The best of Florence

Finally, a week off. Now I'm sure some people think that travelling is just a big holiday, in some ways it is in other ways it can be hard work. Whatever your perception a week located in the same city is heaven for the backpacker who needs a break from that heavy pack. We decided on Florence located in the region of tuscany, not entirely sure why, but we seem to have adopted the phrase ‘why not?’. Florence is located an easy 3 hour jaunt from Venice and it has lots of do and see. In any case I met Dean at Padova station and we took the train to Florence.

We rented an apartment in the outskirts of Florence for 7 nights. It was pretty lux, with a spiral staircase to the bedroom, a bathtub, and a full kitchen. It was a 20 minute bus ride away from the centre and a good deal cheaper than any of our other options. It was the perfect place to relax, and we planned on doing plenty of that. PLUS it had 3 televisions- who needs that many tv’s?

On the streets of Florence we wandered examining the streets and sampling the gelato and panini offerings of the city. Our favourite was a tiny Sicilian sandwich shop who eyeballed me upon entering and predicted my sandwich taste - paper mortadella with mozzarella and basil pesto. And it was amazing.

We walked upon the famous Ponte Vecchio, translated to English it loses its romance and is simply ‘Old Bridge’. It bridge itself is lined with expensive jewelry stores but is a delightful glimpse into the past when the shops would have contained a variety of goods.

We went up to Michelangelo's Piazza at night after dinner and watched the glittering lights of the city. Upon the statues, a gaggle of 20 something's drinking cheap wine with Contiki lanyards around their neck were making memories. The piazza is a place for hanging with friends and taking in the night. We caught up with one of my sister's old friend from her time in Italy and he showed us around.

When in Florence you must visit the classics for it is the home of Galileo, De Medici’s and various classical works of art. Our first stop was the Galileo museum which housed some of Galileo’s personal scientific instruments as well as a large collection of globes, telescopes and medical instruction.

Of course we also had to visit the Uffizi gallery though one must reserve their ticket at least a day in advance during the summer and you should expect decent sized crowds all day long. Inside was housed famous works such as The Birth of Venus, in addition to collections of Caravaggio, Botticelli, and Leonardo Da Vinci. The highlight for me, apart from the entire collection being housed in a Medici residence, was the extensive collection of portraits of the leaders of the medieval world. Faces familiar and some I only knew the name but to see their faces adorning such an impressive home was overwhelming even with today's ease of access thanks to the internet.

Another highlight for me was the busts of Roman leaders. Never before had I seen the faces of great leaders like Hadrian and IVS Caesar or the not so great leaders like Nero.

I finally got the chance to cook. We decided on the famous Florintine steak the size of my head with a side of roast potatoes, salad, and of course a bottle of Chianti.

Florence, and Tuscany in general, is a special place. Beauty surrounds the terracotta coloured roofs for as far as the eye can see and I sure a. Glad I was able to see it for myself.

In our next adventure we go to Pisa to see the famous leaning tower, and we go to a beautiful city which was once a power hub to witness one of Italy's premiere sporting events.