After Pisa, Cinque Terre and Lucca, it was time to hit the last city of my four-day tour of Tuscany/Cinque Terre and go back to one of my favourite cities I’ve ever been to, Firenze (Florence). I had been in 2008, so I had already seen the statue of the David, Ponte Vecchio, il Duomo and all the other amazing things Florence has to offer. It left me wanting more, of course, which is why I based my trip out of Florence.
The Tuscan capital has 379,000 people but feels much bigger, maybe due to all the tourists. It was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and today boasts many important sculptures and paintings. For those of us who aren’t artistically minded, the city itself is beautiful and located in a valley with mountains and hills all around. The Arno River flows through the city centre, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was also home to the powerful and famous Medici family.
I went without much planned. I had wanted to go to Sienna and San Gimignano, but I was tired of the train changing and needed to rest a bit, so those towns will have to wait for another trip. I arrived to Florence around 17:00 (5 PM) and checked into my pension close to the train station. Arriving in the Santa Maria Novella train station is a chaotic adventure, with trains arriving and taking off to destinations all over the boot peninsula.
I found my way back to the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, the Piazza della Signora, the Palazzo Pitti and all the amazing monuments I had seen in 2008. I admired the outside replica of the Davide statue (the real one is inside the Galleria della Academia) and the Fountain of Neptune for a bit before deciding to make my way to the Piazza de Michelangelo for the sunset.
I was not the only one who had this idea, but this time I was able to shrug off the tourists and enjoy one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen. It ranks right up there with Mirador de San Nicolas in Granada and Cabo Sounion in Greece.
I had an expensive risotto and wine for dinner before getting some rest. The bed was not comfortable, and it ended up affecting my back (it still hurts nearly a week later!). I slept though and woke up without any major plan. I went looking for Il Porcellino, the famous boar statue that tradition says if you rub its snout and drop a coin from its mouth, and the coin lands in the grates, you will have good luck and come back to Florence. It looks like my luck may finally be changing, and also that this was not my last visit to Florence.
After strolling along the Arno a while and having a great cappuccino in a café named for one of my favourite writers, Hemingway, I found a place in my Spanish tour guide for Florence called Fiesole in the hills near Florence. I took off after a quick stop in the market near San Lorenzo.
To arrive at Fiesole, I had to take a bus from Piazza de San Marco (number 7), and about 20 minutes later, I was in this incredible village 8 kilometres outside the city centre. The return trip is when I learned that buying a bus ticket on board the bus will cost more. Be warned!
The village has spectacular views of the amazing city of Florence along with a Roman theatre (which I didn’t have time or money to visit unfortunately, too many risotti and Chianti!) I visited an old church and admired the beautiful vistas. It was a great break from the tourists. Although the village is pretty famous for its views, during my visit, it was quite peaceful. I finally found the peace and quiet I was looking for.
As I had to catch a 3:40 AM bus to the airport in Pisa, I didn’t really have a chance to explore the nightlife of Florence this time around. I would love to share this city with a boyfriend one day and tour all of Tuscany with a car. The return to Spain went without a hitch, although my penance for arriving early at the Pisa airport was met with hurry up and wait as the plane left from a gate beyond passport control. Fortunately we just had to wait and not go through customs as this is European Union and my passport and NIE had been seen by the Ryan Air clerk who stamped my ticket at check-in. Flying is such a pain, but travelling is always worth it.
I average a trip to Italia every 2.5 years, so it’ll probably be 2017 or so for my next trip. I am hoping for Naples, Pompeii, Capri and/or Sicilia. Turin and Genoa are also options. There is so much to see in this amazing country.
That said…I still believe the Iberian peninsula, with Spain (and Euskadi and Catalunya), Andorra and Portugal is the greatest peninsula in the world.
Italia does give Iberia some fierce competition though.