collection to the Tuscan state in 1743 provided it stayed in Florence. The Uffizi Gallery as a museum was born.
We chose to buy the tickets at the Museum to save the absurd online booking fees from various third party vendors. It meant waiting in line for about forty minutes but was worth it. Our visit was about four hours long – not enough for Colleen, Hannah or I but three hours and 50 minutes too long for Ben. Emma unfortunately was sick and opted out.
Here are some of the works of art that we saw:
Our last day of exploring we went for a long walk along the Fiume Arno and detoured up the hills to the Piazzale Michelango. Florence was the capital of Italy when the plaza was built in the 1870s. It has a breath taking panorama of the city and is close to Forte di Belvedere.
San Miniato al Monte (source)
St. Minias on the Mountain is a basilica standing atop one of the highest points in the city. Built in 1018, it will be a thousand years old next month, or as Hannah points out it is 999 years and 11 months old. We loved this church, the inside is under renovation but we were able to go inside and walk around (link) and it was breath taking.
St. Minas, an Armenian prince serving in the Roman army under Emperor Decius and was denounced as a Christian after becoming a hermit. Thrown to beasts in the Amphitheatre by order of the Emperor where a panther refused to devour him. Beheaded in the presence of the Emperor, he is alleged to have picked up his head, crossed the Arno and walked up the hill of Mons Fiorentinus to his hermitage.
We finished the afternoon walk with lunch at a little restaurant. The food was awesome. Hannah and I had pasta and Colleen opted for lampredotto, a typical tuscan dish made with tripe cooked in a broth. It is not for the feint of heart! Back at the hotel everyone was back to normal and ready for the next adventure.
Next Stop – Venice!
We spent five days in Firenze largely to give time for a flu-bug to go through everyone except Hannah. We could have stayed longer but all of us wanted to see Venice.