Firenze and Fiesole

posted in: Italy Travel | 7

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Thursday April 21

Before 9am I was on the bus to Firenze, an hour and 15 minute ride with views of the Tuscan countryside. Bellissimo! Once I arrived in Florence I made my way to the Duomo and bought a ticket to climb the campanile, which is also known as Giotto’s Bell Tower. It is 276 feet high and there are 414 steps, which are about 30 inches wide, and much more narrow as the staircase spirals. There is only one staircase, so visitors use it to ascend and descend, necessitating that you have to stand sideways at times to allow a group to go in the opposite direction. Thank goodness it was not July or August, or the heat would have been unbearable.

There were a few levels where you could stop and walk around, so I had a chance to catch my breath. It is a strenuous climb, as even young people were huffing and puffing and sweating by the time they reached the top. The last 60 or so steps, those who were descending were offering words of encouragement to those going up.

Once at the top however, the climb was well worth it. The views were stunning and I could see all of Florence below and also the surrounding countryside. It was truly spectacular!
View of Florence from the Campanile

Afterwards, I made my way to the famous Ponte Vecchio, which is lined with jewelry shops. I was on a mission to look for a particular type of cameo for my daugter-in-law, but had no luck.
Near the Ponte Vecchio in Florence

I stopped for lunch at a wonderful outdoor restaurant, Reginella, near the Accademia, and had a margherita pizza and coca light for the unbelievable price of 8 euros, a special.

The young waiters made me laugh, as they were eyeing all the young girls that walked by, and in typical Italian style, calling after them, asking where have they been all their lives, saying “don’t worry, I’m not married,” and smiling. They spoke very good English and I joked with them about their flirting, and they told me that it is a hard job but someone has to do it. They really knew how to have fun at work.

After lunch it was time for some serious shopping at the San Lorenzo Market. Having been here before, I knew that I could find quality leather bags and silk ties at great prices, so I had a great time for the next two hours, and got everything I needed and then some! The vendors were very nice, and not at all pushy. If you bought more than one item, or were paying in cash, they were happy to make deals. I left there a happy shopper.

San Lorenzo Market in Florence
I had hoped to have time to visit Fiesole, a short bus ride from Firenze, and by 4:30pm I was on my way there, buying a bus ticket for two euros on the bus. Thanks to my friend Tamela, who had visited this small town, I knew that I would be able to see all of Firenze from this hilltop town.

When I arrived, I had to hike up a very steep hill on via San Francesco, which was at least 30 degrees, but it seemed more like 45. Thank goodness it was only a ten minute walk with stops, as I was carrying a bag with all my purchases from a day of shopping in Firenze!
View of Florence from Fiesole

No matter how hard the climb, the views were totally worth it. It is 5pm and I am sitting in a public garden near the top of the hill. The church bells are ringing, birds are chirping, and I feel a cool gentle breeze, as I am looking at all of Florence from high above. It is a beautiful sight with the red tile roofs, and the lush green from surrounding Tuscany. What a nice oasis from the faster pace of Florence.
In Fiesole

7 Responses

  1. Lori Samarin

    You are living proof why (in general) one does not gain weight in Italy: it’s all the walking and the steps, steps, steps….My friends and family who come to visit from Italy or Europe in general are always amazed at how we as Americans choose to drive two blocks or a mile or two to a store or destination, versus walking; even in Florida! Italian cities are all walkable cities. You look like you are losing weight, Margie! Are you going to surprize us upon your return? I wish I knew that you were looking to purchase a certain type of jewelry (cameo) . My mother’s first cousin is a gioielliere and orologiaio in Cividale. I could have had Nerina take you to him, for a “family” discount.

  2. Your experiences are such fun reading, Margie. I am thrilled for you that you are having such a tremendously wonderful time! What a beautiful photo experience these views are! I can only imagine how beautiful your viewing experiences in real life! I hope you were able to connect with your friend’s cousin for the cameo you are looking for! “itsa small world !! Happy Easter, dear friend. Love You

  3. I have found the answer to life

    I loved Florence…staying right across from the Arno River, sitting on the balconey at night of my hotel…forgetting that I actually belong in another country.
    I loved the markets and found the city so easy just to wander through without worrying about getting lost.
    Did you find the remarkable “designer” leather shop by the markets..It was within its own building.
    I went in and the ower was there that day. He apparently liked my “shape” and asked me to model his newest leather coat he had just designed. It was black reversible, with the smoothest leather on one side, and the softest shortest cut of suede on the other…and it fit like I had stood and he had sewed it to me…Magnifico!!!!
    I loved the extra of modelling for them, but unfortunatly at the cost of 8500.00 Euro, the well fitted coat had to stay behind..

  4. What a lovely adventure!

  5. Reblogged this on Ana Livingston, Fine Artist & Muralist and commented:
    My new friend, Margie. Feel free to take part in her adventures! 🙂

  6. Welcome to Florence, don’t forget to try some gelato!

  7. Many years ago I remember staying a night or two in Fiesole..as you say, stunning views of Florence!

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