You will have to forgive a certain lack of enthusiasm that may be apparent in my tone whilst typing this post. Everywhere else we stayed on the trip we’d assumed that one full day in a city would be enough for us to “do” the important bits before moving on. This had proven to be the case in Milan a week previously, where we’d planned two but got done in one and went to Bergamo the following day instead. For some reason we held on to the belief that two days would be needed to see Florence. Maybe it was the heat getting the better of us, or maybe the crowds, but by mid-afternoon we’d had enough again.
Back at the start of the day, we had a full crack at breakfast, arriving at 8:30am, but somehow it was better the previous day when we only had 20 minutes. The hotel split the breakfast room into two sections, one for bus tours and one for everyone else. As there were loads of people on bus tours their buffet was getting lots of focus and was kept pretty fresh by the rapid turnover. Ours was a somewhat stale affair of dry bread, limited fruit and overcooked eggs. This was definitely the worst breakfast so far.
We caught a bus downtown at about 10am and made our way to the ticket office for the cathedral. We managed to obtain tickets for the cathedral, bell tower and baptistery. We couldn’t get tickets for the cathedral dome, because those apparently sell out months in advance. Did I mention it was hot ? A sign outside a pharmacy we passed was reading 41°C.
So first of all we walked into and sat in the baptistery. There was no queue to get in, although it was busy inside. We mainly sat and tried to photograph the walls and ceiling, which are rather ornately painted. It was difficult to get a good shot in the half light.
Next up we queued for 20 minutes to go up the bell tower. For me, this was probably the highlight of an average sort of day. It’s quite a long way up but the stairs weren’t too bad and at least it was in shade. At the top there’s a really good view aside from the chicken wire grade fencing they’ve put round to stop people throwing stuff off. This essentially means it’s nearly impossible to take good photos of the town from up the top.
When we got back down it was 12:55, so we decided to queue up for the opening of the cathedral at 1:30. By the time we got to the front door it was more like 2pm. And here we hit upon a bit of a problem. Apparently Kas was showing too much leg to be let in. The same rule didn’t apply to either of the kids, and nor, seemingly, did it apply to most of the other women entering the building, but it applied to Kas and she couldn’t go in. Me and the girls therefore suddenly lost any interest in wandering round the place, so we did the necessary selfie with Uccello’s clock, as required by a virtual geocache, and then we went straight out again. From what little we saw, the inside of the cathedral has a highly decorative floor but otherwise is rather plain, certainly in comparison to other cathedrals we’d been into on this trip. No loss then, really.
Kas was fairly easy to find, and once we met up we decided to go and get something to eat. We sat in a small cafe nearby and had some over-priced sandwiches, drinks and ice cream whilst generally feeling a bit touristed-out. Izzy shopped for a few trinkets and then we had a less than enthusiastic walk back to the bus stop, consuming several bottles of cold water between us while we walked.
We were back in the hotel room by 4:15 and that’s where we stayed for a couple of hours while we cooled down and tried to get our mojo back. For dinner we went back to the Restaurant Aloisius. It was just as good, except this time we had to ask them for the silly liqueurs. And that was more or less it for Florence. I’m sure it’s really beautiful, but if I was going again I’d go in winter and in the middle of the week. I probably won’t go again though.