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Magnificent Florence

After reading Dan Brown's Inferno I wanted to go to Florence! That was two years ago and I had booked a trip for March 2020 but it was canceled due to the pandemic. This year I booked another trip for March, but that one got canceled too because I got covid. One month later I finally managed to visit Florence, but the plan doesn't always works out the way one expects.

Initially the trip was for 3 nights but the airline with which I got the flight tickets changed the timetable and the first direct flight to return was after another 2 days, therefore I ended up spending 5 nights. Which turned out to be better!

The journey to reach Florence was hellish! Apparently the airport is small, between cities, with only one runway, fairly short and not very wide. Additionally to that, the place is surrounded by high mountains, which is why it can be approached only in one direction. Not only does the terrain brings this challenge with it, but it also effectuates in a very unusual microclimate. Due to this, the airport can be approached with a tailwind component. After leaving with a delay of ~3h from Amsterdam, that evening, the wind made it difficult to land on FLR, the runaway in Pisa was busy, therefore we landed in Bologna. The whole experience was scary. What helped me manage the discomfort was listening to my neighbour talking. This way I didn't notice the other people around getting sick. Anyway, from Bologna airport we managed to board one of the transfer buses which took us to the original destination airport.

From the airport we took a taxi straight to the accommodation and only after that we were able to start enjoying what Florence had to offer.

Although it was late, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at a restaurant in the area.

First dinner @Il Nutino
The food was good, we were also starving! For starters we shared some bruschetta. The main was mezzelune stuffed with some soft cheese bathed in a butter sauce. And for desert the traditional tiramisu. 

The next day we started with a lunch with one of Ioana's friend who leaves near Florence. The food was amazing.  
Some sort of potato loaf with spinach and eggs in a pastry basket with caciocavallo cheese @5ecinque
After lunch we started exploring the city.
Piazza Santa Trinita

Boboli Gardens
Directly behind Pitti Palace are the marvellous Boboli Gardens. The Medici family established the layout of the gardens, creating the Italian garden style that would become a model for many European courts. The vast green expanse with a regular layout is a real outdoor museum, populated by ancient and Renaissance statues. 
We bought tickets directly from the entrance and there was no queue. By the queues I saw in the next days at different attractions around the city I think it's better to reserve the tickets online.
View of Palazzina della Meridiana from Boboli garden

Fountain of Neptune (Boboli Gardens)

Pitti Palace viewed from top

Pitti Palace courtyard

The Moses Grotto (Boboli Gardens)

Ponte Vecchio - the Old Bridge, an everlasting symbol of Florence
Over the Ponte Vecchio passes the Vasari Corridor which was designed by Giorgio Vasari for Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici, to connect Palazzo Vecchio with the Pitti Palace. At the moment the corridor is closed to the visitors. 
Speaking of the Palazzo Vecchio, below is the fountain with a copy of Plutto with dolphin by Andrea del Verrocchio. The original statue is in the palazzo.
Palazzo Vecchio courtyard with the fountain designed by Vasari
I returned in the next days to visit the palazzo. Unfortunately for Pitti palace I didn't have time and patience to queue to visit it.
After strolling down the streets, it was time for a gelato break
Now seriously, it was time for dinner.
Dinner @Matto Matto
The dinner was a feast! We shared again some bruschetta for starters. For the main, I got gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce and walnuts and Ioana had some truffle risotto. And for desert I got a cheesecake and Ioana, tiramisu. The wine was also exquisite! It was a Brunello di Montalcino. I forgot to mention, the wine from first night was Chianti. I returned here for my last evening in Florence!
If you think the night was over here, you're wrong my friend! Ioana's friend made us reservations to a speakeasy. It was the first time going to such a place. If you are in Florence you definitely have to try it. It's called Vanilla Club. The rules are simple and you just have to play the game in order to get in. We had to wait ~20 minutes to get in but it was worth it. The ambiance inside depicts 20'-30's. The cocktails were amazing too!

The next day we started over: eat, walk and repeat. The best things in life are worth waiting for, like it was with us waiting ~20 minutes to get a table at a popular brunch spot. Waiting can be difficult when you're hangry!
Brunch @Le Vespe Cafè
After we ate we went for a carousel ride in Piazza della Repubblica.
The inner child enjoyed this short ride
After the carousel ride we started walking towards Piazzale Michelangelo. From this spot we had a panoramic view over the city. Sometimes, for the best things in life some effort is required. For this panoramic view we had to climb some stairs. 

