Another fun-filled day in Florence awaits! We began our day with an easy stroll to the Palazzo Vecchio. The artwork in this town just begs to be admired repeatedly. Stop and take everything in. It’s worth the multiple looks as each piece draws you in and seems to capture so much movement and life.
With the morning looking a bit gloomy we continued east toward the Santa Croce church. Having left our umbrellas in the hotel we endured a bit of misty sprinkle but soon found ourselves out of the elements.
One of Florence’s biggest and oldest churches Santa Croce is mostly known as housing the remains of some key notables. From Galileo to Michelanglo to Michiavelli and even a memorial to Dante all lie within.
One thing to note is keep your entry tickets available! Often these sites have more than one museum where you’ll need to show your entry ticket to access. Also, many have multi-site tickets. So don’t lose or misplace your ticket.
From Santa Croce we toured San Michele before reaching the Duomo and Baptistery. A central tourist mecca of Florence this piazza is thriving with tourists, street vendors and tour groups.
The most impressive aspect of the Duomo is its exterior. The scale is also such that obtaining good photos is difficult.
And while massively impressive on the outside, the real gem of this piazza is the Baptistery. The bronze doors facing the Duomo draw crowds but to see the original doors you’ll have to visit the Duomo museum located behind the Duomo. And of course for all of this you need a ticket!
The tickets are sold behind the Baptistery (directly across from the Baptistery entrance) in what looks like a museum entrance. While I believe there is an exhibit here, it’s where you can purchase your combo ticket for the Duomo, Duomo Museum and the Baptistery.
Choosing not to dine on the bodies of sinners we continued north to the Central Market which had been closed yesterday. Another note is to make sure you schedule your days around open/closing times! Seems obvious, but some sites have odd hours (e.g. the Uffizi is open on Sunday yet closed on Monday while the Central Market is closed Sunday yet open on Monday).
One thing I enjoy about Europe is that people seem closer to their food source. Instead of everything sterile and wrapped in cellophane when you purchase a bird you know it was a bird. Okay, so perhaps we Americans don’t want our poultry staring at us. I also asked a local chef (you’ll meet him later today) how often they went to a market. His response was nearly every day. He was appalled to learn that we would go perhaps weekly or heaven forbid less often.
Within the market we sampled local cheese, truffles, and olive oils. Of course purchasing more of the same as we munched on a freshly made sandwich of salami and cheese on flat crusty bread. Simply salami, cheese and bread. Simple and delicious!
From the market we leisurely made our way back to our hotel for a rest break. Tonight the plan is to join a cooking class. I’ve made two “tour” reservations for this trip. The first is a cooking class (Tuscan cooking class and dinner in Florence) while the second is a wine tasting in Rome. Normally I don’t book organized tours, but cooking classes have been highlights in the past.
We met our contact at a piazza just a short stroll from the hotel then joined the rest of the class in a cooking school on the other side of the river. About 16 people were part of the class. We were divided into groups of four each with our own cooking station.
We prepared a four-course meal with an eggplant appetizer, first course with savory crepes, turkey cutlets with mushroom sauce and tiramisu for dessert. While we all took part in the preparation of the meal it was difficult to really absorb everything that was occurring. Some of us would be working on part of the current dish while others would be completing another task so you weren’t able to follow a dish from beginning to end. But, then again this course is really designed for tourists and not really budding chefs.
After everything is prepared, we all descended to a dining room cellar where the wine poured, laughter flowed and we enjoyed the results of our labor.
As the temperatures dropped, our stroll turned more into a hustle and soon we were nestled in our warm hotel room. Tomorrow we’ll head back to Rome where the adventure continues and the forecast warns of colder weather ahead.