Florence Days 10 and 11

“Oh to be in Florence now that October’s here”
With apologies to Robert Browning
(Home Thoughts From Abroad)


I have had without any doubt, the most magical day here in Florence.  It started as usual, call from NZ, tepid shower followed by macchiato and brioche at my favourite local pasticerria, I had no real plans for the day so I jumped on a bus and went into town.  I walked through the station and checked out trains to Sienna.  They leave at ten minutes past the hour every hour.  So then I checked out how to buy a ticket from the automatic machines and so I am all set for when I decide to go there.

Then ambling out of the station I saw a big red double-decker City Sightseeing bus.  For just 20 Euros you can have a day sightseeing, jumping on and off as many times as you like.  This seemed like a good idea and so I bought a ticket and hopped on.  There is a constant commentary about the tour giving you advice on which stops to get off to see particular attractions.

Piazza Michelangelo

I stayed on until we reached Piazzale Michelangelo.  I was totally amazed/blown away/awe-struck at the sight that confronted me.  Spread out before me was Florence and from this high vantage point it all looked like Lilliput but clearly defined, and with the Tuscan countryside spreading out behind it like a theatrical backdrop.

Il DuomoDistant viewFlorence3

Of course I took scads of photos to bore everyone with when I eventually get home; but oh, it was a truly wondrous sight.


Lunch today was taken at a table overlooking the Duomo and all of Florence.  I ordered a Pizza e funghi (mushroom pizza) e acqua frizzante (sparkling water).  And as I sat in the sunshine looking at that view I experienced one of those rare moments of pure joy, knowing I was exactly where I was meant to be at that particular moment in time. My pizza and water tasted like manna from heaven  because of that.


Signora enjoying wine and nibbles in the sunshine

Sitting there in the sunshine soaking up the sights of this most magical city and the sounds of the many different tongues, it wouldn’t be too fanciful to say that I was drunk with life without ever having had a glass of wine.

Road to the Forte

After a time I tore myself away from this place that will from now on be my favourite place in Florence and got on the bus.  But this was not the tourist bus but a regular one.  I got off at the stop for Forte Belvedere.  There was a sign to walk to the Forte so I set off.  This led me down a narrow street lined on each side with large houses protected behind high gates.  The road was hardly wide enough for a car to pass me without hitting me.  So I walked and walked in the hot sunshine but nobody told me that the Forte was closed while they dismantled an exhibition.  “L’Anima e la Materia/Soul and Matter” is the largest exhibition ever organised in Italy for the Chinese artist Zhang Huan. The exhibition closed on the 13 October.  So I walked on and found the Bardini Mansion and Gardens.

Florence Day 10 064

Villa Bardini Gardens

Villa Bardini Gardens

View from the terrace Villa Bardini

View from the terrace Villa Bardini

There as an exhibition “The Renaissance from Florence to Paris and back” described as “Treasures of the Jacuemart-Andre Museum return home.  The treasures were housed in three rooms of this palatial  villa and included works by Botticelli, Donatello, Mantegna and Paolo Uccello.  How lucky was I to be here in Florence at this time.  The exhibition closes at the end of the year.

Monopoly Italian style

Monopoly Italian style

When I peeped into another room I saw this game of Monopoly all set up and ready to go.

From there I wandered into the Barboli Gardens but I must say that after the splendours of the Bardini, the gardens left me feeling rather flat.  And then the battery ran out in the camera.  I had forgotten to recharge it the night before.  So no more pictures today.

I left the Gardens and hopped onto yet another bus.  I must say that I am getting very confident about bus travel here in Florence.  When I got off the bus I saw that the sightseeing bus was pulling to a stop and as I hadn’t gone all the way around I thought I would jump on it.   And this was a bonus.  I hadn’t realised that there were three different routes the buses took and I was on the one that went through Florence and up to the little hillside village of Fiesole.

Fiesle ampitheatre

via Wikipedia

This charming little village overlooking Florence predates Florence by some eight centuries; it was an Etruscan city well before the Romans colonised the city. In the 19th century it was a favourite haunt of many Upper Class English people including the poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

We stopped only for 15 minutes so no time to inspect the Roman Ampitheatre or the Cathedral which we are told, has its own dome.  Really will try to get back there again before I leave.

And so once again being deposited at the station, I found my weary way back to the apartment at the end of a lovely day – one that will stay with me for many years I am sure.

And apologies, I was so tired after being out for 8 hours that I typed half this blog, fell asleep and had to finish it today.


Day 11

After all the excitement of yesterday I decided to have a quiet day today.

My day started with a long Skype conversation – don’t you just love Skype and then I had my usual tepid shower.

I gave up battling with the darned washing machine.  I don’t know how that woman made it work but I can’t, so the washing was done by hand and is drying on a drying stand.

I can’t resist going into the centre of town and so I did so and wandered around the streets that are becoming so familiar to me now.  I did some people watching and listening to.  How fascinating when one really can’t understand what is being said, but often from the inflections and the hand movements one can make a pretty good guess.

