We only had one night in Florence, so we had to make the best of our morning before we had to catch the afternoon train to Pisa. We had booked tickets to visit the Uffizi Gallery, but with my injury as well as what we believed too little time to visit such an art gallery. So we instead decided to visit the Florence’s Duomo.
Before that, however, we stopped in at the San Lorenzo market to look at the wares and goods. There were bottles upon bottles of olive oil, there were stacks of garlic heads, there were heaps of sun dried tomatoes, there was barrels full of dried porcini mushrooms- an Italian foodie paradise. I wish I had bought some aged balsamic vinegar they had for sale there for less than $10 euro, as it was such a deal. Sadly I never got back to the area to purchase it.
As soon as we arrived at the Duomo, Simon headed right for the steps to the dome and the great view it provides over Florence, while I hung back and walked around the interior of the cathedral.
The cathedral itself is pretty sparsely furnished, as many of the items have been already moved to museum, but the main focus of it is the fantastic fresco in the cathedral’s cupola:
Giorgio Vasari started this magnificent work of “The Last Judgement” and it was finished in 1579 by his student, Federico Zuccari. Simon was still waiting to enter the dome, so I headed outside to walk around the perimeter of the duomo’s piazza. While out there, I visited some gift shops and encountered these three ladies who were fiddling fiercely classical pieces.
Simon, far above in the cupola, managed to get a few awesome shots (and even more awesome panoramas) overlooking Florence.
When the belltower stuck 12 noon, we both knew our time in Florence was drawing to a close, so I met Simon at entrance and we ran back to our hotel to grab our bags and head to the train station. We were meeting Simon’s parents at the Pisa Centrale Station at 3. In our haste to get on the train, we forgot to validate our train tickets. Oops. One shouldn’t forget the validate their ticket, be it for a train or bus. That can lead to big fines. We were thankfully let off with a warning (whew!) and reminded ourselves to not do that again.
We met with Simon’s parents 10 minutes early and we all drove to the Frantoio del Monte villa outside of Lucca, where we met up with all of the extended family who came from the UK. In total, 14 of us rented out three apartments within the villa. In our villa, we were staying with Simon’s Aunt Bernadette, cousin Claire, her husband Rich, and their adorable little boy, Luca. The villa was set on what used to be an olive oil pressing factory, and we found olive trees surrounding us. Shame that the olives weren’t ripe for picking yet.
After arriving to a self-serving accommodation, we had to run out shortly after to pick up some basic food items to get by for the week. I’m not sure how very basic they all were, but it’s really amazing at how inexpensive food is to buy in Italy, especially local produce and products. Buying a wedge of parmegiano reggiano cheese in Vancouver can cost over $10, but in Italy? Maybe 2-3 euros. If only I packed a separate suitcase for food items- I would have filled it fairly quickly.
We had a lovely dinner with the family that cousin Nicole and her family made for us and we finally kicked back, resting our weary travel bones.