Sunday morning dawned overcast and slightly chilly, but with no rain – as an English person that is what we always hope for most!
Breakfast in the hotel today was BUSY! There seemed to have been an influx of Italian tourists, here for the Bank Holiday weekend, and they all just stood around chatting! When it is a help yourself buffet in a very small room this does not make it easy! However, we were in a relaxed holiday mood, so just went with the flow!
Having had our breakfast we went back to our room, packed, checked out and left our cases with reception.
Our plan for today was to visit the Palazzo Vecchio – I was really interested to go here after reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. Leaving the hotel at 9.45am the streets were already teeming with people and we had to queue for about 15 minutes to get tickets to get into the museum. However, once inside, as long as you didn’t get trapped by the groups of tourist on guided tours, it was relatively easy to move around inside.
The Hall of the Five Hundred (Salone dei Cinquecento) was as impressive as I had hoped it would be. We just stood there in awe!
Not only were the paintings on the walls immense, the ceiling had been painted too and there were some incredible statues placed around the edges of the room.
We explored all round the museum, seeing some fantastic paintings and were also very impressed by the map room.Having spent a wonderful couple of hours here, we collected our backpack from the cloakroom, used the facilities and then made a move to our next destination.
This wasn’t very far, as it was just outside in the Piazza della Signoria – the Loggia dei Lanzi. Here there are some marvelous statues and we took our time enjoying looking at them all .. and of course taking some photos!
We had decided that we would spend the afternoon exploring the Basilica de Santa Croce and so made our way towards it, looking for somewhere to have lunch on the way. The Church didn’t open until 2pm as there were services there in the morning. We investigated several restaurants, but ended up in one overlooking Santa Croce. As the restaurant had outside heaters we sat outside, to soak up the atmosphere! There was a Christmas market in the square in front of the church, so it was very busy and we did lots of people watching.
Lunch was a fantastic pizza each
and then it was time to get into another queue! This moved relatively quickly once the ticket office opened.
The Basilica is the largest Franciscan church in the world. Its most notable features are its sixteen chapels, many of them decorated with frescoes by Giotto and his pupils, and its tombs and cenotaphs (Wikipedia).
We spent ages here. It was spectacular and also quite humbling to see the tombs of so many great people in one place.
We arrived in the last small chapel and sat on the seats there for a while to think over what a wonderful weekend we had experienced and to take in the painting before us – the Last Supper by Taddeo Gaddi and above that the Tree of Life.
We then reluctantly made our way back to the hotel to collect our cases. After a drink and resting our weary feet, we made our way back to the station to catch the bus back to the airport.
If you have never been to Florence I can HIGHLY recommend it. We had the most fantastic time there. It is small enough that walking around it is easy (although crowded) and everything is very close together. Two days wasn’t enough time to see everything, but long enough to get a taste of it and want to go back! Perhaps next time in the spring and to also go out into the countryside a bit!