Panoramic view over the city from Piazzale Michelangelo

It was definitely worth it. Do you believe in coincidences? Until this point we met randomly with two persons who were at the same speakeasy as us. Funny, no? 
From the piazza we went towards the Giardino delle Rose, terraced rose gardens with beautiful city views. The weather was splendid and the garden was busy with people enjoying it!

Giardino delle Rose

From the garden we headed back to the accommodation. Ioana returned to Amsterdam that evening and I had to check in to another accommodation I booked for the rest of the stay in Florence. I almost missed the checkin. After I finally managed to checkin, I got a good recommendation for dinner. 
Parmigiana and tartufo @Grazie Assai
After dinner, I returned to my room and decided to have a tea before going to bed. Oh well, it didn't occur to me to get the key with me and I locked myself out. And that's how "enter" the room game began. I knocked at my neighbours door, a lovely Spanish couple, and they called the lady from reception (I left my phone in the room) who was sending us instructions how to find the spare key. Eventually we found the spare key and I was able to enter the room again!
For the next day I went to visit Palazzo Vecchio and booked a yoga class on a rooftop terrace with amazing views over the city.
Piazza dei Ciompi

Take away snack from Ditta Artiginale; the next day I returned to another location of them for breakfast

Blooming wisteria is a sign that spring is finally here
At the entrance of Palazzo Vecchio, the statues of David, Hercules and Perseus stand guard.
Hercules and Cacus

Copy of David statue of Michelangelo; the original is in the Galleria dell'Accademia

The bronze statue in the background is of Perseus with the Head of Medusa
Coincidence that the rest of the statues are from stone?!

Neptune's Fountain

The Hall of the Five Hundred (Palazzo Vecchio)
If you read Inferno by Dan Brown or viewed the movie with the same name, this room will be familiar with you. When I stepped inside I felt I was inside the universe of Dan Brown. 

Putto with dolphin - this is the original sculpture that was in the courtyard fountain (Palazzo Vecchio)

The Hall of the Five Hundred viewed from second floor

The famous Dante Alighieri death mask 
Now you understand me why I had to visit Florence?

I'm so adorable! Take me home!

Why so serious?

I got myself a souvenir from Palazzo Vecchio gift shop

Loggia Roof Bar is a nice place to grab some drinks and enjoy the view

I didn't see too much street art and that might because the fines for writing on walls are high

Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze in the background

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
As I mentioned earlier I took also a sunset yoga class on a rooftop terrace. The two pictures above were taken from that place. The experience itself wasn't extraordinary but it was worth it for the 360 views over the city.
A new day started with a breakfast! 
Breakfast @Ditta Artigianale & Hario Cafe Sant' Ambrogio
After a good coffee and breakfast I headed to Uffizi Gallery. Thank God I booked a ticket online. Although I had to pay extra for the reservation it was worth it otherwise I would have stayed in two gigantic queues, one to buy the ticket and the second one to enter the museum for ticket holders. 

Whatcha doin'?
There are corridors full with statues from ancient times to the present days.

The Tribune realised by Bernardo Bountalenti to keep jewels and embellishments of the Grand Duke, Francesco I de' Medici 

The other bank of Arno river viewed from Uffizi Gallery

Ponte Vecchio and the Vasari Corridor viewed from Uffizi Gallery

Please watch the ceiling!

Venus of Urbino by Titian

Medusa, a Flemish painting formerly attributed to Leonardo da Vinci 

Mars Gradivus
You can easily spend a couple of hours in Uffizi Gallery admiring the vast collection of primitive and renaissance paintings and masterpieces.
Fleur de Lis, symbol of the city

A panini please! I'm hungry

Giardino delle Rose
I returned to Giardino delle Rose to enjoy my panini and rest my feet. 
After a well deserved break in the garden, I headed towards the Piazzale Michelangelo and climbed up Viale Galileo and then down on Viale Machiaveli to Porta Romana. 
Hilltop views south of the city centre
After this walking it was time for a gelato! This was one of the best ones I had in Florence. I've got strawberry with ginger and zabaione (an Italian dessert made with egg yolks, sugar and sweet wine)  flavour. Delicious! 
Gelato @Sbrino - Gelatificio Contadino
Before dinner, I still had plenty of time to stroll down the streets of the city.

I love playing with the water reflection of the buildings in photos

Ponte alla Carraia
I discovered too late Mercato Centrale. At the first floor there is a food court with a lot of delicious meals.

Mercato Centrale
One last dinner in Florence, at Mato Mato restaurant! I think that was the best tiramisu I ever had.

That was my florentine experience! The city is a living history and art and it's just one of the Tuscany gems.
Arrivederci amici! 


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