The weather in Italy varies from North to South. Last October, it was sunnier in Venice, absolutely colder in coastal towns of La Spezia, sunnier in Rome and in Florence, it was drizzling, raining and an overcast weather most of the days. Although I did not packed a lot of blouses but I never expected the weather during October to be drizzling and windy most of the time. Due to the weather, we cancelled some bookings including a dinner in a rooftop hotel overlooking the Duomo in Florence.
Our journey to Florence started by taking the train from La Spezia Centrale to Pisa Centrale where we visited the Pisa leaning Tower for a day trip and headed to Florence taking train from Pisa Centrale to Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station or written as Firenze S.M Novella. Costs of tickets; La Spezia to Pisa Centrale for 8€ travel will be 1hr., and Pisa Centrale to Firenze SMN for 12€ travel time 1hr. and 20mins. It is cheaper if you will buy it online and not from the train station counters. We bought tickets from Trenitalia counter.
Florence train station is huge, at first we went to the wrong side Via Luigi Almanni looking for a taxi and dragging our bags, but the taxis are on the opposite side- Piazza Della Stazione.
Travelling in Europe is expensive especially if you are not a backpacker type who cannot stay on hostels and guesthouses. We were on a tight budge so we selected to stay in a 2 or 3 stars Hotel and sometimes in bed & breakfast. We stayed at Hotel II Poeta Dante. The Hotel has been welcoming guest since 18th Century and on the lobby you can see famous pictures of Italian actors, actresses, theater performers and singers who stayed in the hotel. The price is affordable and located just walking distance from the city centre. To check more about the hotel click here.
Florence has been ranked as one of the romantic and beautiful cities in the world. It was once the centre of trade during the Renaissance times and considered to be the wealthiest city during 15-19th century. The wide streets and big houses, buildings and architectures shows how wealthy this city, once a capital of newly established Kingdom of Italy on the 18th century.
There are many things to see in Florence, but due to misty, drizzling weather for three consecutive days, we had limited time to see around. The days were gloomy and it gets easily dark in the afternoon/evening. Here are the things we did and places visited.
At first I thought that Ponte Vecchio was row of houses but it turned out to be a an old bridge with many jewelry shops on it. It was wide bridge to accommodate such shops on it. From Ponte Vecchio you can see other bridges Ponte Santa Trinita, Ponte Alla Carraia & Ponte Amerigo Vespucci over the Arno river. Around and on the sidewalk, you can buy watercolor paintings from 30€ to 70€ the smallest-the side of a playing cards. I would suggest try to bargain and buy on not so much crowded streets anywhere in Florence, its cheaper.
As you can see from the image, visiting Palazzo Vecchio will take most of your time on the line queue. Mostly from tour companies and school field trips.Ceilings were painted and walls or columns with intricate designs. It was crowded, I guess it is everyday crowded. I was not able to get good pictures inside. You can check the main website here.
Our next stop, which is walking distance from Palazzo Vecchio is the famous Florence Cathedral or Dome of Florence Cathedral.
It is known as II Duomo di Firenze which in English means Saint Mary of the Flowers and are part of UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most important landmark in Italy and one of the biggest churches in the world.
The design of the facade colors looks like a painting but its actually pink,white and green marbles. The bell tower is called Giotto’s Bell tower since he was the architect who started the project and the Dome is made of more than 4million bricks. The color of the bricks makes it absolutely striking. There are many shops around the Duomo, it looks like a plaza where you can find a horse carriage for a tour of 80€ for 45mins. There are entertainers, musicians, vendors, cafes and restaurants around.
Since I really like paintings, no matter how big and small it is, I approached a vendor displaying his beautiful paintings. He and his friend said they were Art students and they’re selling their paintings. It looks like an oil canvass. When we asked about the price, they said 20€. We were surprised. How could it be 20€? and its huge. When we look closer to the painting, it’s been printed and not painted. Printed on a rough thick paper that appears to be like a cloth type. So you will think it’s really a canvass. After saying that it’s not real, they left their station. Did not see them. We’ll, they are trying to fool people around.
There are many Piazzas not only in Florence but in Italy. Some of the Piazza we have been in Florence are Piazza Della Signoria which is where the Palazzo Vecchio is and the statue of David, Piazza Della Republica where the carousel is located and leather goods are being sold from shoes,bags to belt , Piazza Del Duomo where the Cathedral is, and for the best view- Piazzale Michelangelo where you can get the best view of Florence.
Since steeping in Italy, all I wanted was to eat seafood pasta. I can’t get enough of Spaghetti Allo Scoglio (Seafood Pasta) and Risotto alla Pescatora which is a Rice with clams, mussels,prawns and squid. Prices of the food varies. The seafood pasta is from 11€ to 17€, prices varies as per the location of the restaurant.
I would love to express my opinion of the Italian pasta- its the best in the world :-).
Travelling to Italy, we visited Venice, Rome and the Cinque Terre, but of all I like Florence. Why I like it? When you want to come out of a puzzle-maze calles or narrow streets of Venice trying to find your way out and still you are lost, when you wanted to be away from the crowded place of Piazza San Marco to a wider streets, then better be in Florence.That’s what I felt being in Florence. The streets are wider, buildings are bigger, and prices of foods are better.
Soon: I will be posting my Venice, Rome and Cinque Terre travels.
(Sorry for the time on the pictures-we were not able to set it on European time zone)