For our final foray in tourism, for the time being, we have visited Florence. Not somewhere I have ever thought of visiting, however Jess wanted to visit as she had heard from friends that it was a beautiful place to visit. I have to admit it was a very picturesque place, even with the crowds that were flocking all over.
We were lucky enough to find a parking spot in a courtyard that was just above Michelangelo square, which is a short walk from all the attractions in the town, as well as giving the best panoramic view of the city. As well as this we were not bothered for two nights and days in this parking spot, which was a nice change of pace.
On our first day we followed our nose and worked our way into town via a set of rose gardens that were well kept and ornate. The town walls soon rose in front of us and we walked through a large gated entrance, following the busier roads until we were at the river that overlooked the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, the only bridge left standing after world war 2. On the other side we walked through the courtyard of the Ufizi Museum, only realising this later when we read about the city. This was lovely and the sides were lined with columns and statues, as well as a host of salesmen who were selling the same rubbish that you can buy at everyone of the main attractions across Italy.
At the end of the courtyard you reach the famous statue of David, or at least the replica, which I can now say I’ve seen. Although all around this square there are statues, it’s like an outdoor museum, some of the pieces, especially the striking Perseus who is holding the decapitated head of medusa, are in my opinion worth the visit more than the more famous David. Again, I have gone to visit a Michelangelo piece and been more impressed with those around it. In the centre of the square there was some modern art, which looked like a huge piles of turd painted silver, it’s embarrassing to try and palm this off as art, when next to such amazing artwork and sculptures, although art is subjective so this may only be my opinion?
We then walked toward the cathedral in the centre of town, the Duomo, this piece of architecture was ultimately different to anything else we have seen, with the pastel coloured green, red and white facade that surrounded the structure. It was a nice looking building, although after looking at it for a while, I realised I had started to get a little bored with the mundane walking around, looking at things, taking pictures, and then nothing much else, I can feel my bodies need for activity screaming out at me… in the end we walked down the high streets that were lined with every brand name you could imagine, and filled with idiots who think that paying and wearing these brands actually means something. We spent the rest of the day on wifi as jess was working, and later walked for an age to find a supermarket that was not outrageously overpriced.
The following day we went to the Boboli gardens, which for ten euros entrance was a bit steep for a garden. At first I felt a little aggrieved, as the initial part of the gardens were not well kept, with untidy and uneven bushes, uncut grass, I felt for ten euros, this might be kept pretty trim and in good condition?? As we explored the gardens more, I came to appreciate it more, the scale was larger than I initially thought, plus we saw some turtles, which is pretty cool, we thought about taking one as a pet as we have turtle curtains, so it made sense, but in the end decided against it!
As with davids square there was loads of modern art pieces dotted around, that in all honesty ruined some of the scenic shots, basically there were shiny wobbly looking structures that looked like mistakes and were passed off as modern art? I’m not sure who paid, commissioned or allowed this to be on display, but I think they need to have a pretty stern word with themselves, it was crap end of point and discussion.
That afternoon I was lucky enough to meet up with an old friend, Jess, who years before I had met at the bull run in Pamplona, and stayed friends with after. She moved back home to New Zealand and I have not seen her for seven or so years, so it was great to both be in the same town on the same night. I met her friend Mindy and as a group we all hit it off over a couple of drinks sharing stories throughout the night of what we had done with the years in between, plans for the future and remembering our run with the bulls! As the night came to a close we said goodbye and the next morning we left Florence!
Our big plan was to go directly to the Dolomites, with a pit stop in between to buy some snow chains, although this last point is proving to be difficult to achieve for a reasonable price. So over the coming days we are on the hunt for cheap snow chains and hopefully heading to the hills, if we fail in finding some, then we might need to switch fire and aim to go somewhere else, although we shall see what happens, I suppose this is the joy of having a trip with no or little plans, you have to adapt to your circumstances and make the choices on the move, so by the next post following this you will know where we are and where we have gone!