After our week in Rome, we started the next leg of our more shorter stays in Italy. We began by travelling north, catching the train for an hour and a half before arriving in the busy central station of Florence.
Day 7 – Visiting Pisa
Since we arrived in the afternoon, we decided to do a side trip out to see the well known Leaning Tower of Pisa. After dropping off our bags we jumped back on the train heading to Pisa Centrale station before choosing to take the 25 minute walk to the monument. The walk itself was relatively flat, however the sun was well and truly out and blaring down on us, making it seem a lot longer than it actually was.
The Leaning Tower itself is quite impressive with numerous arches on each level right to the top while the lowest level is decorated with diamond inlays. The area was also completely crowded with tourists, many taking the well known photo pose with the tower in the background. It’s kind of amusing seeing them all lined up one after another down the surrounding pathways.
We wandered around the tower and nearby buildings before deciding to head back to the station. This wasn’t without a quick stop for some gelato on the way though ;).
Day 8 – The Statue of David, Ponte Vecchio and Boboli Gardens
This would be our first day properly exploring Florence which started off by visiting the Accademia Gallery. This is where Michelangelo’s statue of David is housed, but it also has a few collections of religious and renaissance artworks. It’s a surprisingly small gallery though it didn’t feel too crowded inside, instead it was pleasantly quiet, cosy and calm. The statue of David is pretty amazing to see in person and the artists skill in capturing details like the veins and tendons in the hands is remarkable. Equally interesting was the unfinished marble statues that live in the accompanying hallway that hint at the sculpture inside, parts peeking through the rough exterior.
After exploring all of the gallery’s levels, we started the trek towards the Boboli Gardens which in turn would take us across the Ponte Vecchio. This medieval bridge is filled with shops selling precious golden jewellery, though there are little alcoves tucked in between, many covered in the special love-declaring padlocks.
We continued down the street until finally reaching the Pitti Palace which connects with the gardens. We decided to head in straight after having lunch without realising we were out of water. BIG mistake on our part. While exploring inside the various palace museums throughout was fine, the gardens themselves are on fairly hilly terrain. In the hot sun this was a recipe for dire thirst shortly after beginning our trek and the sparse water fountains around the area weren’t helpful as most of them didn’t work. We left the gardens incredibly tired and desperate for a drink. We did get some nice views of the surrounding city though and saw an amusing sculpture of a man riding a turtle.
Day 9 – The Florence Duomo, markets and other sight seeing
For our final day we headed to the city’s most famous landmark – The Florence Duomo. Situated in the centre of the city, its striking facade is hard to miss. Once inside the cathedral, we were greeted by a PA loudly stating ‘SHHHHHHHHH! SILENCE’ every ten minutes or so. The irony of it :P. We slowly made our way around the main outside foyer until finding ourselves standing under the intricately painted interior fresco of the main dome with its beautiful range of colour and a clever perspective warp. We thought about also climbing the dome itself later in the day but we were so tired that we decided to give it a miss.
After the Duomo, we checked out the San Lorenzo markets located in the nearby streets. If you were ever in need of a leather belt or bag, this is the place to hit up with many stalls offering (albeit very similar) leather goods. There was also nearby food marketplace (though I can’t seem to find the name for it) that offered a peek into the local produce of the area with many pastas, meats and fermented goods on sale. An upstairs area also provided an assortment of different restaurants and some surprise free wifi, allowing us to rest.
We found ourselves with a free afternoon so we just explored the local streets and shops, coming across various landmarks like the Palazzo Vecchio. Our next day would find us on the move again, travelling to our next destination Milan.