Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Firenze - Florence

There was a four-day weekend in November for a school holiday. School holiday for kids, not teachers who were in training. So we went off to Florence. We had wonderful Fall weather and really enjoyed our time. This was our 2nd visit as we had visited for a day while on our Rome trip 2 years ago. We always thought we should go back and it was well worth it.

The pictures are a bit out of sequence but if I move them around now you won't be able to click them on full view so they'll stay put and let's see how I do.

Now what I don't have a picture of is the start of our journey. We rose at 4:45 so we could make it to the airport for a 7:30am flight direct to Florence. Due to weather in Florence (fog and low ceilings), we didn't leave Zurich until 8:30am. During the loading procedures, the captain explained that Florence was still not able to accept in-coming traffic but they hoped it would be clear by time we were on approach. AND, they had taken on enough extra fuel to stay in a holding pattern for up to 2 hours. FUN!

We take off out of the fog covering Zurich into clear blue skies - everything over about 1,000ft was sparkling clear and flying over the Alps was breathtaking. I can say that even after 3 1/2 yrs of it. Get's me every time. As this is only a 50 minute flight, the airport was still not able to handle the delayed traffic and after circling Florence airspace once, the captain came on to tell us that we were being diverted to Pisa and would be transported to the Florence airport via Coach.

The girls were delighted. They like riding the big buses. Bart and I were less thrilled but what can you do? No - in spite of landing in Pisa, we have yet to see the leaning Tower. Side note: everyone I know that has gone simply says "we went, took a few pictures, and left." So that will probably be our only sojourn to Pisa, Italy. We arrived safely in Florence after an hour bus ride and then took our life in our hands with the taxi ride to the hotel. I told Bart I was glad he was in the front seat and not I. He said "I wore a hole in the floor hitting the imaginary brake!" Ah - Italy! Love it!

So here we go -

The picture below contains at least 3 turrets/towers. The hillsides and landscapes around this whole region are littered with these. The prosperous families showed off their wealth and status via their towers. Whatever the history, it makes for a romantic landscape. City of Florence from the edge of the Boboli Gardens, behind the Pitti Palace. This city has so much history - art and power.
Here we are - enjoying a beautiful day in the Boboli Gardens. The gardens are huge and hundreds of years old - 16th century. Great place to relax, enjoy the view and let the kids run around.
Couldn't decide which sunset picture over the River Arno was my favorite. I chose this one to share: Dare I explain this next picture? Will we appear shallow and disrespectful? Many of the Cathedrals/Chapels/Churches have 'in-floor' tombs and Kendra doesn't like to walk on them. This was the 'romantics gallery' adjacent to the Santa Croce (houses the tombs of Michelangelo & Galileo) and is a mausoleum of sorts. They started acting a bit silly about getting her into the gallery - such are our travels with young people.
The Duomo Group - Chapel, Cathedral and Bell Tower. One of my personal favorite. I love the symmetry of the stone and colors.
Our apartment rocked!!! It was down the street from the Duomo and around the block from the Academia which houses Michelangelo's David. In a residential building and as quiet as one can get in an Italian city - garbage trucks come rumbling at 5am. In fact, it seems all the Italian cities are loud: Rome, Milan, Florence...... Except for Sunday mornings, then they are very, very quiet.
Back to the apartment. Stayed in an apartment vs a hotel for this trip. It had the sitting area below with eating quarters, a small, very well appointed kitchen and upstairs a master loft bedroom with attached study/second bedroom. AND, they had stocked it with a variety of fresh fruit, a bottle of Chianti, Orange Juice, a liter of still water and the necessities for a pasta dinner + breakfast included each day at the cafe across the street AND it was all included in our - 160 Euro/night price. Probably one of the best deals we have ever gotten in Europe for a family of 4.
160 Euro!!! with 2 bathrooms. Showers that were big enough to move in. With hot water. Comfy beds. Complimentary food. Now - this was November. Not the height of tourist season. Still, Thank You "First of Florence." I would highly recommend it and would stay there again.
Kendra popped out of the Duomo whistling away and the nice Italian charicature artist started in with the "Bella - I must draw you - bella, bella." Well, we had no place urgent to go, it was less expensive to do both girls and so down they sat. They really like their pictures and parts of their personalities were definitely captured. They also insisted Bart & I sit. So we did. Hilarious. It will not be posted on the blog but you can see it if you visit the Olson's. :)
Love these girls:
We had fun shopping - prices were definitely cheaper than in Switzerland. I've done some comparisons on the purses I saw and many of them were 20- 25% less. Except the really big designers - then it's pretty much even.
This is their motto:
They take great pride in making their goods and they really try to crack down on the knock-off street sellers.
So - another successful trip. We continue to enjoy exploring different cities and historical places. And eating Italian food!

1 comment:

mandy said...

I wouldn't want to walk on those tombs either. ick...