Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Monday in Florence, A Day Full of Wonderful Surprises

Our Monday in Florence was nothing short of AMAZING.  We love this small, beautiful city, it's right up there with Paris!

We started our day with a visit to the big central market, what a great place.  It's full of food vendors selling all kinds of delicious Italian food.  We did a balsamic vinegar tasting, they start with the 5 year aged, and work up to the 25 year cask aged.  Wow, that 25 year stuff is $moooooth and $$eriousy delish.  (They even had 60 year aged--but they don't sample that!) We did buy some, but not the 25 year stuff!  We also stocked up on some groceries for the next few meals, it's hard to choose just a few items.

 We bought some yummy fresh gnocchi for our dinner tonight:
After we finished our shopping, we walked back to our apartment to unload.  All this delicious food is too heavy to carry around all day!  We took a scenic route back, and along the way popped into an antique store.  Look what we found for David:

Here's David walking down the street to our apartment:
We quickly put away our groceries, and went right back out.  We had seen several lunch spots at the market that looked very good, so we were going right back there!  Here's our yummy lunch:
We had no set plans for the afternoon, just our usual "wander and explore".  We set off from the market area, again just turning down a street that looked interesting.  The trouble here is...they ALL look interesting!  

We came upon a lovely looking church the Orsanmichele, and decided to take a look inside.  It was our lucky day--as it is free on Mondays.  We had a look around, and as we were leaving, a nice lady told us to be sure to go to the museum upstairs--which was only open on Mondays, and it was also free!  So up the narrow and winding stairs we went--we realized we were actually going up into the dome!

It's a small museum, with several marble and stone statues that have been "rescued" from the remains of the original church.  It was very interesting, and I was able to take a few pictures in this area:

We especially enjoyed the beautiful construction of the dome:
There were amazing views from each window of the dome:
After we left the Orsanmichele, it was time for a gelato.  We found an amazing "gourmet" gelato shop--the flavors were very interesting.  We chose a ricotta w/ caramelized figs and a rich custard flavor drizzled with really good balsamic vinegar.  Mmmmmmm-the best we've had so far! 

We chose another interesting looking street, and found ourselves in a nice shopping area.  We checked out one of Italy's main department stores, "Coin"--but nothing really exciting.  We also looked in several leather shops, I'm looking for just the right red leather pocketbook!  Didn't find it today, though.

By now our feet were tired, so we decided it was time for a sit down and rest our feet break.  This usually means a beer or two!  We found a nice little bar tucked away in a piazza, and ordered a beer and a "coca light".  What a nice group of people there!  The waiter was very friendly, and the waitress was lovely, and wanted to show me around her neighborhood.  She just took my arm, and off we went!  We saw the oldest tower in Florence, a very interesting inner courtyard of a large building--a very pretty statue there; and the Church of Dante.  All this in about a half block area! She pointed out some things I would have missed for sure, like this very old stone in the courtyard of the church with Dante's likeness on it:
Back to our exploring, we walked on, and on and on.......There is something wonderful to see around every corner.  We came to a very large piazza--and there was another big, beautiful church, the Church of Santa Croce:
We decided that a good look around was in order, and paid our 6 euros each.  Wow, were we in for a treat--what a treasure this place is!  And were actually allowed to take photos.

It is the burial place of Michaelangelo:
And Galileo:
It has some beautiful burial tombs:

There was a young woman hard at work, carefully cleaning a tomb with cotton balls:
Here are a few views of the interior:

We noticed a pretty outdoor courtyard:

While wandering around the courtyard, we saw signs for a museum--there was even more!
The museum is full of salvaged works of art from churches that have been damaged or are no longer standing.  There are some beautiful works, these two are Andrea della Robbia (1435) Glazed terra cotta

This was a crucifix that I especially liked:
 And a VERY large painting by Bartolini:

The Church of Santa Croce was a wonderful, unexpected find; we spent almost 2 hours there!

By now it was late afternoon, and we decided to slowly make our way back "home".  We thought we'd try a different bridge this time--a covered bridge that we'd seen the day before.

As we made our way toward the river, we had one more great surprise--the Piazza del Signore.  We had no idea, just happened upon it!  There are beautiful statues in the square, and a big reproduction of Michelangelo's David, (this piazza was the original spot for The David, it was moved in the late 1800's to The Academia museum)

We found our covered bridge, it was a pretty little spot:

In fact, it was so pretty, we decided to sit at a nice little sidewalk bar, have a drink and relax! 

We even had our own live music--an old accordion player in the bridge:
And here we are, on the bridge at sunset:
After that nice little interlude, we slowly walked through the old area back to our apartment.  We had a great dinner of that delicious gnocchi from the market, sauteed baby zucchini and salad.

It was a perfect day in Florence, full of delightful surprises at every corner!


  1. I don't know where to start. It was just all so beautiful and amazing. I loved it all. Your day could not have been more perfect. I stared at the looked delicious. This might have been the best day in Italy so far...wonderful finds. Rest many steps and miles you have walked. I wish you would have recorded the miles over these past few weeks. Thanks for the evenings I spend slowly looking at your blog. It's so much fun and educational. I am seeing things I would have never seen in my lifetime.

  2. BEAUTIFUL PICTURES! Loved them all - you truly must be in sensory-overload.