After several experiences of the difficulties of finding parking in the historical town centers we've been visiting (& the terrible narrow alleyways you have to negotiate to get to any), we made the decision to head into Florence by train from Pescia which brought us right into the centre of the city. With only 6 hours in the city, we had a carefully plotted itinerary: catch the big names of the Duomo and Ponte Vecchio as well as walking up to Pizziali Michelangelo, just outside the old walls of the city. We had been warned by Paul, the manager of La Spinosa, that Florence is always overrun with tourists (like us), and it certainly was. At times we felt like we should have had one if the flags that your guides use, just so we didn't lose track of each other in the throng. The Duomo was closed because of Easter preparations, but the cathedral was open and well worth the short line. It is such a huge space that despite the crowds it was still possible to appreciate it's beauty in relative peace. The Ponte Vecchio approach was madness, jostling crowds cheek by jowl, and then suddenly much quieter on the bridge because the intent of most tourists seemed to be to have a photo against the backdrop or on the two open spaces on the bridge. Next we headed up to the Piazzali Michelangelo for the most incredible view of the city, unfortunately one muddied a little by the smog. The next part of the itinerary after a quick lunch ( here as in Rome you can get a foccacia and drink for two people for €6) was shopping. Florence has some really classy shops and even their souvenir market stalls are often a cut above average- lots of leather, but also fine quality paper, artists selling their original work, balsamic, limoncello and more.
As I said a great day, which was unfortunately marred on the way home by a collision between two of Ryan's tires and the side of the narrow Pescia road while trying to avoid oncoming traffic. It has joined my scraping of one side of our hire car along a narrow Castelvecchio alleyway, the crisis with our Rome accommodation, my causing us to miss our plane from Melbourne and Mum's brief loss of her handbag in the London taxi when we arrived as a series of very unfortunate events which have sometimes threatened to derail our enjoyment of this trip. We're booked in for a very special dinner at the local agritourismo tonight, but I'm not sure we're going to make it!
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