The wonderful thing about being in Tuscany is that the cities are all so relatively close to each other. Sienna is in one direction and Florence another. And Bologna too (but that's for a different blog post!).
Our original plan was to train from Figline Valdarno to Florence, and on the website, it looked like there was a train every 20 minutes or so....
...but then we got to the station and found out that we would have to wait an hour for the next train which would take double the amount of time for some reason. WHAT?!
So into the car it was!
It actually ended up working out extremely well, as Florence was only a 30 minute or so drive away, although it took a little time to actually get into the city since there was a myriad of one way streets and weird turns and streets that didn't go where you wanted them to. Driving around the towns in European country is lovely, but driving in the cities? Urgh.
We eventually found a carpark, which I think may have actually been the carpark for the train station and had surprisingly reasonable rates. 15 euro for a day? When you're travelling with 4 people, it calculates up pretty reasonably. So there you go, driving into Florence for the day is worth doing!
They have macarons in the McDonalds by the train station!
Being parked right by the train station is fantastic logistically. You're literally a 5 - 10 minute walk away from one of the main attractions, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore....or the Duomo.
With massive queues that snaked across the square the Duomo stood on, we didn't bother going in and just admired the white marbled mammoth of beauty from the outside instead. Much like the Duomo di Siena, there were trims of pink and green...although it was much, much bigger and slightly more worn down, but I suppose it's hard to keep something that big clean all the time.
Just beautiful though, I could spend all day just marvelling over the details and the structure and just the fact it was completed so many hundred of years ago, without any modern day technology. It is a wonder isn't it?
My dad joined the throngs of touristy looking Asians by taking pictures with his Samsung Galaxy Tab....I couldn't stop cracking up. Although to be fair, it did take some gorgeous pictures.
I can't remember where we stopped in for lunch randomly (because we were starving), but I think the name was something along the lines of David and Goliath or the little David cafe....but anyway. A perfectly portioned porcini risotto for my brother, who inhaled the dish down. Even in a little cafe tucked away on a street in Florence, where I thought the food might be a little more touristy, the risotto was still cooked perfectly with nice simple flavours.
Dad ordered some lasagne. Can't remember what it was like...
We had to have it somewhere! Prosciutto and melon, nice and refreshing on a fairy balmy day.
And for me? I can hardly go by an insalata caprese. Although this rendition was a bit lacking on the basil for me. And lacking on presentation, but the mozzarella was lovely!
I thought the little display in the window was so cute!
After lunch we wandered further into Florence to look at...ahem. Statues. Above is Neptune's lovely buttocks for your enjoyment.
I loved wandering around the statues here near the Galleria dell'Accademia, where the famous statue of David is housed, they were mostly of Gods or as the descriptions said, scenes of rape. The Europeans are a charming sort aren't they? So detailed and in still such amazing condition, I always especially like looking at the cloth folds that look so natural and even soft, although they are made of a much harder material.
Again, queues dominated the entryway into the Galleria dell'Accadmia, so we did not actually get a chance to see 'the' statue of David.
We walked all the way to Ponte Vecchio ("Old Bridge"...how original), which used to be full of butcher shops, but under the order of the Lord Mayor (I'm not sure when), he changed it into a street of gold and jewellery merchants, which certainly tempt as you stroll past them, with windows full of glittery shiny things...ooooooohh.
Near the Ponte Vecchio you can find a few chain railings which are filled to the brim with padlocks, which often have a couples name written on them. The tradition is by locking the padlock and throwing the key into the river, lovers can be eternally bonded.
We finished our afternoon by walking in and out of one of the cutest little leather shops on the other side of the Ponte Vecchio and every time we went in we bought more stuff. The leather work in Florence is just so gorgeous, everything in that little shop was made in Florence with leather from Florence. I fell in love with a bright, fluro green and pink wallet which I so nearly bought if I hadn't already bought a new wallet from the Prada outlet...but the workman ship...just beautiful!
And to finish up, expensive coffees (because we sat down and didn't stand), and a very refreshing iced tea.
Wait until my next Europe post, where I tell you about our homemade dinner by the Italian farmer who owns and runs the accommodation we stayed at...