Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Florence Day 10: Heart of the City Walk

After touring Palazzo Vecchio and the Bargello museum on Wednesday morning, we grabbed lunch and headed back to our B&B for a bit of rest and to wait out the rain. Lunch was panini from I Due Fratellini ("the two brothers")--a literal hole in the wall that has been in business since 1875. Twenty-nine kinds of sandwiches, only €3 each! Not to mention a large wine selection.
When the brothers saw me taking a photo of their shop as we walked away, they stopped and posed :)
We'd been told to expect long lines, but didn't have to wait at all. The sandwiches were so cheap that we chose three different kinds to try. Below, top to bottom: pancetta e peperoni arrosto (cured meat with roasted peppers--note that uncooked pancetta, while translated "bacon" in an English menu, does decidedly *not* taste or feel like bacon); bresaola e rucola (cured beef and arugula--or as the English menus translate it, "rocket salad"!); and crudo, mozzarella (ham and cheese). These were all just OK because, no salt in the bread! Ugh! I don't care how salty the meat is, The Bread. Needs. Salt.
The photo on the right is the view from the window of our B&B room--in the distance is Piazza Santa Maria Novella.

Thankfully the rain let up after a little while and we were able to go exploring again. Unfortunately because of our pre-scheduled wine tour smack in the middle of our time in Florence, we weren't able to maximize the use of our Firenze Cards. So that's another pro tip for you: If you are going to venture out into Chianti wine country or to Pisa or Cinque Terre (there are so many interesting day trips to make from Florence), schedule that on the first or last day of your trip. Firenze Cards are only good for 72 hours from the moment of activation, so after we'd activated ours on Sunday, we essentially "wasted" all of Monday while out in the countryside and then they expired at 2PM Wednesday, when we still had several more hours available for sightseeing.

So, since we didn't have time to do any more museums, we used our Lonely Planet pocket guide to go on a "Heart of the City" walk. The guidebook says:
"Every visitor to Florence spends time navigating the cobbled medieval lanes that run between Via de Tornabuoni and Via del Proconsolo but few explore them thoroughly, instead focusing on the major monuments and spaces. This walk will introduce you to some less visited sights and laneways."
The walk begins at Piazza della Repubblica, which was the site of a Roman forum back in the day and was also the heart of medieval Florence. The square in its current incarnation was created in the 1880s (quite controversially, as it involved displacing nearly 6000 people).

From there we walked to Chiesa Orsanmichele, a church created in the 1300s by walling in an old grain market. Unfortunately many of these smaller churches did not allow photography inside, so I don't have a ton of pictures. 


Next was Mercato Nuovo, which I shared about in my Mercato Centrale post. Apparently you're supposed to rub the nose of Il Porcellino ("the piglet"--a bronze wild boar) to ensure your return to Florence. Better safe than sorry, right? :)

Palazzo Spini-Feroni, a Gothic palace that houses the flagship store and museum of shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo.

Chiesa di Santa Trinità // photo:

Chiesa dei Santissimi Apostoli--a Romanesque-style church, one of the oldest churches in Florence. It faces Piazza del Limbo, a sunken square that was once used as a cemetery for babies who died before being baptized.
The walk ended at Ponte Vecchio, so we continued across the bridge. It's so strange the way it doesn't even feel like you're on a bridge, with shops lining both sides. 

In the next two photos, you can see part of Cosimo (one of the Medici Grand Dukes)'s walkway, built so that he could travel between his home and office without mixing with the lowly commoners.

Just on the other side of the river, you find Palazzo Pitti--designed by Brunelleschi for a wealthy banker in 1457, but sold upon completion to...who else?? The Medicis. 

Since our Firenze Cards had run out by this time, we didn't end up touring the palace or the Boboli Gardens. We simply wandered around a bit, and then headed back across Ponte Santa Trinità to find an early dinner before our flight out the next day. 

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