Not so many people queuing to get into the Dome

Not so many people queuing to get into the Dome of the Duomo

Something that I became aware of early in my stay was the attention paid to window displays and the interior of some shops

Beautifully dressed window

inside shop

Shop interior

By this time it was around 3 pm so lunch was called for.  I found a little restaurant in one of the streets leading from the Piazza Duomo called Buca Niccolini.  Here I ordered Gnocchi ai quartro formaggi (gnocchi with four cheeses)  The gnocchi which my hostess assured me was “Fatta en cassa” or homemade, was fabulous.

Gnocchi ith four cheeses

I left the restaurant t0 make my way to the stazzione when I saw this

Bride and groomSuch a beautiful young couple with their whole lives in front of them.  I wished them “Una vita felice e auguri” a happy life and best wishes even though it was not said out loud.

So that rounded off another day in this wonderful city.

“In the end, only three things matter:
how much you loved,
how gently you lived,
and how gracefully you let go
of things not meant for you.”


25 responses to “Florence Days 10 and 11

  1. It has just struck me – between the eyes! – that a relatively able-bodied middle-aged woman can benefit so much more from this kind of holiday that her younger counterpart. You are able to wander about as you like, talking to people if you want to, lunching and dining alone, with no over-eager men pinching your bottom or trying to chat you up! How blessed you are, Judith, to be doing this NOW!

    • Thanks Cat but this woman is well past middle age – 75 – so no danger of those Italian men pnchng my bottom. Yes there is a lovely sense of freedom in doing what I am doing and I am enjoying it so much.

      • Judith, I use the term ‘middle-aged’ very loosely! As long as my mother is still alive, I consider her elderly and me middle-aged, even though I’m also now over 70! As long as you can get up and down those hills under your own steam, you are still only middle-aged! Here’s to 120!

  2. hello!Thanks for the link! Hope that you enjoy Florence, i love this city so much! Eh, eh..i like the part when you don’t understand completely the Language, but you can imagine what people are saying.. Do you love the pasta “fatta in casa” (handmade)?In italy there are so many quality of pasta 🙂 hope you enjoy the holiday! Cristina

    • Thanks Crstina I am so enjoying this time in Florence, discovering the city and talking with some of it’s inhabitants. And Ilove the fatta in casa pasta!

  3. Goodness, this trip sounds glorious! The day-long bus tour had to have been wonderful. We did something similar when we first arrived in Cuenca. It was delightful. Plus, it sounds like you are becoming a pro at busses–period! I am SOOOOOOOO enjoying these posts!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • H Kathy. Every day brings something new to enjoy here in this city. And yesterday was the day to beat all days.. Hugs to yo and Sara. Just wish I had your abilities with the camera to take advantage of all the wondrous sights.

      • I think your photos are fabulous! You are doing brilliantly, if you ask me! Thanks for the hugs. Will pass them along to Sara as well, and send some extras back your way!

  4. Such fantastic photographs show the area off so beautifully. I’m glad you’re having such a great time.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • Oh i am enjoying taking my time to get to know this city, although perhaps a lifetime wold be necessary to really get to know it.
      Huge hugs back to you David. I hope life is getting easier for you without Jula.

  5. Your magical two days have reached all the way to Virginia! How wonderful it must feel to see and do all those things and to drink it all in at leisure.

  6. Love your photos and the Buddha quote . . . that gnocchi ai quartro formaggi (gnocchi with four cheeses) would FABULOUS!

    • Thanks again Nancy. It was fabulous and I don’t know why Italian women are not all fat with all the cheese and cream they consume (or shold I say I am consuming?)

      • It’s because they burn off so many calories wrestling with the washing machines . . . before giving up and hanging the laundry on the line!

        And they walk and explore and don’t sit inside watching TV in the middle of the day.

        Last, they burn calories by running away from men who are trying to pinch their bottoms. :mrgreen:

  7. Oh how I wish I was there with you now its all so lovely the photos and your description lucky you. I love the qoute from the Buddha I am gracefully letting go of things not meant for me. Even if it hurts and the tears are there but it wont kill me this time next year who knows where I shall be in my life. All for the best..love you xx

    • I am really glad you feel that way. And you know sometimes tears are necessary to wash away the hurt and allow us to move on.
      I wish you were here to share all these wonderful adventures and to make memories with me. Love you too. XX

  8. A wonderful 2 days. Those tourist buses that let you get on and off anytime are a great way to see the city. We did the same thing in Barcelona. I can just tell how much you are enjoying this time. Hugs from Canada. XO

  9. You got some great views! You’ll know where all the best spots are when your sister arrives.

  10. Absolutely magical! And that quote at the end is something I need to memorize. I’m good with the first two parts, but the last thing is a kicker!

  11. Two more wonderful days of wonderful memories. Lovely photos, looking forward to even more when you get home. I’ve been dropping hints on how lovely Florence looks to Hubby … who knows, it might work.

  12. Pingback: A Little Buddha Told Me | Spirit Lights The Way

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