Buongiorno from Florence,
We arrived in Florence, got ourselves out of the train station and caught a taxi to ‘Torre Guelfa’, a hotel we have stayed in several times before. It has a wonderful feel, the staff are extremely friendly and we have always enjoyed our time there. The Hotel had some renovations done in 2010 but all the qualities that we have enjoyed in the past remained the same, like the service, the breakfast and the tower.
A bit of history here -in 1260 Niccolò Acciaioli built a palace on land that his father bought in 1160, and the Torre Guelfa is part of that building. In 1280 the Buondelmonti family built the Tower to the right of the original palace entrance and in the 14th century the tower itself became part of the Acciaioli palace. The tower has survived all of the trials and tribulations of nature and mankind, not the least of which were the bombing raids of the 2nd world War.
The Hotel is in a fairly central location in Borgo S.S. Apostili, one street back from the river and is literally a “stones throw” from the Ponte Vecchio.
After quickly unpacking and setting up our room, we hit the streets to rediscover some of the delights that this wonderful city has to offer. We have only previously visited Florence in January, when everything is quiet, as well as cold. Florence in the summer is a bit different, very busy with huge numbers of visitors, very hot and humid but still fantastic!
As evening approached we made our way up the 72 steps to the top of the tower to have a drink and take in the sights. A couple of Prosseco’s later, we were fairly relaxed, the view was, as always, breathtaking as the sun began to sink below the horizon.
As you can see Barbara has her arm in a brace. For those of you who haven’t caught up with this, a week before we were to leave Adelaide, Barbara was visiting Phil and Neralie in Canberra, unfortunately she slipped over on some food on the floor in the supermarket and fractured her wrist. As a result she had to undergo surgery to put in a plate and screws to repair the damage. A deal made with the very fabulous doctor was that he would do the surgery and we would delay our travels by a week. This meant instead of celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in the hills outside Florence we spent the day on Qantas flights! So, instead of sipping Moët out of crystal glassware, we quaffed “Jacob’s Crëëk” from a plastic cup 10,000 metres above the earth. The surgery was successful and her arm is improving every day.
Early the next day Barbara went off to become a member of the Uffuzi Gallery. Membership means that you don’t have to queue for the Uffizi, and also includes VIP entry into most of the other galleries in Florence. To get this membership took about an hour of waiting very patiently (and meeting other people who were also trying to short circuit the wait), but this certainly beat the 2-3 hour wait people who didn’t do this had to go through. The queues are UNBELIEVABLE!!! She spent a couple of very pleasurable hours looking at the amazing Renaissance collection in this beautiful building – Thank you Medici family.
I hit the cobblestones to take some photos and generally re familiarize myself with Florence. I had noticed in Milan the previous few days that very vibrant colours were in fashion, both in clothing and accessories, colours so bright I’m sure they can be seen from outer space, my bright lime green shirt and blue jeans were just no match for the kaleidoscope of vivid colours being worn in Europe.
The last time we were in Florence, we went to a little restaurant just down the street from our hotel. On that occasion I tried the Florentine speciality, ‘bistecca alla fiorentina’ (steak) the customary size of which is about 1200 grams. It was so big I didn’t know whether to put a saddle on it and ride it, or eat it. I opted for the latter, this thing was so big that when I was half way through, the waiter took pity on me and took it back to the kitchen to re-heat it for me. This time I wasn’t quite as brave and just had a small moderate steak, no reheating required!
That evening, we made our way back to the top of the Tower to visit Chris, the resident wine expert and lovely lady who served us with more Prosseco. We sat in the cool breeze on top of the world and watched the sun go down.
We now head of to the N.E. of Florence to the Fattoria di Maiano, which is situated about 2.5 kms from Fiesole.
Lance and Barbara