We arrived a couple of hours late on Friday due to a delay in Genova, where we changed trains. According to the announcements that I could understand, there was a strike and this was causing delays all along the routes. Regardless, we made it to Florence and had a bit of a mixup finding our BNB because apparently, some street numbers are duplicated, with businesses having red numbers and residences having black numbers. We, nor Google Maps, could tell the difference and we ended up standing outside a restaurant at 122 Guelfa wondering just how to approach the waiter and ask if he was expecting a couple of overnight guests. As it turns out, our 122 was a couple of blocks down the street. Once we got that all figured out and settled in, we took to the streets again in search of some supper and a few groceries to cover us for the next couple of days. Like the other European cities that we have been to, there are restaurants, cafes, bars and little grocery stores tucked in everywhere up and down the streets. We didn’t have to go far to find a nice, little place that suited our palate and our budget.
With supper complete and groceries stored in the refrigerator and cupboard, I headed off to bed as it had been a long day. Richard came to bed a little later but he was restless and ended up getting up during the night. Unfortunately, he seemed to have caught a bit of a bug and had a tough night. Saturday was a quiet day as Richard rested and I babied my foot. By the end of the day, we both felt better and knew that we would do much better on Sunday.
Sunday morning we headed off to church. This time to the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore or more commonly known as Florence Cathedral. It is one of Italy’s biggest churches and is famous for its dome which is the largest brick dome ever constructed. Construction on the church began in 1296 but was not completed until 1436. There are actually three buildings in Piazza del Duomo – the Cathedral, the Bell Tower and the Baptistery. We were astonished by how large this complex really is. The buildings seem to go on forever. Richard took a number of pictures but I don’t think that that he was able to fit everything into one picture. So, you actually have to buy tickets to tour the Cathedral and surrounding buildings but because we were attending mass, we were given a free pass. I have read in travel blogs that if you want to experience local people in their most private, yet public, moments, you should attend church services. In all the services that we have attended over the last few months, we have definitely seen the heart of the community in the music, in the light banter before and after service and within the service itself. Today, inside this very large, very old and very ornate church, we again found all these things. The mass was in Latin and Italian, the choir sang Gregorian chant accompanied by a large pipe organ and we enjoyed every minute of it. I wonder if church will seem a little humdrum once we get home….
We walked home through a number of street markets selling many things but especially Italian leather goods. We vowed to come back later and scope out the area but headed home for a late brunch and to do some trip planning. After booking a few more legs of our journey and talking to some friends and family back home, we got back out late in the day for a stroll, and a bite to eat. A glorious evening to end a very glorious day.
The dome from the inside.
Some local Pizza that we sampled tonight.