Day 24 – Firenze

We woke up planning to go to Venice for the weekend, having identified the night before one potential apartment on the Lido and another in San Polo. Though they were fair prices, Lorna hoped the price would fall further over night or that a phone call from her (in her fluent Italian) would lead to the hotel paying us to stay there. Somewhere from my dreams, I thought why not go to Florence instead. It’s obviously much further, but we have been to Venice quite a lot and the food is terrible*. Surprisingly, given it was a weekend in August, there was a lot of good accommodation in Florence available, including a penthouse family suite overlooking the city at a quarter of its normal price**

We drove through the rain among the fantastically reckless Italian drivers. One had peeled off the insides of a tunnel and reduced his car to half its original size in his zeal to get to where he wanted to go to. The only trouble we had was getting to the hotel. It took us almost an hour to make the final 2km, not because of excess traffic but owing to Florence’s one way system and Sat Nav Sally’s ignorance of it. We were assured by the hotel staff that we would undoubtedly receive a note from the Firenze police because we had strayed into forbidden areas. We shall see.

Lorna and I have only visited Florence once and that for only one day when we were staying near Sam Gemignano. It may have been frustrating not being able to find our hotel, but what a tour of the city.

Our hotel rooms have magnificent views over the city and a rooftop pool with equal views. The hotel is set in a large open square (see picture below). I’ll download some pictures from my iPhone when I’ve attached it a wifi connection (no extortionate roaming charges for me), but in the meantime here are two that I’ve taken from the hotel website. We finished the download of the Green Zone (see previous posting) and for good measure downloaded 2 other films.

Braving the storms overhead with hotel umbrellas, we ate lunch with good food in our piazza (but were overcharged). We then took the 2 minute walk to the Duomo (magnificent outside and still largely empty inside). We then queued (in the rain) to get into the Accademia. The girls were well behaved and we learnt about Michelangelo, musical instruments and Triptychs.

The storm dissipated and we took to the streets again exploring without plan the beauties of Florence. I like it; it’s small enough to see easily and most things are in one place (not like Rome for example) and it wasn’t too crowded (as Venice would have been).

Nancy swam in the pool, but concentrated on her breaststroke rather than the view. We went to a recommended restaurant on the South of the river. I liked what I had (pear fagottini) but Tilly and Lorna thought their meals too salty. I vow to get my pasta making machine out of the cupboard when I get home.

Tilly bought a €5 ice cream on the Ponte Vecchio on the way home as we wandered exploring this alley and that piazza. The streets were full of English people (from Surrey no doubt) strolling in the warm evening air and taking in the opera singing buskers. Even Lorna decided to forgive Florence its excess English tourists.

* For those who haven’t travelled much in Italy, don’t think that I’m recommending anywhere over Venice. Venice may now be a theme park, but it’s magnificent. It’s packed with history, beauty, interest and intrigue. The number one destination in the number one tourist country in the world. We’ve just been there a few times and wanted to see something different.

** When planning our road trip in peak season, I assumed that you would have to book in advance as there would be no accommodation for a family at the last minute. It turns out this wasn’t true.

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