Thinking about our stroll last night, the thing that stands out is how happy everyone is: couples kissing on the corner (more like necking actually), friends having a vape or a gelato while sitting on one of the bridge walls, moms holding the baby while dads carry the stroller up the stone steps, couples holding hands while window shopping. We have seen that in many places where you would expect big crowds, the lines are not so long and it is not wall-to-wall people. The benefit of September.

We started the day with coffee then headed out on our first planned walk. We have walked 10,000 to 18,000 steps a day but break it up a few times which helps Linda’s low back and Dave’s feet. We cross the energetic Ponte Vecchio bridge several times a day and there is so much to see we hardly think about what hurts!

Tower at Pointe Vecchio Bridge
Entering the Pointe Vecchio Bridge from the Oltrarno

We .walked though the city from the Oltrarno to the Mercato Centrale. Along the way we visited from the outside Palazzo Vecchio, Florence Cathedral (including the Baptistery and Dome). The enormity of the cathedral is breathtaking.

Street vendor near Palazzo Vecchio
Carriage ride in front of Palazzo Vecchio
Reproduction of the Statue of David outside the Palazzo Vecchio (sorry about the fake, but we’ve already seen the real one and don’t feel like fighting the crowd)
Hercules and Cacus
Loggia dei Lanzi
David and Hercules & Cacua in front of Palazzo Vecchio
Donatello’s statue Judith and Holofernes
Fountain of Neptune
Palazzo Vecchio
Lorenzo Ghiberti’s St. John the Baptist at Or San Michele
Florence Cathedral
Giotto’s Bell Tower at Florence Cathedral
As we approach this part of the Florence Cathedral, we understood why the scaffolding around the cathedral existed. Cleaning the walls must be an ongoing effort.
Baptistery of San Giovanni
Florence Cathedral
Florence Cathedral
Detailed view of above the doors of the cathedral
Florence Cathedral

In the Mercado Centrale (large indoor city market), we took tons of photos and then took Matt & Carlee’s suggestion for a roast beef sandwich at Nerbone which did not disappoint! We have found the prices here very reasonable whether for dining or grocery or treasures…makes Linda wish she’d brought an extra suitcase. Dave, on the other hand…  😉 

Cutting bread for plates at Nerbone
Making our roast beef panino
Roast beef panino from Nerbone
Roast beef panino
Walking though the Mercato Centrale
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – cheese
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – cheese and meats
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – fresh produce
An amazing dry pasta selection
Very colorful pastas
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – guinea fowl
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – stuffed guinea fowl
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – salted cod
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – fresh produce
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – olives (we got 100gr of the green olives)
Our big olive transaction
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – various seafood (shrimps, octopus, and perch
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – fresh produce
Walking though the Mercato Centrale – butcher shop (check out the Bistecca Steaks in the top right)

On our 20-minute walk back to the apartment, Linda suggested gelato (Dave says this is a recurring theme) – in that 20 minute walk, we must have passed a dozen gelaterias. Linda chose pineapple and coconut; Dave had caramel and Oreo creme. Upon returning to the apartment, the elevator was being worked on – the man said 5 minutes – so we walked back out to the street rather than walk the 5 flights! It was a smart decision because the man was true to his word. Just so you know, we’ve counted the steps going down and there ninety-five of them. Walking up would not have been fun.

When our afternoon break ended, we started back out to explore the city.

Our first stop this evening was Basilica di Santa Trinita. This is a beautiful church with twenty separate chapels (though Linda only counted eighteen).

On top of the Column of Justice
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Altar and side altar in Santa Trinita
Altar in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Stanta Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Ceiling in Santa Trinita
Chapel in Santa Trinita
Fresco at Santa Trinita that is deteriorating
Chapel in Santa Trinita

After some time at Santa Trinita, we headed back to the Oltrarno.

Buildings in the Oltrarno
View into central Florence from the Oltroarno
View into central Florence from the Oltroarno

Here, our first stop was at Chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmine. This is a huge church from the outside, but has nothing special from a “wow factor” on the outside. The inside, however, very nice. There was a worship service going on, so we stayed in the back of the sanctuary to take pictures.

Sanctuary of Chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmine
Altar in Chiesa di Santa Maria del Carmine

From there we continued to Bascilica di Santo Spirito. We have just the one picture as they were closing up and the woman in charge of closing made it very clear that we were to get out. Maybe Dave can get back there tomorrow or Wednesday morning.

Santo Spirito

From there we made our way to Pitti Palace and took in the size of the building. The palace was built in 1458 and was purchased by the Medici family in 1549. It also housed Napoleon. It currently houses multiple museums.

Pitti Palace
Pitti Palace
Pitti Palace

We then stopped for dinner at a restaurant near our apartment. The food was fine, but we were once again disappointed that spaghetti pomodoro was cooked tomatoes, not fresh tomatoes. Linda had a new drink for us, a Hugo Spritz. It is made from elderflower liqueur, instead of Aperol.

Aperol Spritz and Hugo Spritz
Spaghetti Carbonara
Spaghetti Pomodoro

We then went back to the apartment to drop off a couple of tops Linda bought and then turned around to go have a cocktail at a place we passed early in our journey. The drinks did not disappoint. Linda had a drink called the Jungle Bird; while Dave had a Last Word. Both were excellent.

