In fact, I have been to Florence 6 years ago, back then in 2012, although that was part of a day tour so it is more of a little touch and go in Florence. I was captivated by the Duomo and more so by the Arno River, with the Ponte Vecchio across it. The sight is one that I would love to lay eyes once again. Furthermore, on the ending phase of my whirlwind trip in Europe, the fantastic The Mall outlet will be nice for some shopping. I had 4 main to do list in Florence, The Duomo, Arno River, Central Market and Piazzale Michelangelo! In fact there is something very funny on my fate with Florence. A lot of my thoughts and interest begin back then in 2003 after watching a Hong Kong TVB Drama about pilots, Triumph In The Skies. With many of the filming sites located in Florence, it sure sparkes my interest in seeing them in person.
The river side of the Arno that the actors played on. The little scene where they watch the sunset right at Piazzale Michelangelo. I am glad that I am finally back to spend some time in Florence. Almost everyday, I start my day at a espresso bar, like a local, a cup of joe right before anything else. I would love to have this lifestyle all day er day.
Coming in from Cinque Terre in the morning, I arrived in Florence Santa Maria Novella Station. After a couple of touring around small towns and cities, it is sure different to be in a bustling crowded city! Florence is a popular destination so expect it to be crowded and busy. It is an important stop on the rail lines as well. The station is also a common hotbed for pickpockets so keep that in mind when you are here. The station is pretty okay and well built, with all the necessary stuff that you might need in a train station. The SMN is located near the city centre, in fact it is within walking distance. I will definitely recommend walking to your accomodation in the city since the buses are confusing and the traffic is pretty bad around the station. Check out the Airbnb that I stay in Florence in one of my earlier post.
Florence is a walkable city, it is pretty compact and good for walking. You could in fact cross the town in about 30 mins to an hour. I was famished after travelling for the morning and was off to find some food after checking in at my Airbnb. Everywhere was central from my place, which is something that I really love. While exploring to find some nice food. I pass by the Central Market which is something that have always on my list. Italian cuisine is famed worldwide and where else is better to know about the roots than the Central Market.
The Central Market or Mercato Centrale is one of the oldest in the country, with its roots in the 19th Century. Although it used to be in another location previously. On the ground floor of the market are all the traders stalls, you can find butcher, fishmongers, vegetables and fruits. There are also stalls selling local products and spices. Some of them are also espresso bars and cooked food stalls. Almost everything that was sold in the market is from the local region. While on the second level you can find a fancy food court that sells almost everything, including local cuisine.
You can check out my previous post on my Market Tour and Cooking Lesson where I have shared more on Mercato Centrale.
I had my lunch here at the Mercato Centrale at Nerbone, which is a local favourite. I had some chicken skewers and risotto which is divine. You could see that it is recommended simply by the crowd that forms. On another day I had the pork sandwich which was the best food I ever had in Florence.
A typical itinerary of Florence of course takes you across the city, right near the Arno River where you can find most of the famous attractions in town. The Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery and of course the Arno River and Ponte Vecchio. I would say that the Duomo is an extremely delicate piece of art, the cravings and details are so impressive. It is pretty impressive as well. Although the exterior is far more worthwhile than the interior.
The Uffizi Gallery is more for the niche touristy that loves museum and art piece. Since I did not know how to appreciate this particular field of lifestyle, I shall not go in depth on it. The Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and around it you can find most of the stuff in town. From the Michelangelo David as well as the as the gallery of statue where medusa is present. Here is also a popular meeting point for the locals. The nearby streets contains most of the famous brands that you can find. However for shopping, your best bet is The Mall factory outlet that is just located 30 mins from town.
For the most romantic scene that you want to have in Florence, be it with your love one or just a loner like me, hopping for some instagrammable photos, head to the Arno River which is just a stone throw away from the Piazza della Signoria. The Arno River cutting by the city and the Ponte Vecchio over it. It is a lovely sight. It is one that you not only have to capture with your lens but also gaze lovingly into it!
The Ponte Vecchio is a medieval stone bridge that is built in the 14th century. Besides not only adding to the landscape with its colors and facade, the bridge is also host to a number of stores. Most of them being fancy ones selling watches. Most of the traffic here are tourists trying to have a step in this history.
A nice fact on the bridge. It is the only bridge that was not destroyed in World War II during the conflict. Thankfully it survived humanity if not we will also not be treated to this gorgeous sight today! The Ponte Vecchio also provides another angle of the city when you are on it!
Last but not least, the one place that I really love in Florence got to be Piazzale Michelangelo, I always love a view. Especially one that is as panoramic as the one you get here at Piazzale Michelangelo. It is located on a hill that is opposite the other side of the Arno. So that requires a little of walking. Nothing to far and perfectly walkable. Although the height is a little steep. Although you get really good views in return. It is definitely worth it.
Something that I really love about the view from Piazzale Michelangelo is the angle and the height. It is not too high that everything just turns tiny and yet you get a good complete view of the whole city. Everything important and impressive is within your arch. So that is impressive. The Duomo, the Arno, the Ponte Vecchio, everything is lovely. It is the perfect postcard picture. While everywhere spew romance in this city, here it is unique. You get the amazing view and you also get lovely music from the performers that crowd this area. I was here in the late afternoon and everything is lovely!
While I did not have clear skies, the scene is still great. It totally brings me back to the times where I watch the HK Drama. Thinking of it now, I felt the rush to watch the show all over again. I surely enjoyed my stroll here while making my way slowly back to the city centre.
That pretty sums up my stay in Florence this time around. I can’t wait to be back for more shopping, the pork bun from Nerbone at Central Market and definitely sitting over the ledge, holding my love one, with a glass of prosecco at Piazzale Michelangelo!