Friday, 20 June 2014

Florence: A Scenic Fiat 500 Tour and Scientists || Travel Diaries

Florence (Travel day 44)
June 12 (Day 1)

Shortly after our bus arrived in Florence we went on a walking tour of the city, which is one of the best ways to get to know a new place.

We stopped to admire the beautiful and intricately detailed Duomo di Firenze (Florence Cathedral) which we entered later in our visit. Which is interesting and unique from all angles.

We walked past an outdoor replica of the Michaelangelo's statue of David in Plazzo della Signoria

Then we ventured down through a walkway next to the Uffizi Gallery admiring the monuments of the influential people of history with ties to Florence, such as Galileo and Michaelangelo.

The hallway then opened out onto the river revealing the most photographed and well known bridge in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio. With it's shops and stalls seemingly precariously balanced on either side.
We then went into a small leather tanning studio to learn all about the process of working with leather, all the while getting a sales pitch by one of the workers who was demonstrating their fine craft.
As all good tours should end, we went out for drinks with some of our newly made friends afterwards. We opted for the taped keg of beer with a firework on-top, as you do.

On our walk back to our hostel we came across a wall with money taped to it, not sure what that was all about, but it looked pretty cool.
On our second day in Florence it was raining, so we took the opportunity to do some indoor activities such as look inside the Duomo and admire it's painted dome.

We opted not to walk around the second level (closer to the dome) due to the line being outside and very wet. Poor old sods, I hope it was worth it.

Random sign graffiti 
We later went out for Florentine steaks for dinner and limoncello with friends.

On our final day in Florence, it was a beautiful day, and good thing too, as we took a scenic Fiat 500 tour to various locations through the Tuscan countryside. Chris got to drive us about in an original 1950's Fiat 500 and we made a convoy with our other tour mates who were also in Fiat 500's and a Vespa scooter. We surely turned some heads as we drove through the narrow winding lanes (only big enough to fit a car of this size) on our way to picturesque vineyards, monasteries and scenic lookout locations.
Look at that smile. Chris relished this experience, finding it very novel to drive such an iconic and tiny car in a place so fitting. While also constantly using the wrong hand to reach for the gear stick, and instead hitting the car door.

Our first stop was at the Basilica San Miniato al Monte which is a church sitting a hill overlooking central Florence.

As we entered we could hear the haunting chanting of a robed monk who was swinging around incense behind the partition. This helped to make the feeling within the church all the more impactful.

Our sweet ride

We then took a winding drive over to another picturesque vista to see where a group of cloistered monks live and work.

Then stopping to see and sample some of the vineyard grapes and olive groves we have been passing through.

Our last stop on the tour included shaved meats, cheese platters and wine tasting. Mmmm.
So tiny!

After our tour had finished we made a quick stop to the Galileo Museum and took a quick pic with David.

Quick Summary (TL;DR)

Duration of stay: 3 nights
Was it enough time?: Yes, we ticked everything off our list
Where we stayed: Can't remember sorry

Time of Year: June
Best memories: Taking the Fiat 500 tour, it was a novelty to drive about in such tiny cars but the locations we visited were also brilliant 
Worst memories: Leather tanning demo a.k.a sales pitch
Top tip: Get out of the city into the Tuscan countryside. You won't regret it.

Next time: Eat and drink at more small family run restaurants
Florence in a few words: Influential, Tuscan, Delicious
Recommended?: Yes
Overall experience:8/10, the museums were nothing to boast about but the Fiat tour made up for it.
Next destination: Nice, France

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