May 11, 2011
Italy Day 13: Florence
Our time in Paris was glorious, but alas it was time to move onto the next place: Florence! We got up early and cleaned up the apartment, had a quick coffee and took off on our usual route on the Metro from Censier-Daubenton to Chatelet... but this time with all of our luggage! Adventurous as always, we schlepped all of our stuff on the Metro to the RER and found a good 4-seat area to sit on the RER. It was fun. Arriving at the airport we then took a bus to the correct terminal and had a "Paul" pastry for lunch and a coffee. I caught up on my journal and then we boarded the plane for Florence.
Air France was pretty awesome and was quite fancy, fancier already than our International IcelandAir flight! We got a snack on the plane and after leaving fancy CDG airport we arrived quite quickly in Florence. We grabbed our bags and zoomed right into a cab. The cab driver navigated these incredibly tiny roads and dropped us off about 20 min later at the Academy Hostel, a place Norm stayed in a year or two before. It's rated one of the best hostels in Europe and it was amazing and an insanely good location... 1 minute from the Duomo!!!
We dropped off our stuff and ventured out to see the Duomo. It was beautiful but we didn't have time to go inside or up it, but it was great to see just from the outside too. From there we headed straight for Piazza Della Signoria to go meet my friend Kate from Central back in London, Ontario!! Another event that we can thank the good people at Facebook for - Kate had noticed I was going to be traveling in Italy about the same time as her and her family, we chatted on Facebook and it turned out that we'd be in Florence on exactly the same day. Absolutely insane coincidence!! It was really great to get together and chat after so long and catch up, and also to hear about the amazing trip she was on with her family. Such a great time. Kate's Dad very kindly treated us to gelato and it tasted like a dream come true.
We said goodbye to Kate and her family and continued on towards the Ponte Vecchio. We took the requisite photos and continued up the stairs at Piazzale Michelangelo. After a short hike we were rewarded with a huuuuuge panoramic view of Florence and man was it glorious. I got out my fancy new zoom lens and got to take it for a whirl, getting some close up shots of the outside of the Duomo and the big Synagogue in Florence. The cafe on the lower level was beckoning us, so we went to sit and enjoy some music, the view, and a Cafe Shakkerato. Those are SO good.
Back down the steps, we tried to get a seat at a restaurant called Vini e Vecchi Sapori rated quite simply, the #1 (yes, number ONE) out of a whopping 836 restaurants in Florence on TripAdvisor. This was a place not to miss, but we figured we would be way out of luck trying to book the same night. And we were. We had no luck on the reservation as they only have 16 chairs and maybe 5 tables! We secured a reservation for dinner on the way back through Florence next week.
We headed back to the hostel and had some of the hostel food, pizza at a small takeaway place and some more gelato. We wandered the streets and many open-air plazas and it had such a good evening vibe, I love that excitement and music in the air in Florence at night. We found a gorgeous Opera singer belting out some passionate music accompanied by an accordion player. A busker dressed as Charlie Chaplin walked up near to Dad and it was hilarious!! He looked at the girl who was singing so frickin' beautifully and sighed to himself and went sauntering off with a "I can never compete with that" expression in his face and walk!! So hilarious and unexpected.
Our walk continued and we ended up back in Piazza Della Signoria at the clock tower. A guitarist was playing some Simon and Garfunkel at the same exact spot I'd sat listening to the same musician with Crystine, Jess and Monique almost exactly 4 years earlier. It made me miss them a lot and the fun times we got to share together last time I was in Italy.
After a great night of walking and wandering the beautiful evening streets of Florence, we walked back to the hostel to send off a few emails and go to sleep.