Of course it took us much less time to get to the station that on our "dry run" day, so we had 1 1/2 hours to kill. Hmmmmm what to do? Well, an espresso is always a great idea, here's David having an espresso the Italian way, standing at a little table:
We found our way to the taxi line, and we were soon off to our apartment. It was a short ride across the river, through some very narrow winding streets. At two corners, our driver had to back up and re-negotiate those very tight spots. I was afraid he was going to scrape the sides of his taxi, but I'm sure he's used to it!
Our apartment is in the old town part of Florence, just across the river Arno from all the tourist hustle and bustle, which suits us just fine. It's on a v-e-r-y narrow lane. We rang the bell to be let in, and were greeted by our very friendly host. She showed us to our apartment, and we were welcomed with a lovely fruit bowl, and pastries and yogurt for breakfast. She kindly gave us directions to the best cafe, espresso shop and grocery store. How nice!
WOW! Another great apartment. This one is smaller, but very charming. It's in a very old building (duh!) and has a wonderful courtyard with little tables, and even some "sun" chairs! Here are a few pictures of this pretty little garden:
We very carefully noted the cross streets and landmarks on our way out of our neighborhood--we might be a bit "gun shy" after being lost so often in Venice! But no problems here--our map actually seems to be accurate, unlike in Venice.
We explored our immediate neighborhood a bit, it's kid of sleepy and quiet--a nice change from Venice!
We came across a beautiful church, The Santa Maria Novella. We went in to look around, it was beautiful! No pictures allowed, again. But here's the exterior:
We crossed the river Arno on the Amerigo Vespucci bridge, and turned down a likely looking little side street. It was past time for some lunch, so we chose a little cafe and shared a pizza and beer. We noticed a young man next to us eating a big pot of mussels--yum! Maybe we can remember where that cafe is for dinner one night!
We turned down another likely looking street, and there it was-- Il Duomo! The dome of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore.
The exterior of the church is very ornate, inlaid marble in white, pink, green and black. It is beautiful!
(And very hard to get a good picture of, as there are buildings all around)
Here is the beautiful bell tower:
We walked in the door, our eyes slowly adjusting to the low light. We were stunned! It was very plain. Very, very plain. Now, I'm not saying it's not beautiful in it's own way, but our expectations were high after seeing the outside.
There is very little interior decoration. The vault is quite plain, but stately: