My Week in Italy: Florence
One of the Many Bakeries in Florence
Traveling From Rome to Florence
From the Termini station, we took a regional train to Florence's Santa Maria Novella station. The ticket costs 17.35 Euros and there is no seat reservation. Luckily, end November is not a peak period and we did not have to worry about standing throughout the train ride. The train was also on-time and we reached Florence, or known locally as Firenze, in about 3 hours.
Art Tuesdays: Free Entrance to Pitti Palace and Uffizi Gallery
As we had reached Florence on the last Tuesday on November, we took advantage of the "Art Tuesdays" opening of museums. This meant that we could enter many renowned museums for free from 7pm onwards. After dinner, we crossed the Arno river via the beautiful Ponte Vecchio (Ponte means bridge) in order to reach the Pitti Palace. The bridge is brightly lit and has shop after shop selling jewellery. We stopped a while to take pictures from the bridge and to admire the beautiful scenery. Then, we went ahead to Pitti Palace which was the former home of the Medici family. The palace itself is huge and you can view wonderful paintings and furniture such as tables, clocks and so on.
Our next stop for the night was the Uffizi Gallery. Here, you have to go through a scanner and no water is allowed in. So, before you head in, finish up. Due to the free entry, there was a queue and we waited for about 15 minutes before entering. The gallery itself is filled to the brim with paintings after paintings and in one section, sculptures after sculptures! Indeed, it is here that I finally understood why Florence is so popular for its art museums.....After the 2 visits, we were tired out so we did not manage to visit the Accademia.
The Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy
Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy, Mercato Centrale and San Lorenzo market
Early next morning, we took the train for a day trip to Pisa and you can read about our adventures in Pisa here. After coming back from Pisa, we stopped by the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy. The strong and fragrant scents hit you from the moment you step into the pharmacy. All sorts of remedies can be found here ranging from anti-aging, to increasing one's metabolism rate to lowering cholesterol. A must visit especially if you are passing by the train station area.
On our last day in Florence, we walked towards our first stop: Mercato Centrale, which is an indoor food market. Contrary to our expectations, the market was clean and well decorated. In fact, there are food stalls inside too including the famous Nerbonne which serves really good beef-based foods. While we were in Mercato Centrale, a lady selling German food also very generously offered us huge samples of goulash (beef soup with potatoes). It was delicious! Just outside of the market you can shop for leather goods at the San Lorenzo market.
The Duomo: Santa Maria del Fiore Church
From here, we took a short detour to Via Faenza (Via means street) to visit the Cenacolo del Fuligno. Entrance is free but on the day that we were there, the entrance was guarded by an old man who didn't speak English. After some miscommunication, we realised that we had to sign the visitor's book before entering. We then proceeded to enter and enjoyed the art in the small museum. Next, we visited the city's most well-known church, the Santa Maria del Fiore church, also just known as the Duomo. Entrance is also free but you will have to pay if you wish to visit the crypt, dome, campanile or baptistery. Take your time in the church and you can even sit down as you study the hard work that went into designing this church.
A must visit: The Uffizi Gallery
Art, art and more art in Florence
After lunch, we then headed to the Uffizi Gallery again. Before coming to Italy, I had learnt that there are free visits to the Contini Bonacossi Collection on Thursdays. Note that the explanation by the museum staff are entirely in Italian. The collection of paintings, sculptures, ceramics and furnishing was definitely interesting. However, as we were not allowed to venture freely but had to stick to the larger group, it got boring after a while as we did not understand Italian. After the 45 minutes tour of the collection had ended, we headed out to the Piazza della Signoria where the Palazzo Vecchio is situated too. Here, you can take pictures of a fake David if like me, you did not have the chance to visit the Accademia to see Michelangelo's masterpiece.
More information on Traveling Around Europe
- Day 1 in Paris: The Louvre and More...
- Day 2 in Paris: Exploring Montmartre, Champs Elysees...
- Day 3 near Paris: Visiting Versailles
- Day 4 in Paris: From Marais to the Bastille
- Day 5 in Paris: From St Germain to Champs Elysees
- Day 6 in Paris: Opera, Perfume and Fashion!
- My Week in Italy: Venice
- My Week in Italy: Rome
- My Week in Italy: Pisa
Leather at Santa Croce
Slightly farther away from the centre of Florence is the Santa Croce area. Here, you can stop by the Leather School of Santa Croce, the Scuola del Cuoio, where you can see the actual process of making leather products and shop for some too! You will also notice the Basilica of Santa Croce here too. This was our last stop in Florence before we headed to Venice by train early next day. However, I am sure that if given the opportunity to visit Italy again, I will make another visit to Florence again! Just walking around the Unesco World Heritage city centre is enough to lift my spirits. And indeed, many of the buildings here would be a great backdrop for wedding photos! But that is another story for another time....