Last cruise, I was finally able to fulfill my dream of going to Florence. I got off the ship with a group of 8, planning to take public transit. In the cruise terminal, however, a charming taxi driver approached us offering a tour to Pisa and Florence. The major selling point was that the van was equipped with wifi!
On our way to Pisa, we learned more about our driver. His name was Andreas, and sadly, since he was extremely attractive, he was married with two children. After the tourist season ended, he and his family were going to take a long vacation to Thailand. He also had great taste in music! The playlist for the drive was right up my alley.
Since I already had my photo session at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, I just grabbed a coffee and wandered around during our 15-minute stop. I ran into one of the guys from the sport staff, unsuccessfully trying to take a selfie. I helped him get a decent photo, and then went back to the van.
The drive to Florence was beautiful. When we reached the city, we were dropped off at Piazza Duomo, given maps of the city, a suggested route, and set a meeting time 4 hours later. We first stopped at the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower, originally called Il Duomo di Firenze. Arnolfo di Cambio designed the Gothic style basilica in 1296. Filippo Brunelleschi completed the dome in 1436.
From there, we walked down Via Calzaioli to Piazza Signoria to see the imitation statue of Michelangelo’s “David”. The original statue is across the city at the Academia, but photos are prohibited. We then walked through the cortile, or internal courtyard, of the Uffizi Gallery, a structure originally built for Cosimo de Medici as the offies for Florentine magistrates.
We ended up near the old bridge at Ponte Vecchio. The bridge is lined with shops and fantastic views over Fiume Arno. After taking a few photos and grabbing some souvenirs, we walked southwest, outside the general tourist area, to find lunch. We read some delicious sounding menus, before ending up at a pizzeria. There were a few picky eaters in the group, so pizza was the safest way to satisfy everyone.
After lunch, we wandered through a market at Piazza Madonna, then went to the Academia in hopes of seeing the original “David”. Unfortunately, the lines were much too long. We decided instead to do a bit more shopping and get some gelato.
When we met back up with Andreas, we had an easy drive back to the ship. I was sad to leave the city, as there as still much more that I’d like to see. However, I was extremely satisfied with my day in Florence! Italy, I will be coming back!