An enjoyable first day in Florence (or Firenze, as it’s known in Italian). Flew in this morning getting to Italy around midday.
It’s hot. Was 34c just after midday with full sun. I was in Rome 11 months ago and remember just how hot it was then, 35c+. This part of Europe gets really hot temperatures even this early in the summer.
The hotel is very pleasant. We ended up being upgraded to a superior room as they’d originally put us in a double and we’d booked a twin. Really spacious, lovely view of a piazza. The free wi-fi is OK but a bit flaky and while it downloads fast enough, it has really crappy upload speeds which is why I won’t bother trying to upload photos here though I took quite a lot today.
Painless journey both to Gatwick (direct Thameslink from Blackfriars) and then the flight itself to Florence which is about 1 hour 45 mins.
Taxi from the small airport into the centre of the city. The hotel is in the old part, close to the city centre.
Lunch was a toasted cheese & parma ham sandwich and a few crisps in a little family run cafe, then a large gelato (ice cream) which was very good.
Spent a couple of hours around the duomo (cathedral) which is huge and dates back to the 13th century. Not a lot to see on the inside but we went up the campanile (tower) – there is no lift so it’s quite a long old slog in this hot weather. Great views of Florence and the rolling Tuscan hills in the background.
Did a bit of shopping in the old streets lined with markets. Bought some silk ties as gifts for a couple of people back home. Back to the hotel for a chill out then out for dinner. We ate at an osteria recommended by someone back home and also, funnily enough, by the hotel. Was good. Ate al fresco (sooo warm, mid/high twenties even in the evening), gnocchi for first course and then a to-die-for sirloin steak with caponata and roasted garlic potatoes on the side. Drinking the house wine which was wonderful. Why couldn’t house wine in the UK taste like it does here – and cost what it does here (i.e. peanuts)?
The fact that sterling has lost nearly 30% of its value against the euro in the last 12 months means that all of continental Europe (that’s in the euro zone) is a lot more expensive than it used to be, which is a bit tough. But you take it on the chin!
Looking forward to bed. Starting on the museums and art galleries tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing David, too.