Florence to us English speakers if Firenze to the Italians, and it still baffles me why we change the names of cities and countries. Would Firenze mean something diferent than Florence if used in the same context? I don't think so.
We arrived in Firenze at about noon knowing that we would have plenty of time to see all the major sights before leaving for our dinner party at 7:00pm. I've been to Firenze two times previously, so I've seen most of the sights, but it's always amazing to see them again, I just can't get over how old and ornate everything is!
The first stop was Piazza Signoria outside of the Uffizi Gallery. I've never actually been inside the Uffizi or the Accademia where the David is housed, in all the times I've been to Firenze. Is that the sign of the bad traveller? Maybe, but I think it's just that I'm not a giant museum person and there are replicas of many of the famous statues in Piazza Signoria anyway, not to mention you can see the collections in countless art history books and in photographs all over the internet. Personally, I enjoy seeing the replicas outside in natural light. My favorite is Michaelangelo's David (of course). But, I especially love that this sculpture is so well thought out that it is meant to be viewed looking up at it intead of looking forward at it. Michaelangelo designed David improportionate so when you look at it head on it looks like David has some really short legs. But, when you are looking up at him, he looks long, tall, and muscular the way he was meant to be viewed. I took a picture of him in his proper viewing state, which I will show you later.
Next we went to the Piazza della Republica while passing the Orsan. Michele church (there are so many of them in Firenze), the site of the original Roman Forum in Firenze. Then we headed up the main street, Via de Calzaiuoli, toward the Duomo. We sidetracked off to eat lunch at a small restaurant off the beaten path called Mangiafuoco Bracerie where I decided to have a very Italian lunch. I had bruccetta alla pomodori and spaghetti alla carbonara. From our table we were able to wath the futbol game on TV, how very Italian.
After lunch we headed to the Duomo. I decided not to climb the 463 stept to the top of the dome since I had already done it twice. I figured the view hadn't changed much in four year's. I did go into the church part of the Duomo and admire the frescoes on the ceiling though, not that I could see them clearly from 463 steps below.
After not climbing the Duomo we ventured through the market in San Lorenzo where street vendors sell souveniers and lots of Italian leather goods. It's your typical European street market with lots of the same stuff from stand to stand. The Italian leather goods did look enticing though...
Before we continued on our historical walk of the city, we explored the train station as I will have to navigate it when I leave from Firenze to Roma to catch my plane back to North America. I learned where to buy my tickets, which is always a good thing to know ahead of time.
Before continuing our historical walk of the city, we stopped for gelato outside of Piazza Santa Croce. I enjoyed half a cup of crema di limone that had candied lemon chunks in it and half a cup of fragole (English translation: strawberry). I sat in the piazza and admired Santa Croce which is painted in the colors as the Duomo (and other churches in Firenze as well).
Then we walked along the Arno River away from the center of the city toward one of the parts of the original wall that was around the city. After we saw the wall, we turned around and walked along the river towards the Ponte Vecchio, the famed bridge that has jewelry stores built on it. I'm not sure if they were always jewelry stores or if they were something else before (I've heard they were meat shops). When walking on the bridge, you can see it literally sparkle and shine from every angle in the light. It is bellissima.
One thing that you have to watch out for in Firenze is the motor bikes and scooters! They will run you over if you get in their way, and they zip along quite fast, though luckily they are not allowed on all the roads Motor scooters even have their own special sized parking spaces, which is good because there is not a lot of available parking in Firenze. Speaking of two wheeled vehicles, there are also a ton of bicycles in Firenze, and they are parked all over the place. I really enjoyed that this small city had such consciencious residents and commuters. I weren't it weren't so scary to ride bikes in Manhattan!
After nearly seven hours of exploring the city (for the third time) it was time to head to the dinner party at Cindy's (link). Of course my blister joined us as well.
Tomorrow we are going to Siena, a smaller Tuscan city, to go to their market which is much better than the market at San Lorezne in Firenze.