We started the day at 5:00 am so we could make it down to the Piazza San Marco for sunrise. As we walked through the dark empty corridors, we could hear seagulls and other maritime birds squawking. The sunrise wasn’t that great but it was nice to see the popular tourist attractions empty in the morning light. After breakfast we packed up and walked to the train station on the other side of the island. We saw locals unloading boats, opening shops and commuting to work through the narrow corridors. I smelled fresh pastries along much of the route.
We arrived in Florence around 12:30 pm and set out to find the Bed and Breakfast that we booked yesterday. The B & B was in such a covert location that we passed it. We went back to the address and stood right in front of the door to the B & B not realizing that we had actually reached our destination. Luckily, a mail carrier happened by and pointed to the actual buzzer on the door to the B & B. The room turned out to be so nice that we decided to book a third night right after we walked in. The room includes a terrace with a view of many of the major tourist attractions peaking out behind residential rooftops and balconies.
We left the room and made our way via bridge across the Fiume Arno (Arno River) to head up to the Piazzale Michelangel. The streets leading up to it were so steep and slanted that it is hard to believe people drive on these streets everyday. The long, wide stairway up to the Piazzale was lined with dark green trees and shrubs. When we got to the top, we could see all of Florence, as well as the larger homes and farms in the surrounding hills. We visited a few churches up on the hill and then went back down to cross the Ponte Vecchio. The Ponte Vecchio is a bridge built in 1345. It’s interesting because of the different coloured shoppes that were built into the original structure.
The bridge led us to the Piazza della Signoria. The square included several large, impressive, naked sculptures, including a reproduction of Michelangelo’s David. While Marko tried to get good sculpture angles with his camera, I tried to find a hat and scarf to buy because it had become quite chilly.
After we left the square, we were drawn to the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore because of it’s delicate exterior details. Inside, the Basilica was very large, empty, dark and cold. The Giotto’s Campanile is a tall bell tower that accompanies the Basilica. We were able to climb the winding, dark narrow stair case of the Campanile to reach several view points. This stair case is not for the claustrophobic; on several occasions during the climb, we had to squish past people coming down from the top. The top was surprisingly calm, given the winds on the ground. The view was spectacular. Marko went photo crazy when the sun finally came out after a day of overcast, flat light. He was able to get some great photos of the domed Cathedral attached to the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (aka the Duomo). According to all of the travel books, the Duomo is the “centrepiece of Florence.”
Unfortunately the weather forecast calls for rain for the next several days. Depending on weather, we will either visit some small towns in the Tuscan countryside or stay in Florence and visit the Uffizi Museum and the inside of the Duomo.