Day 3: I had caught a slight cold/fever so we slept in before having a very adventurous afternoon. We grabbed pizza (rosemary potato) off the street and supplies at the covered market (bread, prosciutto, brie, swiss cheese, and fruit) and picnicked in a park by a gorgeous synagogue. We told the shop staff at the market that we wanted just a small slice of cheese… little did we know the wheel was huge and thus we ended up a massive chunk. After lunch we hiked up to Piazzale Michalangelo to take in the absolutely amazing views. If Florence hadn’t already stolen my heart, she definitely would have once we reached the overlook! It was incredible.
After many minutes spent marveling and taking pictures – we headed to the road where we were lucky to stumble upon an empty, walled trail that lead us back down to the river and the city. We wandered the medieval streets before ending up at the Palazzo Pitti. The palace was purchased by the Medici family and became the residence of the grand-dukes of Tuscany and later of the King of Italy. It is now a treasure-house of paintings and luxurious possessions. Many of the art pieces feature the technique known as trompe l’oeil (optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions) and were seriously astounding. After touring the palace and jaw-dropping royal apartments we finished the day with tasty gnocchi at a quaint little restaurant with a very sweet waiter.
| covered market and our giant cheesy surprise |
| wandering around town |
| magnificent panoramic view from the Piazzale Michalangelo – a famous square at the top of a large hill |
| views from and around the Piazzale Michalangelo |
| more beautiful scenes from the overlook |
| the hidden walled walkway we stumbled upon |
| strolling the ancient streets |
| the grand Palazzo Pitti, view from the palace windows, room after room after room of opulence, one of the trompe l’oeil pieces |
| inside the palace’s royal apartments |
| more elegance from inside the palace |
| walking to dinner – Ponte Vecchio in the distance |
| can’t go wrong with gnocchi |
Day 4: We visited the Medici chapel, church of San Lorenzo, and our favorite gelato shop (the Gelateria de’ Medici – conveniently located just down the street from our airbnb rental). I tried out their kiwi and pineapple while Mom went more decadent with coffee and chocolate. We made our way toward the Arno River, across, the Ponte Vecchio, and back to the Palazzo Pitti. This time we explored The Boboli Gardens just behind the palace. The gardens were vast, with many trails and fountains, and, of course, gorgeous views of Florence.
A bit rushed for time, we grabbed food to go, collected our luggage, and ate in the train station like typical tourists before hopping an overnight train to Paris. Much to our surprise, it turned out I’d somehow booked us a sleeper car! It was nice to actually catch some z’s but also a little odd since you are a 1 of 6 strangers in a tiny train car with 3 squeaky bunks stacked on each side. Besides Mom and me there was a grumpy man who smelled like sour milk, an elderly lady who was sweet but chatty, her husband who snored, and a young silent barefoot guy who just stared. So that was an experience to say the least…
| skeleton of Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici, ceiling in the Medici Chapel, Tomb of Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici with Dusk and Dawn, a bony crypt relic |
| Ponte Vecchio |
| at the Boboli Gardens |
| the many walkways through the gardens |
| more of the Boboli Gardens |
| at the end of the garden is the Grotto of Buontalenti built in 1583-93, here you can also see a chubby Bacchus riding a sea turtle |
| dusk in Firenze |
| shimmery sunset at the Piazza della Signoria |
| good night basilica, good night bell tower |
| farewell Florence, we’ve got a sleeper train to catch |
Up next… Paris!