After a few days of packing away and cleaning Mercier, ensuring she is ready for the Roman winter, we have landed in Florence, and our first night ashore in 2 months.
So we take the Eurostar from Rome Friday afternoon (travelling at up to 140 knots according to the GPS), find a lovely little B&B, travel outside Florence Centro Storico during the day and wander the streets at night.
We found a room off the grand Piazza Del Signoria, the wonderful La Signoria di Firenze, seconds away from the energy and activity of the surrounding piazzas, mercatos and gelato bars. Friday night we went to Trattoria Nella, a restaurant we have enjoyed on our last trip, where we shared a 1kg T-bone steak, Florentine style. Later there was a jazz band playing outside the Palazzo Vecchio, with hundreds of people wandering around the Piazza enjoying the warm evening.
At breakfast the next day, we meet other guests and chat about where everyone is from and it turns out that two of the other guests are singing in a chorale in the Medici’s own parish church, the Basilica of San Lorenzo on Saturday night.
It brings us to what we can’t put into the blog, the sounds. We have been lucky that as we are rambling through the cobblestoned streets of Florence, we are surrounded by sounds. Early in the morning and through the days we hear the bells of the Duomo pealing, later in the afternoon, a very Operatic young busker, is doing a rendition of Nessun Dorma that would not be out of place in the Opera House.
Last night we went to San Lorenzo and listened to sacred music sung by a choir at the high altar; both the music and acoustics were sublime. Not something we would usually indulge in but for an hour in Florence, it was a wonderful way to see the Church, in full song.
Afterwards we wandered in the evening warmth, heat being released long after the sun had descended. In a darkened alley of stone street below and stone building above, a haunting violin concerto being played by a statuesque woman followed us down the streets. The atmosphere in Florence at night is dramatic and engaging.
During the day, it is difficult to go more than a few steps in Florence before running into an umbrella lady leading a tour group, so we headed off for a little taste of Siena and San Gimignano. We realised we need more time to visit, but thought we would have a quick look and plan our return, as well as share the photos. Tuscany looks just like the description you have read in books or seen in the films. San Gimignano starred in the film, Tea with Mussolini, one of my favourite films.