Jungle Bird and Last Word

It was time to head home and get to bed.

No more Bologna, time for Bisteca

We said arrivederci to Bologna this morning.  It was a bittersweet farewell in that we really enjoyed our time there, but it is time to move on.

Time to get on the train, say arrivederci to Bologna, and buon giorno to Florence

The train ride to Florence was less than spectacular.  We spent almost all the time in tunnels.  We forgot there were hills/mountain as you head into Tuscany.

When we arrived in Florence, we had already decided to take a taxi to our Airbnb (which we were able check into early).  Well, there was a long line waiting for taxis at the train station, but things moved along quite well.  Once in the taxi, Dave decided quickly that this was not a city in which he any interest to drive.  Between crazy, winding streets and pedestrians, he probably would still be driving now.

We checked into the Airbnb at about 12:45. It is a nice place.  Significantly small than the place we left in Bologna, but it will work out just fine.  It gives new meaning to an open floor plan concept.  Yes, the entry, dining room, living room, and bedroom are all one space.

View from entry
Dining, living, and bedroom

A quick disclaimer … the next section of today’s blog is rated PG-13.

After settling in at the apartment, we headed out for our reservation at the Uffizi Gallery.  We got there a little late, but it wasn’t an issue.  Below are some of the pictures we took during our 2-1/2 hours stroll through the gallery.  Dave questions whether they just wore less clothing in the time these pictures were painted and sculptures were sculpted or whether artists just like nude models.

Madonna and Child
Battle of San Romana by Paolo Uccello
Madonna and Child with St. John the Baptist, St. Mary Magdelen, St. Cosmas, St. Damian, St., St. Francis, and St. Catherine of Alexandria by Botticelli
Spring by Botticelli
Madonna of the Rose Garden by Botticelli
The Birth of Venus by Botticelli
Coronation of The Virgin with Angels by Botticelli
Items in Tribuna room at the Uffizi Gallery
The Tribuna at the Uffizi
Items in the Tribuna at the Uffizi Gallery (item from Medici collection)
The Tribuna at the Uffizi
Madonna and Child by Pellegrino di Mariano
St. Mary Magdalene, the Virgin Mary, and St. John the evangelist mourning the dead of Christ
Madonna and Child with St. Peter and St. Mariana by Pietro di Niccolo; Duia
Madonna and Child by Cima da Conegliano (it was Linda’s favorite of the day)
Crucifiction by Marco Palmezzano
Holy Family with young St. John the Baptist by Niccolo’ Pisano
Ceiling in hallway of Uffizi Gallery
Adoration of the Magi by Ghirlandrio
Annunciation by Leonardo DiVinci
Our Lady of Sorrows by Hans Memling
Holy Family with young St. John the Baptist by Michelangelo
Statue of Cupid
Expulsion from Paradise by Pontormo (we included this only because of the severity of the piece)
Rabbi by Rembrandt
Portrait of a Young Man by Rembrandt

In addition to the beautiful works of are, the Uffizi Gallery also offered a couple of vantage points for nice views of the city.

View from Uffizi Gallery
View up the Arno River from the Uffizi Gallery (Pointe Vecchio Bridge is first bridge)

We then stopped to have gelato.  Linda had pistachio and wild berry yogurt.  Dave had Stracciatella (sweet cream chocolate chip) and Stracciatella con caffe (chocolate chip with coffee).  All were delicious.  We continued our walk home and stopped at a grocery store in the neighborhood.  We bought a liter of milk, two 1-1/2 liters of water, and a small can of hair lacquer for Linda.  In total it cost €2.85 with the lacquer being the big cost at €1.22.  The water was €0.24.  We also saw that Aperol cost less than €14.00 for a 750ml bottle.

Linda enjoying her gelato

We then took a breather until it was time to head to dinner at 19:30.

We had a nice walk along the river on the way to dinner and saw a beautiful sunset.

Window flowers near apartment
Evening gondola ride on the Arno River
Sunset along the Arno River (we loved all the people on the bridge)
Okay, it didn’t look like this, but it was fun to take this photo
Sunset along the Arno River
Gondolas on Arno River

Then we had a magnificent dinner at Osteria di Giovanni.  It was the most expensive so far, but we had massive amounts of animal protein (no soy here). The meal consisted of a meat/cheese plate, Bistecca steak (at least 1.2 Kg) , lemon sorbet, biscotti, creme brulee, and one espresso. We were definitely full. Glad all we had earlier in the day was gelato and a little leftover prosciutto.

Fried bread
Oops, the food was so tempting we forgot to take a picture before we started eating. The antipasto had two types of prosiutto, two types of salami, sheep cheese, crostini with liver pate, and tomato bruschetta
Roasted potatoes and Steak Bistecca
Lemon sorbet and biscotti
Creme brulee

We then walked home along the river and up near Pitti Palace (we’ll see it in the light tomorrow). After that meal, walking as much as we could was critical.  Quite a bit of walking tomorrow.  Starting “early” in the city center and then another walk by us in the Oltrarno in the afternoon.  Stay tuned.

Nearly full moon over the Arno River