For a writer, a place takes on a whole new meaning as we subconsciously look for locations in which parts of our stories will play out. Of course, at the time, we have no idea what those parts of stories will be, but notes, mentally and physically, are taken for future reference.
And, unlike the usual tourist, we always see it differently. I know I do.
Apologies now if I have misspelled any street, piazza or any other names.
The first time we arrived in Florence was by train, from Innsbruck in Austria. We had been booked into the Hotel Brunelleschi, based on the fact it was built over part of a 12th-century monastery, it was conveniently located, and was a luxury hotel.
We took a taxi, not knowing how far it was, and found it tucked away in a street, via Sant’elisabetta, not far from Florence’s cathedral, the Duomo. The taxi barely fitted through the streets. First impressions, it was very old, second impression, the room we were given was amazing, with a view over the main street, and wafting up from a food shop below, the aroma of newly baked waffles. We had to have one.
Words cannot describe how amazing it was to wake up that first morning and look out at the bright sunshine and blue sky. We were in for a hot day, but that wasn’t going to deter the tourist in us. Of course, after we had a great breakfast. I particularly liked the crispy bacon.
The first place on the list to visit was the Piazza del Duomo, where the cathedral is located, and the Porta del Paradiso. We went into the church, and also did a side trip down into the crypt. We did not climb to the top of Brunelleschi’s cupola. We tried the pizza, and hearing that the gelato was very expensive in the main part of the city, ventured further afield and found a gelato vendor that was inexpensive. As the day was very hot it was a welcome relief.
The Ponte Vecchio, the bridge that crosses the Arno. We walked to the bridge, taking in the views up and down the river before crossing to the other side, then back towards the Piazza Santa Croce. On our most recent visit there was a football competition, Calcio Fiorentino, in progress that had taken over the whole Piazza, and during the day there was a parade where all the teams and others dressed in the historic clothing dating back to the 15th century.
The Galleria dell’Accademia was also high on the list of places to visit, and we left the hotel early as we had heard the queues are long to get in. They were right. We were at the end of a very, very long queue stretching back to Via delgi Alfani. We were in the queue for about an hour and a half and it didn’t seem to move very quickly.
Then some people passing by said that we could go to the Museo Di San Marco, and purchase tickets to enter the gallery at a particular time. We had also read or heard something similar, and, taking a risk we left the queue and went in search. We found it at the Piazza San Marco, purchased tickets for 13:30 and had time to have lunch before turning up at the entrance for our timeslot, and sure enough, with others who had also purchased tickets, we went in.
Just out of curiosity I went back to the queue to see when the people in front of us were, and they still had an hour before gaining admission.
We saw everything that was recommended, including the famous statue of David, though I had a lot of trouble taking a photo when people kept walking in front.
The Piazza Della Signoria has a large number of statues, including another of David, the Marzocco, the symbol of Florence, Il Perseo, the fountain of Neptune, Poseidon, Perseus with the head of Medusa, and a hall of statues adjacent to the Palazzo Vecchio.
Florence is old, the roads are cobbled and narrow, and there are many trails one can follow and discover something new at the end of every twist and turn.
I have to go back, other than the fact I need a new wallet and belt made from Italian leather. My wife loves the purses and handbags, also leather, though the scarves have only recently been added to her list of most wanted items. I want to simply soak up the atmosphere, relax, eat the pasta and drink the endless supply of Moretti’s.