Now, don’t get me wrong, Florence is absolutely gorgeous. But I didn’t fall in love with the city.
I think I’ve become a smaller town girl.
Perhaps my expectations were too high. So many people told me how amazing it was. Maybe it’s like seeing too many previews of a movie and the real thing not living up to the hype.
DD rousted me dozily out of bed at sunrise so we could catch an early train and make the most of the city. I may have cursed him slightly …
We grabbed a couple of cappuccinos at the station while we waited, which perked me up.
When we arrived in Florence we made our way to the city’s centrepiece: the Duomo. Queues were short so we climbed straight up the 414 steps of Giotto’s tower. My calves!
The view of the city and the Duomo was stunning.
A fleet of ambulances wait at the bottom of the tower – we wondered whether they’re to ferry all the fat, middle-aged tourists who have heart attacks while climbing the tower to hospital.
Travel writer Rick Steves notes about the Duomo: “… Built in the Middle Ages by architects who left it unfinished.
“Think of the confidence of the age. The Duomo was built with a big hole in its roof, just waiting for a grand dome to cover it. They could envision it – but the technology needed to create such a dome had yet to be invented. No problemo. The Florentines knew that someone would soon be able to handle the challenge.”
I LOVE that.
We were pretty knackered when we got back down to the ground so we made our way to the picturesque Piazza della Signoria, home to the Palazzzo Vecchio, the palatial town hall of the Medicis, for another round of cappuccinos and a sarnie.
Then it was on to the Ponte Vecchio. The Ponte Vecchio is a bridge built in Roman times that was originally lined with butcher shops because they could just throw all their gory off cuts off into the river. Blerk.
These days the Ponte Vecchio is lined with boutiques and crammed with tourists.
Actually most of Florence is lined with boutiques and crammed with tourists. It’s totally heaving with them.
We trailed around exploring the other side of the river and landed at the market in Piazza di Santo Spirito. The square is filled with outdoor restaurants too, all lively and brightly coloured.
But we powered on for another 20 minutes in search of an osteria Rick had recommended … Which was closed.
In the Housegoeshome spirit of telling it like it is … I went a bit postal soon afterwards, when DD took me into a humble cafe by the river filled with staring locals.
I don’t cope very well with being tired, hungry, thirsty and being stared at, so I had a teeny tantrum.
I immediately felt VERY embarrassed about my teeny tantrum – which DD hadn’t appreciated at all, and it was a rather miserable trek back to Piazza di Santo Spirito for lunch.
I soothed my frazzled nerves with a glass of white and a plate of seafood spaghetti and we both got back on an even keel, while realising we were still comprehensively buggered.
So we made our way slowly back to the Duomo, decided an hour was too long to wait in the queue to see the cupola and went for the Baptistery instead, where DD almost got kicked out for lying on the kneeling part of a pew to take photos of the magnificent ceiling.
Then we rewarded ourselves with a cool bevvy on the rooftop terrace of the La Rinacentre department store, which has the most exquisite views of the Duomo.
There was a brief toss up about travelling into the hills to hear some Gregorian chanting at a cathedral but we both decided we were too tired and headed for the station instead.
Make that sprinted … We got a tiny bit lost and made it onto our carriage with seconds to spare. The alternative would have been an hour-long wait for the next train.
And that was Florence. Gorgeous – as you will see from my pics – but, as my youngest daughter says after virtually every single dinner I serve her “not my favourite.”
Do you have a favourite city? Or are you more of a country person?