I am staying with family friends, the Milazzo's. They live just outside Florence in an old farmhouse.
With a view like this.
Yesterday I did nothing but sit around with their two boys, Pietro and Matteo, who are my age. It was lots and lots of fun to do nothing at all, and when I got bored of that, I could go look outside.
Today I took the bus into town. My first stop was the Santa Mario Novella church, since it was right beside the bus stop. Inside there are some beautifully restored frescos. Interesting choice for the story they tell, but amazing.
I had lunch on the steps of Piazza San Lorenzo, where there are loads of covered stalls selling all sorts of things. I bought some Murano glass earrings, and might go back for some gorgeous scarves.
I then walked all the way to the other side of the downtown to the Ponte Vecchio. Almost all the stores on the bridge are jewellers. Apparently, a long time ago, the Arno River flooded, and all the jewellery was washed into the river, giving it the name River of Gold.
I then walked to the Uffizi to book my ticket for tomorrow. I'm very glad I did, since the line up to get in was very very very long.
I walked a lot today, most of it just wandering about, seeing the city. I took a little break for a cafe latte at this restaurant. It was more expensive than I would have liked, but the view was very good. You also can't beat history, this place has existed as a cafe since 1847.
Not to mention of course, that this is what I had to look at while I was sipping my coffee!
There is a post office under the arches, where I found more of my favorite post boxes. The ones in Italy have separate slots for local and international mail.
The arches also hold more of the covered stalls that can be found everywhere in Florence.
While I was walking about I mostly had no idea where I was going, nor any real destination. I had a map, and a decent sense of direction, so no worries about getting lost. Every once in a while I would turn a corner and find that I knew where I was, remembering something from when I was here 7 years ago. This is the local courts, though the last time I was there there where armed guards hanging around outside. They might have been carrying machine guns, and were kind of scary! However, today there seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary about the building.
Tomorrow is my birthday, and I've been promissed an outing of pizza. Not to mention that I've got my own surprise up my sleeve!