Yesterday we moved over to the Oltrarno area of Florence into to the apartment we rented for the next two weeks. (That's our new neighborhood, above.) We're on the other side of the Arno river from the center of town, and it's a bit quieter here than say, over near the Duomo. It's fantastic! We rented this apartment through a company called Windows on Italy and if you're visiting Florence and want a sweet spot to call home, we highly recommend this company. Here's the inside:
It's got gigantic high ceilings, a loft bedroom with a queen bed (not two twins pushed together like everywhere else has), a full bathroom, laundry, nice dining area, small kitchen, two story windows that open out onto the street, Wi-Fi, A/C, bike parking downstairs (inside the courtyard)…and tons of charm. (Oh, and frescoes in the loft!) Here's a bit of info from the Windows on Italy website about the building:
The apartment is located on the first floor with lift of an impressive building dating back to the XVI century, called Palazzo Medici, which represents a typical example of true Florentine architecture. The palazzo is now home to 8 luxury apartments thanks to a recent restoration programme which has skilfully combined modern comforts and quality furnishings whilst preserving the building’s original historical features. Palazzo Medici can sleep up to a total of 35 people and is therefore a great option for large groups or families who wish to visit Florence and stay altogether in one building.
We settled in a little and then headed out to explore a bit. Hey, look at that!
The Ghiberti Gates, (dubbed by Michelangelo as the "Gates of Paradise") on the Florence Baptistry. The Baptistry building is undergoing renovation right now, but the gates were still viewable:
We'd planned to see the Florence Cathedral and the Duomo on a different day, but the lines weren't too long and we opted to go up into the Duomo. It was supposed to be a day of rest after 6 days of riding and all that climbing the previous day, but what's another 463 stairs to the top of Florence?
People just can't help themselves. The walls were covered, the whole way up. Eventually you get to a spot up high inside the dome where you get a pretty great view of the ceiling frescoes:
Here's a composite we made from our ledge inside the dome:
A few more stairs (okay, more than "a few") and you're as far as you can go, and you pop outside, and there's this view of the Campanile di Giotto:
And the city below:
I love the long shadows:
Detail at the top:
We took in the spectular view of the city for a bit and then made the trek all the way back down those 463 stairs. We paid way too much for an espresso and a snack across the square (1 Euro for the coffee, 3 Euros for the view/location) and then decided we needed a few more stairs, so we climbed up into the Campanile (412 steps, I think):
Inside, looking up:
Another (two photo) composite, inside the bell tower:
And then, from the top:
We were right over there with those people, just a few minutes ago!
View of the under construction Florence Baptistry:
And more great views of the city. The prominent building in the left of this photo is the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella:
The old center of the city:
Sunset over the Arno River:
Last night we had dinner at a spot right around the corner (literally, about 100 feet from our front door…we can see the tables from our window). It was fantastic: Il Santo Bevitore. We will definitely be coming back here during our stay.
This morning we headed toward Michelangelo Florentine Leather to look for some, well, leather stuff. This place has great reviews (and the quality is far better than what you can find in the stalls on the street) but he wasn't open, so we had some coffee and wandered around a bit. Here's the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella that we'd seen from afar the yesterday, taken from our morning coffee table:
We'll go inside the basilica when we come back to Michelangelo's…today was Sunday and we figured it was likely off limits to non-Catholic tourists like us. We wandered back through town and passed by the Palazzo Vecchio (the Town Hall of Florence, where our friends will be married on May 29th! … the reason we're here!):
Heading back toward our apartment…the Ponte Vecchio (a "Medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge" over the Arno River):
Ponte Santa Trinita (the oldest elliptic arch bridge in the world):
We headed over to the nearby grocery store, but it was closed (oh right, Sunday) so we opted to stop at a little pizzeria near our apartment for a late lunch/early dinner. Inside the pizza joint:
Oh yeah, there are these "do not enter" signs all over the place at the one-way road intersections, and there's some fabulous grafitti on so many of them. Here are two right near our apartment, but I plan to gather more:
Tomorrow we're going to head over (by bike!) to the Mercato Centrale to gather ingredients for cooking and eating…one of the great things about having an apartment in another city/country: shopping for food!