Florence, San Gimignano & Siena
Our fourth stop was Florence. Florence is the major city in the Tuscany region.
Our time in Florence was fleeting and mainly spent eating. We arrived in Florence midweek, late in the afternoon. Arriving in the afternoon was fine, however it did mean that most places were closed until the evening. So once we had freshened up at our hotel, we went for a stroll in the surrounding blocks, found somewhere for dinner, ate and then called it a day.
Our next day, we were up early and walking toward the Arno river and Ponte Vecchio bridge. We decided to walk to our starting point and then walk back toward the hotel and aim to get back around lunchtime or just after.
We took our time as well strolled over Ponte Vecchio, we were probably a little to early, as most of the stores were not open or just opening.
Then we started to make our way back towards our hotel which was by Santa Maria Novella, just stopping in shops that took our fancy and admiring the architecture along the way.
We also visited the Duomo. Although, as much as the outside is gorgeous, the inside is completely bare, which is a little disappointing, but it doesn't cost anything to go in.
For dinner we headed to San Lorenzo market. Which is a big open restaurant inside, and all around the outside of the room are all different eateries and in the middle is a bar, with seating on either side.
We ate at San Lorenzo quite a few times, and enjoyed it every time. There was pizza, pasta, meat, fish, a deli, a sweets place, a patisserie, and of course the most important place the Gelateria - which was some of the best gelato we had in our entire trip.
One our last full day, we headed out on a day trip into Tuscany, which went to a small medieval town called San Gimignano, Siena and then to a winery in Chianti.
While San Gimignano was interesting, my favourite place on our trip, was Siena.
Siena is a very interesting place, it is entered around the Piazza, Piazza del Campo, which is shaped like a sea shell and every year they have a horse race, the Palio in the square. In the Palio the horses represent a different district or contrada. There are 17 different contrada in Siena, each having their own chapel, mascot, and history.
During our tour, we did a walking tour with a local guide, and she took us into a local contrada, and we got to learn all about the history of the Eagle contrada.
We then moved on, and started walking towards the Siena Cathedral or Duomo. Here we learnt that the people of Siena were very wealthy, so inside the Duomo is quite grand, compared to the Florence Duomo, which is all stone inside. We also learnt that they tried to extend the duomo to wrap around, however they never finished it. Also, if you look closely to the colours of Siena's Duomo, you will notice that it is black and white striped. This is because these are the colours of Siena.
After we left Siena, we made the incredibly long and windy road to a vineyard in Chianti and a local village, before heading back to Florence.
Once we got back to Florence, it was dinner time and double points for those can guess where we went. Yup, we went to San Lorenzo market, again.
The next morning we were off again to our final Italian destination, Venice.