continuing with my trip report now back from home...
Tuesday 8th of May
Tuesday was Palazzo Vecchio day. I had booked 10 am slot for the "Secret Passages" guided tour. :)
A little mishap happened first thing in the morning: halfway through walking there I thought I'm packing peculiarly light that day and realised I don't have my camera. 😀 Oops. No worries, we were early so the hubby went back to the hotel to get it and I went ahead to pick up the tickets. Another good thing about staying in a very centrally located hotel, time to do that!
I paid for the tickets and happily noticed there were only a few people there that early. No crowds! Palazzo Vecchio has a cloakroom but they only take backpacks. I would have left my leather jacket and little umbrella there otherwise.
Our group for the tour was pretty small, about 10 people. The guide was very knowledgeable but had quite a thick Italian accent so at times we had to struggle to understand her. 😊
First things first: the tour is NOT a Dan Brown tour by any means. 😀 It was all about the Palazzo's history (good for first-time visitors) and about the secret rooms. For example she took us to Francesco I’s Studiolo where he used to keep his valued items and maybe occasionally show them off to foreign rulers who were visiting. We also went up over to the ceiling of Salone dei Cinquecento, Hall of the Five Hundred, but weren’t allowed to climb there. Just checked the original structures etc.
Salone dei Cinquecento is really quite impressive (which is the point I guess). Very grand, huge frescoes on the walls and statues representing Florence’s victory of whatever enemy. Florence is seems to be presented as the young vital one and the defeated enemy the old one, lol.
After the tour we were free to roam the Palazzo by ourselves. Went straight to the tower first because the guide warned us it might be closed as it looked like it was going to rain (it didn’t). There was a bit of a wait to the tower, a few minutes maybe, because they let as many people climb as are coming down. There are a few different levels to climb with different views. What a view it is from the top! Very much worth it. And a nice breeze of wind on a hot day. :)
Visiting the different rooms I almost got a sore neck again for craning, so many pretty decorated ceilings to look at. :) So many rooms anyway. For example Room of the Elements, Hall of Lilies (gorgeous!), Hall of Maps... It would’ve been great to go through the secret door in the Hall of Maps but sadly that wasn’t part of the guided tour. Statue of Little Angel With Dolphin was lovely. And Dante's death mask was a must to go stare at of course. 😀 Dante had a very memorable face by the way. Easy to recognise, don't know why that is.
Lastly we popped by the excavations near the ticket office but those were somewhat underwhelming.
After the Palazzo it was lunchtime so we walked to All'Antico Vinaio in the hopes of those sandwiches. But the queues were monstrous...! Yikes! I wasn't over starved (cranky) yet but knew if we would queue there in the burning sun it would have taken way too long. 😀 So instead we headed to Cantinetta dei Verrazzano, it was near. Had focaccias and juice. 😊 The pastries looked delicious too but unfortunately it was so hot inside (we were sitting close to the oven) we just ate quickly and headed out. There would have been a few very nice looking little outside tables but of course there was a wait to those.
Then we just walked around and did some shopping. Went to Rinascente to check out their kitchen stuff. They have a pretty good selection. I bought a funky egg yolk separator. 😊 We also took a look at the rooftop terrace but there was only one table free and it was unfortunately in direct sunlight.
Then it was Pegna and Eataly for some souvenirs (chocolate and cantuccini). I got my beloved Benedetto Cavalieri spagettoni at last from Eataly. ❤ Should have bought more, there was room in the suitcases. Hmph.
At that point it was time for some drinks. We went to Move on and sat at an outside table looking at the Duomo. :) They didn't really have much of a beer selection although they categorise themselves as a pub... So we had coctails, gin tonic and spritz.
Even though the weather was still hot we kinda started needing the daily dose of coffee & pastries so decided to leave the shopping bags to the hotel and head to Oltrano to see what is available. Mama's Bakery was just closing, what a shame (it was on my notes). I bought postcards from a shop that was on the edge of a nice looking piazza (Piazza Santo Spirito?). No cake shops in sight yet...
Finally we came to Palazzo Pitti and across it was a cafe that had good looking pastries and outside tables. 😊 We got our coffees and with them a cannoli, a danish and a red velvet cupcake (one of my favorites, make them myself regularly). As we were sitting there under the shade suddenly it started raining and it was quite funny how the crowds swarming in front of the Palazzo scurried away fast. It was like watching a choreographed performance. 😀 The rain stopped soon though. Palazzo Pitti is huge by the way! If it's all museum it must take a week to see everything. The curb appeal was a bit lacking. It's just a grey/brown yard.
That night we wanted to go to Trattoria al Trebbio for dinner (like we should have done on Sunday instead of that disaster place). :) A great little place, decorated with movie posters which is a sure winner in my book. 😀 I had parmigiana di melanzane and it was just heavenly! Yum yum! I also had a side of vegetables which was an overkill because the main would have been enough. The other half had a steak with roasted potatoes and red wine. For dessert we had coffees with chocolate cake & panna cotta. Everything was good. :)
When we got out of the door it was suddenly raining like mad. Luckily we were close to the hotel and had one brolly. Slowly made our way back... Once we had to stop under a doorway for a moment when it really poured down. There's a beer place called Fermento just around the block from the hotel so we went there for drinks before calling it a night. Nice pub and the selection was pretty decent. 😊
After that it was nighty-night because we were having another early morning the next day which was the Chianti day. 😊
I'll write about that next!