Today was quite a change for me, a whole day in one place, and in company. That doesn’t happen very often, either home or away!
I was told some years ago by someone who worked in the travel industry that Saturday was a good day to visit famous places, because it is the day that lots of people set off on, or return from their holiday, and those who are already in a place tend to go to events. It’s odd logic but came to mind as we prepared to look around one of the most famous places in the world on a summer Saturday.
We started by crossing the bridge to the far side of the Arno. The first pictures I took were back to where we were staying – the large brown door on the left of the first picture was the entrance to our building (though our windows did not front onto the river.) It was warm enough that we walked on the shaded side of the street, but I kept crossing the road to get shots of the city and the bridges.
We continued along the south bank of the river as far as the Ponte Vecchio. The bridge itself is a very odd thing, being enclosed on both sides you don’t get a sense of being over the water except in a very small section in the middle, which is open on both sides. The shops on the bridge are almost all very expensive jewellers.
From here it is a short walk to the Piazza della Signoria. The Palazzo Vecchio, with its replica of Michelangelo’s David in front dominates the square, but I also love the nearby Loggia dei Lanzi, with its sculptures. The Loggia was quite busy and entrance was being restricted, so we didn’t go in. Instead we continued through the Piazzale degli Uffizi and headed away from the centre to find somewhere for lunch.
After lunch we walked back through the Piazza della Signoria and took a look inside the Palazzo. The first section is open to non-ticket holders and is quite stunning. It was too dark to take good pictures of the wall paintings, which are in any case quite faded, but we identified a number of them as being of places in Austria.
Crossing the piazza we went to look for Porcellino. The boar is a draw for tourists, some of whom put a coin in its mouth and let it fall through into a grating for luck. Others simply rub it’s snout. Again this is a replica, and understandably given the queue of people who all wanted to touch it.
We crossed the river again and took quite a long loop around the streets on the south bank. There was lots to see. I enjoyed the false windows on several buildings. Glimpses back to the centre could be seen down several of the back streets. We ended up in the square in front of the Palazzo Pitti, where we stopped for a while.
By now we were starting to think about dinner. We crossed the Ponte Vecchio once more and decided to head away from the centre, in a direction we’d not been before, north of the centre. There is interest wherever you look in this city. I Ioved the view inside this cobblers shop, which countless patterns with names of customers on them. The Basilica di San Lorenzo is an amazing structure, I loved the varied rooflines, layered on top of each other.
Nearby we paused when we heard the sound of music. High up a trumpet was being played out of an open window. Not loudly, and some people didn’t even notice it, but we stopped and listened for a few minutes.
We spotted a suitable place for dinner nearby. It looked quite nice and on a quick glance the menus was not overly expensive, and they had a table free outside. What none of us was expecting was just how good it would be. I had a pasta dish with stewed beef and black pepper, which simply delicious. Everything else we ordered was absolutely spot on, a meal to live long in the memory.
I looked them up afterwards, Trattoria lo Stracotto. They’re a family run restaurant and I can’t recommend them highly enough.