We just arrived in Rome 2 hours ago, and am I ever glad to get to our final destination! It’s unbelievable, yet a bit relieving that I’m almost at the end. I can’t wait to go back to my own bed and just sleep for a good two days! But first, here’s my review of Florence…
Italy is so multifaceted. Florence is beautiful, but in a different way from Venice. You have those windy and narrow roads, lots of one-way streets, old buildings… when I describe it, it sounds very similar to Paris, but when you are physically here, the feeling you get is quite different.
Our first day in Florence was mostly just walking, exploring, and eating. Ever since we came to Italy, we’ve been having gelato pretty much every day. We got popsicles instead of gelato the day before, and so I was craving gelato for a good 24 hours. The first thing we did, after dropping off our bags, was go satisfy this craving.
We walked past a lot of very beautiful buildings and a few lively squares, but didn’t walk into anything. The churches here are very different from what we’ve been seeing before. Perhaps the most famous of these in Florence is the Florence Cathedral, also known as the Duomo. Because of it’s age, its another one of those buildings that are permanently under renovation. Despite the scaffolds and cranes, you can still appreciate its beautiful from a fair distance.
For the most part, Florence reminds me a lot of Hong Kong. I’ve seen stall after stall of leather handbags/jackets, and most of the market squares sell female fashion items – purses, bags, scarves, wallets…. pretty much the same as Ladies Market. You can even tell that some of the quality really isn’t that nice; it even feels like Hong Kong quality. I guess your surroundings are a bit nicer here in Florence, but in essence, it’s the same thing.
As an example, I saw this Triangel doll in one of the toy stores here in Florence. It has all the ‘fake features’ that I was warned of by the guy who sold mine to me. In the pictures below, you can also see how the face looks different; the toes area all worn off; the hands are open rather than clenched. And because of witnessing these things, I find that a lot of Florence is just like Hong Kong.
We’ve been purposely trying to avoid pizza and pasta for our meals – we’ve had enough of that in Venice! Ironically, we were quite excited to get to Italy for “real Italian food”, until we realized how hard it is to get a taste of something other than pizza and pasta…
After our first day in Florence, I felt like we had pretty much seen everything already. So instead of walking around the market again, we decided on a spontaneous day trip to Pisa! So, funny story… I always thought that the Leaning Tower was in Rome (and yes, I know it’s the Leaning Tower of Pisa), until about a month ago I searched it up, and realized that it’s not in any of the cities we had planned to visit! So I guess that was that; we just won’t go. Then just yesterday, I found out that Pisa is only an hour away from Florence by train. That made the trip quite viable, and next thing you know, we’re off to Pisa!
Pisa is a tiny city. People say that there’s not much to do, and they’re absolutely right… the Leaning Tower is the only attraction they have. But if you walk to the tower instead of taking the bus, and make some stops in the interesting stores along the way, you can last maybe three hours there.
We found a lot of fun in one of the stores that sold chocolate things, and it’s here where I got a taste of chocolate beer. It’s not sweet, but there’s a very heavy cocoa-flavoured aftertaste.
The Leaning Tower is tiny! It’s nowhere near comparable to most of the other monuments you see in Rome. When we got there, we saw a few people at the top of the tower. I had previously heard that they closed it off to visitors, but maybe they’ve repaired it enough to allow people on the tower again.
That evening after we got back to Florence, we went for a night walk. It was quite a different experience – seeing the empty markets and serene river. There were tons of people out, but not in a rowdy way… just lots of tourists and romantic couples out to enjoy the view. Lots of stores were closed, but there were also a lot of stores (mostly cafes and gelato) still open. It gave the area a very nice atmosphere.
Along the bridge are a bunch of stores, still very much like in medieval times. It is very much the reason why Ponte Vecchio is famous, after all.
In the middle of Ponte Vecchio, we stumbled upon two musicians doing a small streetside gig with a decent crowd. We joined in for a good half an hour or so. I really enjoyed their music!
With our last day in the city of Florence, we only had one place in our itinerary – Piazzale Michelangelo. It’s a lookout point in the southeastern part of Florence, and it’s not too high up, but high enough for you to get a very nice view of the city.
It’s also here where I noticed that Florence has a wall surrounding its city. I’m sure most ancient cities are well-fortified, but you don’t always get to see it!
Before I left Florence, I was dying to try the ice cream from Lindt. No regrets – their dark chocolate is amazing!
I guess that’s it… we really are at our last stop. Time to eat as much as possible before I go back to my strict workout diet at home!