Saturday, 21 August 2010

Florence and Francesca, our personal Firenze Guide.

Nicole's penfriend, Francesca, joined us in Florence for the day. She lives 90 minutes away by train, and had previously worked as a tour guide in the city (our very own tour guide for the day!!). It was fantastic to see Francesca again, she had visited us in Sydney in 1998, pre children.  It was lovely to be able to introduce her to our boys. 

We started with Ponte Vecchio, the famous bridge that apparently Hitler loved so much that he refused to bomb it. All of the jewellery shops provided some window shopping on our way to Pallazo Pitti.  It is called the Golden Bridge, as only jewelery stores are allowed to be on the bridge.  It used to be markets with produce and fish.  Above the stores are the Medici Royal Family Homes, and the smell of the markets was too much for them, so they declared the shops to only be leased by jewelery stores, as they don't smell like fish!
Recrossing the bridge, we found the pig market. The boys put a coin in the pig to ensure they would return to Florence. Cameron said “Why would I want to come back when I have already seen it?”  Nicole answered "For the leather handbags, bruscetta and cappachinos"
Then on to the centre of town to Piazza di Republica.
Francesca and Nicole looked at the Tuscan Cookery books in the Piazza
We stopped for a coffee at a traditional coffee bar, Francesca's favourite. A quick slurp of coffee at the bar, the kids wolfing down some delicious cake, and we were underway (back out into the 38 degrees heat) again.
The next stop was Palazzo Vecchio and it was lovely and cool in the courtyards. We visited the outdoor sculpture museum and a statue of David. This sits a short walk from the entrance of the famous Uffizi gallery, with its European High Season queues.
Sculpture of Michaelangelo outside the Uffizi.
Locks on the chain, between the Uffizi and the River Arno.
We made our way through the old town to the famous Duomo cathedral. The Baptismal had some fantastic decorations (the paradise door) although it was difficult to get close with the tour groups.
We entered the cathedral and loved the design and the space. We didn’t love the canned announcement “Shhh…Silencio! Shhh…Silence” every few minutes.
The 24 hour clock fascinated us!
We decided due to the heat that we wouldn’t climb the Cupola here, but all agreed to do so when we visited St Peters at the Vatican.
We searched for shady side streets to keep us cool

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