The Retirees go Abroad – Florence

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The hot weather has continued. Even as we awake we can tell it will be another stinking hot day, but we have booked our tickets and we are going to Florence – home of David. Not David Colch; the real statue of  David by Michelangelo. We arrive at the station and the train turns up if not on time a little ahead of time. So un-Italian!

Arriving in Florence our plan of action was to catch the hop on hop off bus and determine what sights we wanted to see. We knew that the bus station was “just outside” the railway station but the railway station was large and very busy. In addition there were a number of entrances. We made our way to the front and watched as one of the Hop on buses sailed passed the station. Kerry skilfully tracked it down and we managed to catch a Blue Line bus – you have a choice of blue, red or yellow each with a different route.

Our tour took us past the river and up onto a hill overlooking the city where we got fabulous views of the Duomo, the Palace and a look alike statue of David above the Acadamie where the original stands (and you can view for a small fee around €30). We thought we would see what else was on offer.

The next point of interest was the Ponte Vecchio – a bridge similar to the Rialto Bridge in Venice – covered with shops. However this one had an additional feature. It provided a secret path between the Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Vecchio for the lords to pass without the commoners knowing. The bridge is covered with jewellery shops and tourists. We walked across rather quickly trying to keep to the shade and on to Palazzo Pitti. I found this to be a large colourless building and as it was too hot lunch beckoned.

So we found a restaurant. Walking back to the Ponte we encountered Hotel Scarletta. They offered a two course plate for 15€ and we decided to splurge. The sign directed us into a passage and then into a chamber where the sign told us the restaurant and reception were on the third floor. A decrepit old elevator edged its way down and on opening the following notice appeared – “two people only and no unaccompanied baggage”. The girls got in and Veronica was concerned that she would lose her breasts as the cabin was so small. David and I walked the 96 steps to the reception.

The restaurant was located on an “altana” above reception and had fabulous views including the Observatory where Galileo’s astronomical instruments are kept, Palazzio Pitti and the houses that surround it. But most impressive were the fans with the misters. This cooled the atmosphere noticeably and the waitress who had been rather terse. After lunch, which was very tasty and a lot more expensive than the 15 euros we had planned to spend, we ventured to the “altana above the restaurant and got a view of the whole city – Palazzo Vecchio and the dome of Duomo.

Finished with lunch we visited Palazzo Vecchio and the statutes that adorn the Palazzo.

Next was the Duomo.

We made our way back to the Hop on bus stop outside the station and caught a yellow line bus just as a large storm hit the city. The yellow line includes all of the blue line stops but then it goes off into the mountains to Fiesole, a small village often the summer home to Florentines over the centuries. It was then that my battery died so there is only the one photo from the hills.

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