Wednesday, 7 September 2016

A Villa in Tuscany Part 3

Dan in the driving seat
We drove to Florence! Well, Dan did the driving, Nathan navigated and I kept quiet in the back. Actually, once we'd cleared the dreaded hairpin bends in Castello - it was plain sailing. It took around an hour and a half and we arrived at the private parking garage early.

Pitti Palace
We were meeting Caterina - who was going to show us our Air BnB flat in the centre of Firenze. The chap at the garage just took our keys and told us to pay when we came back for the car in a couple of days. We found the building where the flat was and sat in a nearby outdoor café to wait for Caterina. We chose this particular café because it was a sweltering hot day and they had fans that also sprayed water over guests. We ordered some chilled wine and hoped that

Our Air BnB Apartment

Caterina had got my text asking her to meet us at the flat rather than the garage as we'd arranged.

When she didn't show by 2pm Nathan went back to the garage and found her there. She came back with him and then let us into the flat. It was in an incredible building right opposite the Pitti Palace - the former home of the Medici family. We were very impressed!

In Florence at last!
Our front door :-)
Once we settled in we set off to explore Florence. I had always wanted to come here - and it was even more beautiful than I had imagined. Gorgeous buildings everywhere you looked - and no modern buildings in sight.

We headed over to the Uffizi Gallery and bought tickets for early the next morning. We only had one full day in Florence and we wanted to make the most of it.

There was a carousel in one square and a guy playing guitar and singing English songs from Snow Patrol and Coldplay. We ate in another outdoor café in a popular square  where we saw the most hipster family - a chap with full suit with waistcoat and exquisite moustache, and his similarly attired wife and daughter. We felt rather underdressed.

The next day we got to the Uffizi in time for our slot and spent a few hours looking at the most amazing art - there was SO MUCH religious art and panels from many churches around the area. My favourite picture was the Birth of Venus by Botticelli.

Uffizi rooftop café
The pigeon appreciated the fountain

Enjoying a choco freddo :-)
There was a fantastic view through the galleries windows and from the rooftop café. I could have sat up there all day. The bells in Florence sound so wonderful. We wandered around the streets of Florence all afternoon just enjoying the sights and the atmosphere. When we saw the amazing ice cream shops we had to try some for ourselves.
Fab views from the roof terrace

Nathan really wanted to do the "Assassin's Creed Tour" as he has played the game and climbed most of the buildings in Florence. Sadly though, the people who ran it didn't do it on Sundays. We'll definitely come back again some day to do that!

The Ponte Vecchio from the Uffizi

We wanted to see Michelangelo's David - which was at The Academy just outside the centre of town. We found there was a queue - but you could pre-book and pay a bit extra to get in at a fixed time.

We were glad we went - David as a magnificent sight - I hadn't realised he was so much bigger than life-sized.
David - with his sling shot

There was more religious panels from churches - and we watched an interesting film about how the triptychs we made. There was so much gold leaf!

While we walked around the streets again I was fascinated by all the different knobs and knockers they had on their doors. So many styles and designs. I took quite a few photos - have a look in the next section of his blog :-)

For our last evening in Florence we randomly chose a café called Il Porcospino - the hedgehog. We just sat down for cooling drinks first - then decided we'd stay for food. The waiters were funny and friendly. As we sat there with our first drink and they realised we were English (although Dan protested that he was Scottish - which is what they called him for the rest of the night!) - they asked us if we'd like some chips. We thought that they probably meant crisps so we said yes - but then they came out with a big plate of chips!

We felt we had to eat them. :-)

"Scottish" with Franco and Toni
When it came to our evening meal though we asked what they would recommend - and they suggested seafood pasta, the Osso Bucco and a cheese and pear pasta - so we each tried one of those. They were all delicious! The waiters were chatting all evening about football and other things. They knew a lot about English teams and even knew Stoke's last match score.
The funniest part of the night was when N and I got our mains and were offered some parmesan to put on top - but Dan wasn't. "What do I get?" he asked - "You're Scottish - you get a Mars bar!" I replied. As he looked down to see the moist towel he'd been given which looked exactly like a Mar bar wrapper. He nearly spat out is drink laughing :-)
Mars bar for Scottish :-)

Three of us at Porcospino

 It was a very fun night and we walked back to the flat and sat outside the Pitti Palace - where lots of people just gather and sit talking or looking at the stars. It was a really warm night and we just watched the people and admired the art sculptures.

Dan and me outside the Pitti Palace at midnight :-)

 So, the next day we had to pack up once more, pick up the car and find our way out of Florence through the narrow streets. Soon we were back on the motorway and en route for Pisa. We dropped off the car at the airport - where the car rental women didn't even glance at the scratches on the car! She just saw that we were on Super-Relaxed policy - and said she'd park the car for us.

We had one more night in Pisa - before getting up at 4am to get our flight back to Edinburgh.

It was a great holiday - full of contrasts - but with great company (and wine!) Thanks to Dan for suggesting it and inviting us along!
I really want to go back to Florence again!

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