Monday, September 25, 2017

Explore Florence in one day

Florence or Firenze is not actually included in our Rome trip itinerary. It so happens that we have one remaining free day in Rome before our flight back to Paris.

During a friendly chat with our Filipino housekeeper in our hotel, Chic&Town, he suggested that we could visit Florence and Pisa for one day.

Within hours I booked an online round trip train tickets from Roma Tiburitini to Florence at GoEuro website. In short, we set foot at Florence the following day; we left Roma Tiburtina train station at 5:53 am and arrived at Firenze Santa Maria Novella at 7:17 am. It took more than one hour for Italo fast train to reach Florence at top speed of 260 kph. Upon arrival at Florence train station, we purchased return train tickets for our later visit to Pisa.

Baptistery in front of the cathedral
Horse carriage at Piazza del Duomo

A couple of kilometers from the train station is its most famous landmark and part of UNESCO World Heritage Site, “Piazza del Duomo” which includes the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Baptistery and Campanille. From here we strolled up to Palazzo Pitti passing through Ponte Vecchio, the oldest of all bridges crossing river Arno, with a coffee break at Piazza della Signora.

The centuries old gothic Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is the fourth largest cathedral in the world. Its exterior is covered with marble panels of varying shades. Upon setting our eyesight on this unique building the wife and I were speechless for some time. At first the structure seemed like a caricature or drawing; its uniqueness was simply indescribable. 

Piazza della Signora

We walked around the cathedral searching for its entrance but we were too early, the cathedral was still closed so we searched for Ponte Vecchio. From here we reached Piazza della Signora after a couple of minutes of strolling; we had a coffee break and searched Google maps on how to reach Ponte Vecchio. This is our way of connecting to the internet in case we need to find the correct path to our destination, have a coffee and at the same time take some rest.

Love locks at Ponte Vecchio

River Arno
Jewelry shops

In no time at all we reached Ponte Vecchio. It is simply an old bridge crossing river Arno. Aside from the open space at the center the entire bridge is like a jewelry souk or market since jewelry shops lined both sidewalks of the bridge. You would notice also some love locks at Ponte Vecchio.

Palazzo Pitti

Garden at the back of Palazzo Pitti


Victor Hugo

From this bridge we followed the main road until we reached Palazzo Pitti. We bought entrance tickets and explore the four museums inside; the garden at the back requires separate tickets. Though we have visited Louvre and Orsay in Paris, we find these museums still worth visiting; there are several famous painters and artists from Tuscany region where Florence belongs. We spent more than two hours exploring the place before we decided to return back to the train station to have our lunch and wait for our train trip to Pisa.

Mercato del Porcellino

On our way back to the train station we passed again at Ponte Vecchio but this time we chose a different route, we passed at Mercato del Porcellino, a 16th century covered market building. Most of the merchandises being sold here are leather goods thus even when your eyes are close you’d know that there are plenty of leather materials around due to its distinct smell. The wife’s eyes started exploring so I reminded her that we have a train to catch, LOL.

Florence is a walkable town. With Google map as our guide we were able to visit their famous landmarks and buildings on foot. When you get lost in Florence, just go with the flow of tourists and chances are you’ll end up at the place you are searching.

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