Slow travel. Well, it depends on the definition of course! With a maximum speed of about 250km/h we reach Florence about one hour and a half from Rome. We won’t bore you with our frustrations about the public transport in Rome. We find our next home for the night quite easily and after leaving our bags, we go into town.
We don’t have that much time, to be exact: about 24 hours … So we definitely want to see the highlights, but in the end, we get to see everything we had on our list. Florence is not that big, and everything is reachable on foot. Yes, we walked everything!
The Central Market is our first stop. We find this by chance, and were very surprised to find a market and a food stall hall! The choices are abundant and after a quick lunch we go on. We’ll be back here for dinner! We pass the Medici Chapels (a very important family in 15th Century Florence, with a lot of political and cultural influence) and finally get to the Dome of Florence. There are three buildings at the Piazza del Duomo, all with the typical black and white patterns which are even more beautiful in the sunshine. It is possible to go up the Dome (Santa Maria del Fiore) and the Bell Tower (Campanile Baptisterium), but we are not willing to pay €15 each, however this gives access to both the towers and the Battistero. We decide to have a look inside the Basilica instead. After covering up we can go in (for free) but the outside is far more beautiful! Via Piazza Signora we pursue our route. We are very surprised to find the giant turtle by Jan Fabre (a world famous Belgian artist) in front of the Palazzo Vecchio! The Santa Croce Cathedral is the next stop, the last resting place of – amongst others – Machiavelli and Galileo. Unfortunately, FLorentians still have a very good merchant eye, and ask €7 entrance fee per person. We admire the outside of the church and the piazza and to the shores of the River Arno. It appears you cannot enter the national library without being a member, what a shame! Instead we have a delicious icecream (Vivaldi) at the other side of the river, and enjoy the quiet and more authentic character of this quarter. To our surprise we find the work shop of the artist who turns traffic signs into pieces of art and joy.
Along the rose garden we walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo and enjoy the wonderful view over Florence beneath us. After taking in the roofs of the city, we head back down. Along the Uffizi (rewarded art gallery with works of Michelangelo, da Vinci and Botticelli) and the Ponte Vecchio (centuries old trading place, till today – but be aware of tourist traps), we have dinner at the Central Market and go back to our hotel. Resting our feet with a view at the Russian Orthodox Church, we can say we have seen quite a lot of Florence already!
The next day we find the Galleria dell’Accademia: Michelangelo’s David is the reason why the queue goes all the way to the end of the street. Besides, the entrance costs €12,5 per person … We go to yet another basilica: Santa Maria Novella, close to the train station. We walk along the Fortezza da Basso and after a quick lunch we pick up our bags.
Florence was nice. Although we didn’t have that much time, we found it a pleasant city. If you don’t go inside all the musea (there are a lot!) one day is actually enough to see most of it (we only missed the Boboli gardens) without breaking your wallet.
#firenze #360view #travel #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Pisa is our next destination, by train only 50 minutes away. A big advantage renting with AirBnB (design loft in Pisa city centre) is the personal contact with the owners of the place you’re about to stay. We arranged a pick-up from the train station, and within 5 minutes we are settled. We are advised to be careful for the many bikers, since Pisa is a university city. Well … We were not impressed 🙂 We are Ghentians after all, used to quite a bit of bikes, and compared to Ghent … Sorry Pisa, you lose big time! But it is a very lovely city! It may seem a bit strange, but we spent more time here than in Florence. We start this city recon at the fortress, or rather, the few remains of it. Along the riverside (or Lungarni) we walk towards the city center (from our AirBnB about 2km) and after dinner we finally get to see the wall decorated by Keith Haring: Tuttomondo, the largest of his works in Europe. Don’t be fooled by the many other street art pieces, they are from an artist named .K. We wander through the streets and end up at the little church by the water (Church of Santa Maria della Spina). It dates back from the year 1230! It is a truly beautiful building! The Blue Palace is just a little bit further, but honestly: it is just a house painted in blue.
On day two in Pisa we visit the Tower of towers. And although there is much more to see in Pisa than just the Leaning Tower, it is quite fascinating! The Piazza dei Miracoli also houses the Baptisterium, the Monasterium and the Basilica, all in the same architectural style.
And again, the sunshine makes the buildings even look more pretty than they already are … Through a gate you can also see the Campo Santo (cemetery) where important people used to be buried. We didn’t climb the Leaning Tower, € 18 per person is just crazy … By lunch time we leave the place and walk to the oldest university botanical garden in the world. We get in for free (although there is an entrance fee) and enjoy the peaceful surroundings (including the shadow!). Unfortunately we have to escape the garden because of the mosquitoes and allergic reactions to stings of them 🙁 After a light lunch we walk again along the riverside, but towards the outskirts of the inner city. No tourists here to admire a statue of Galileo Galilei and a small park. On our way back, we enjoy a very yummy gelato at Gelateria de Coltelli. Another nice place to go is the Piazza dei Cavalieri, where you can find some of the university buildings. What a beautiful square!
We enjoyed Pisa a lot, small but enough to see and do and relax at the same time. We’ll be back at the end of our trip!
Pisa #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA