Up early once again to visit Florence today. And again I woke up before the alarm went off. Was out the door and walked to the train station. A very quiet Sunday morning in Balogna. My plan was to walk around Florence and explore the city on my own.
Even though I had a little breakfast before leaving (coffee, a slice of brown bread, cereal, and an apple), I was still a little hungry. Thankfully there is a McDonald’s at the Florence train station. While waiting in line I noticed that the person taking our orders was a bit slow, unorganized, confused, and forgetful. I could have changed lines but stayed where I was. When it was my turn I spoke slowly, clearly, and used all of the Italian words that I knew – all with a big smile. She responded back well and I had my order in a few minutes. I was so proud of myself, then after I sat down, noticed she gave me a sausage McMuffin instead of a bacon McMuffin. Alas…
After my second breakfast, I walked toward the Cathedral. I only saw one side of it yesterday and wanted to see more. Also, I didn’t get the name of one of the building next to the Cathedral. (The Baptistery) I sat down and admired the Cathedral while I collected my thoughts. It was discouraging that all of the Florence attractions charge a hefty price for admissions. As I walked around the Cathedral I saw something that caught my eye. Segway Tours!
The Florence Baptistery
The Segway office was not busy when I walked in. I asked the guy behind the desk (Ahmed) when the next tour was scheduled. I learned there wasn’t one. He asked that at least two people are in a tour group then offered me a personal tour for a reduced rate. Perfect! We agreed on the price and he let me practice on a Segway in the nearby parking area. He closed shop and off we went.
Ahmed took me around the Cathedral, the Baptistery, and the Medici Chapel which I had already walked around so our visit was short. Then rode over to the Basilica di Santa Croce, which is the principal Franciscan church in Florence, Italy.
Florence Cathedral and Bell Tower
Next was Piazza della Repubblica. It is on this site, is the porticos with the triumphal arch, called the “Arcone“, which was designed by Micheli.
The Church of Santa Maria Novella Architecturally, it is one of the most important Gothic churches in Tuscany.
Church of Santa Croce (Holy Cross)
Sculpture on the Santa Croce Piazza
I knew it was going to be busy in Florence, this being a Sunday. Managed to not hit any fellow tourists as I guided my Segway through the crowds.
Saw a few other sites and then we headed up the hill to the Piazza Michelangelo, which is on a hill on the south bank of the Arno River, just east of the center of Florence, and offers amazing views of the city. On the way up the hill it started to rain. It was okay for me, but Ahmed was getting soaking wet. He asked about a poncho for him from the vendors who had stands in the Piazza, but no luck. Fortunately, the rain let up and after taking a few pictures of the city we continued our tour.
Ahmed’s Improved Rain Helmet
We stopped next on one of the bridges that span the Arno River. I took a picture of Florence’s famous Ponte Vecchio (“Old Bridge”) that also spans the Arno. Our last stop was Dante’s House Museum.
Dante’s House Museum
After Ahmed and I parted ways, I thought about lunch. Perhaps find a good restaurant nearby. I checked out a few places before settling on Fiaschetteria Nuvoli. Other than McDonald’s, I choose restaurants that met my criteria: Staff, Smell, and Customers. (Staff smiling and welcoming, the smell inviting, and customers should look like they like being there.) I ordered a bowl of bread and bean soup, then some cheese and spinach ravioli (and a small glass of Chianti).
Took my time walking back to the train station. My train wasn’t due to leave until 3:00 and it was only 1:45. This gave me time to edit my pictures, get some cash from an ATM, a cup of coffee, and do some people watching. Nice to be in a train station and just sit there. I took a picture or two of the trains and the long platforms. Some of the trains are very long as can be seen from the picture below – difficult to see the end of the train or the platform. Keep in mind that many of these trains are, by this time of day, completely booked.
Took a taxi back to the flat and almost immediately took a nap. It was starting to rain and nothing makes me sleep like the sound of rain. After my nap I started to plan my visit to Venice tomorrow. I’ll probably visit Venus on Tuesday as well. I’m going to try to sleep in until 7:00 tomorrow. We will see…