Sadly, we only spent a few days in Venice and I could have easily spent more time there. Early this morning, we took the vaporetto back to the train station and waited for our train to Florence. The nice weather we had for the first week went away and it was hit or miss the last week in Italy. Florence was a great city though, filled with lots of awesome restaurants and museums.
When we arrived at the train station, we figured we could just walk to our hotel, which was located near the Uffizi Gallery. We trudged along with our luggage and it was kind of a pain in the ass because there were so many tourists in the way. We had to ask where our hotel was because we missed it twice. It was in a small side street but thankfully found it after we asked. We were so happy the hotel had an elevator and they gave us a giant room too! I don’t even think I had a room this big on my wedding night. It was certainly a big room for European standards. definitely a drastic change from our hotel in Venice.
We had a lot of things on our list to see so we got right to that day. We started by just walking out by our hotel into the Piazza della Signoria and Loggia dei Lanzi. It was neat seeing a lot of these statues out in the open, even though a lot of them were copies. We ended up going to The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, Il Duomo after that. It’s free to go inside but there was a long line but it went really quickly. We waited maybe less than 5 minutes. I’m still amazed how big this thing was. Definitely one of the biggest cathedrals I’ve seen. The inside is just as impressive. You can go up to the tower or the dome itself but we didn’t want to do that.
I really wanted to see Basilica di Santa Croce and I think it’s a must-see if you visit Florence (besides the Duomo of course). It has tombs of many famous Italians like Michelangelo, Rossini, Machiavelli, Galileo, and others. Not to mention there’s other things connected to it with lots of artwork and statues. By the end of the visit, it was starting to rain. So we ended up walking to Palazzo Vecchio and checking that out. I was surprised to see that it was open until midnight on certain days. I don’t think any museum in the States is open until then. That place reminded me a bit like Palace of Versailles a little, because of all the paintings on the ceiling. One of the paintings there was a long-time UFO conspiracy painting with what looks like a UFO in it. It definitely looks like a flying saucer in the painting, but it’s probably not that. When we left Palazzo Vecchio, it was a downpour out so we decided to sit inside a little on the steps until it died down.
After resting up a bit in the hotel, we wanted to walk over the famous Ponte Vecchio and have dinner. In that area, there are a lot of great restaurants. It wasn’t raining at the time, so we stopped to take some nice pictures along the river and of the bridge. I noticed the clouds were going fast and thickening up. As we were crossing the bridge, I noticed a wall of rain clouds going over the river so I captured that and it ended up being one of my favorite photos of the trip. Then BOOM, the rain hit and we hid under the Ponte Vecchio. We weren’t getting rained on but it was pretty scary at times because it was thundering and lightning out. Kristen HATES thunderstorms so having her outside during one wasn’t fun for her. I mean, I was chuckling how worried she was getting but it was still kind of scary. I was just happy we weren’t getting rained on, so I kept taking video and pictures during the almost half-hour storm.
Once the storm let up, we walked to a restaurant we thought was one we wanted to go but it ended up being a good mistake since the place was fantastic anyway. We had a variety of cheeses, I had the Steak Florentine, Kristen had gnocchi and we split all that. One of the best meals we had in Italy. We ended up chatting with a nice Brazilian newlywed couple for almost 2 hours. That was the great thing about Italy, in particular Florence, just chatting with so many nice people. You’re sitting next to them, might as well make the best of it and get to know the people you’re eating next to. At first, you don’t know the people next to you and then later on, you’re getting offered their dessert or wine. It’s just something that doesn’t happen a whole lot over in the US.
Despite the rain, the day in Florence was great and we managed to do a lot.
Prints in this set are available for purchase! You’ll certainly help me out if you bought a print or two! They make lovely gifts. Just Let me know which photo(s) you’re interested in (please provide alt tag or #) and I’ll give you a quote. Photos are also available for licensing to your website, magazine, facebook page, etc. as well.