Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, is a city that I originally wanted to go to with my friend named Florence. Unfortunately she hadn’t been able to visit me in Europe when I was there, so I went with my dad instead. I will be going back though, next time hopefully with the real Florence 😛
The thing is, my dad and I went to Pisa in the morning and planned to get back to Florence in the early afternoon so that we’d still have most of the day in Florence. For some reason, on that particular day, all trains running between Pisa and Florence were delayed…for up to an hour and a half! While waiting in the Pisa train station, delays were announced on top of delays and after much frustration, we lost a total of 2 hours that would have otherwise been spent in Florence. Boo! Sunlight was scarce and we missed a lot that was planned. So you see why I will be going back, eventually 😛
The Arno river traverses the city centre, painting Florence in exceptionally picturesque colours while as it is reflected in the water. Connecting the two sides is the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval stone bridge well-known for having shops occupying the bridge on both sides, usually jewelry shops.
Our “day” in Florence started at around 4pm, which was when we got back from Pisa after many “technical difficulties”. By the time we reached Ponte Vecchio, the sun has already set and the lamps along the river were beginning to light up. This photo was taken on the Ponte Vecchio, towards the Piazzale Michelangelo in the far right. Supposedly, this plaza, on top of a big hill, offers an excellent panoramic view of Florence. My dad and I were going to go for a lovely sunset but after the huge delay, decided against it as it would be dark by the time we reached the plaza 😦 A bit unfortunate, but just another reason to return to Florence!
As we strolled along the streets of Florence, we chanced upon a parade that was taking place in the city. Unsure what was going on, we joined the spectacle, watching men and women dressed in costumes march down the streets either on foot or on horses. Some had musical instruments (including a lot of drums) to add festive music to the parade. Whatever it was, it sure livens up the city!
I noticed the fleur-de-lis on the flags (?) that these musicians were carrying. Apparently this exact red fleur-de-lis is on the coat of arm of the city of Florence. And what funky hats these men had!
Saw this sign at a random corner in Florence and I thought it was an amusing and creative addition to an otherwise everyday object. It must be tiring carrying that heavy bar. Time to take a break perhaps, little man?
Can’t really say “I ❤ Florence" yet because I've seen so little of the city that I can't determine whether I love it or not. But I do love my friend Florence, back in good ol' Canada 😉 The Italian name for Florence is "Firenze", which in my opinion sounds so much more elegant and…suave than its English counterpart.
At night, we passed by the Florence cathedral (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore), right in the centre of the city. Wow, the architecture of the cathedral was IMPRESSIVE, quite different than the other cathedrals I’ve seen in Europe. Looking at it for too long makes my eyes slightly dizzy actually, especially when lit up so brightly against the night sky. You could go to the top of the Duomo (dome of the cathedral), but once again it was too late to climb it (but I wouldn’t hesitate it next time!) Any panoramic view of any city is worth any amount of climbing 😉
And food. Voilà, the reason why this post was titled “T-bone steak and tiramisu” – yep, bistecca alla fiorentina. That’s gigantic T-bone steak, a specialty in Florence, Italy. One of my missions in Florence was to have this steak and boy was it good. Generally, Florentine T-bone steaks are priced per 100 g. I originally thought that we got to choose the amount of meat that we wanted, but it turned out that the steaks are pre-weighed at a minimum of 1 kg each…hmm. It may not look so huge from the photo but with the bone, our steak weighed 1.1 kg…! Of course this whole thing was shared between me and my dad, making us both very full by the end of the dinner. I think neither of us has had such good steak for a long time. Aside from the meat we had white beans and roasted potatoes (probably the best I’ve had in my life) as side dishes and a nice red wine to accompany the meal. Mission happily accomplished.
The aftermath was a pretty clean plate and two contented customers. I was surprised that the bone wasn’t all that huage – I had expected that with 1.1 kg of steak, the bone would be at least quite substantial in size. Seems like we did in fact eat A LOT of meat… 😛
To finish off the night in Florence, I had the restaurant’s home-made tiramisu which was guiltily satisfying. The next day, my dad and I would head to Milan early in the morning and take a flight back to Bordeaux, ending our 5-day self-guided tour around the main tourist cities in Italy – Venice, Rome, and Florence. As I didn’t hesitate to mention before, we didn’t spend nearly as much time as we should have in Florence. I can’t say whether I liked it that much (except for the food, which was phenomenal compared to Venice and Rome), but the short trip was a good overview to the much acclaimed Firenze of Tuscany. Next time, Florence, you are going to Florence with me 😛 Next post: Pisa 🙂