Italy Trip Part 3 : Florence

Day 5 (12th June 2015)

Finally, it's time to talk about Florence. I'm gonna start by saying this is my favourite Italian city for this trip. I really enjoy being in this city despite the weather and crowd, in comparison to Milan and Bologna previously. It's probably my less irritating sunburns, or the amount of gelato I've savoured in 2 days. Whatever it is, I'm just glad I allocated 3 nights to be spent here, my original plan was to spent 3 nights in Milan! (the horror).

Just like every town in Italy, there's a lot of historical place to visit in Florence. What made Florence slightly different was the vibe, a romantic sort of vibe I guess? Something like Paris if you get what I mean. Anyway I won't go on writing an introduction about Florence, Wikipedia probably do a better job than me in this regard, so it's time for the pictures to do the talking.

The city centre is within walking distance from the train station. You know you're on the right path when the cathedral appears in a distance.

On Piazza del Duomo.

Florence Cathedral, or known as Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower).  This cathedral have a very unique design on its exterior, full with artistic marble panels.

Looking up the dome. The cathedral itself is much taller than it seems in pictures.

You can pay 10 EUR for a 24 hour Duomo pass. With this pass you can visit all monuments on the Piazza including the cathedral, Giotto's Bell Tower, Brunelleschi's Dome, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, the Crypt of Santa Reparata and the Opera Museum.

The queue was very long for all the monuments today, so I decide to visit the bell tower first since it have the shortest queue and I wanted some cityscapes for my first day. The rest can wait for tomorrow.

Half way up the tower. Notice the bell on the top.

View from the middle section of the tower.

Almost nearing the top, but it's sufficient enough to get a full view of the city.

I thought I've reach the highest level at this point.....

 ...... not really, there's one more level to go. This is the view from the highest point. Notice the crowd on the dome.

...... not really, there's one more level to go. This is the view from the highest point. Notice the crowd on the dome.

Basilica of Santa Croce and Badia Fiorentina.

Piazza della Repubblica seen from above.

View of the city from another side.

Well... I'm done for today. It's late in the afternoon once I'm back on ground and I wanted to go home for some rest.


Day 6 (13th June 2015)

Woke up later than expected and I'm still feeling tired.  Guessing I'll definitely miss the chance to visit the rest of the monuments, I decide to have a walk around the city centre and try out a few gelateria recommended by my host. I've asked him where's the best gelato in Florence, and he answered "There's no best, you gotta try a few and decide".... alright then.

The crowd.... there's no way I'm gonna queue under that hot sun.

Spending more time at the Piazza.

Now the first gelateria I visited, Grom. 2.50 EUR for a cup of 2 scoops/flavours. I've tried the pistachio and chocolate flavour. Taste great but not the best, still worth to try it out since it's near the Piazza.

Address: Via Del Campanile, 2, 50122 Firenze, Italy

BTW my advice for ordering gelato, always go for the cone option. The cone option cost the same as cup regardless of scoops, even less in some gelateria! Of course it's more worth it unless you absolutely hate eating from a cone. I just realised this on my 3rd day actually....

Next, more walking in the city

Entering Piazza della Repubblica.

A street artist.

Next gelateria, Venchi. Some of you might have heard of this name before, because it's quite well known with several branches across Italy and there's one in London as well. They specialise in gourmet chocolates but their gelato are absolute heaven especially the chocolate variants. There's like 6 to 8 chocolate flavour variants and you have to try them all given the chance. 

3.50 EUR for a cup of 2 scoops/flavours (still ordering cup...). Slightly more expensive but it's very worth it. Remember to try ALL the chocolate variants, don't bother with the fruity flavours.

Address: Piazza del Mercato Nuovo, 18, 50123 Firenze, Italy

From this street just walk straight up and you will reach Ponte Vecchio.

II Porcellino (Piglet), the famous bronze boar statue in Florence. It was said if you put a coin into its jaws and let it flow through the grating, good luck ensures. A rub to the snout then ensures a return to Florence. Look how shiny his snout is.... from all that rubbing.

Look at the crowd crossing the bridge..... this is summer season yeah. At this point I decide to cross the bridge tomorrow, and go for my next gelateria.

Now this is the last gelateria I tried, Marco Ottavanio. This gelateria is ranked Number 1 on TripAdvisor (only 10 poor or terrible reviews out of 1000+), and have a 4.8 (5 star) rating on Google. The reviews don't lie, the gelato taste great and the flavour is intense. The scoop was slightly bigger as well compared to the previous two. I've tried strawberry, peach, cheesecake and a special flavour call Crema del Duca (taste something like lemon cheesecake). Other than Venchi this is the one I'll return the next day.

3 EUR for a cup of 2 scoops/flavours.

Address: Via Matteo Palmieri, 34r, 50122 Firenze, Italy.

Definitely not a looker from the outside, but inside there's hidden treasures.

More strolling on the streets....

I'm surprised to come across a parade. Have no idea what it is about but I knew it's some sporting event judging by the team colours. A check from Google later reveal it's Calcio Fiorentino. An annual traditional sporting event in Florence and held on the 3rd week of June. (Cursor over enlarged picture for description)

Impressive isn't it? There's actually more stuff shown in the parade but I didn't have the chance to get a good shot or the pictures are low quality. 

Next I took a bus to Piazzale Michelangelo for a sunset view of the whole city.

There's like 5 or 6 wedding couples having their wedding pictures taken at this place if I remember correctly. Remember what I said about "a romantic vibe like Paris..." ?

Sunset casts a golden light upon the city... beautiful.

A wider view, showing Arno River and Ponte Vecchio as well.

This marks the end of Day 2 in Florence.


Day 7 (14th June 2015)

My only plan in mind today was to stroll around the city, visit Ponte Vecchio, and eat more gelato. I figured out if I were to visit the monuments in Piazza del Duomo I need to fork out another 10 EUR for the pass, and the queue will definitely not be any better than yesterday, the same goes to every visitor spot. Best spend the money on gelato of course.

On Piazza della Signoria. Here's you'll find lots of Renaissance art and statues. On the left is the "bronze equestrian statue of Cosimo I".

Fountain of Neptune.

Crossing the bridge... crowd is the same as expected.

I've got no pictures to show on the bridge. It's basically just shops on a bridge, most of them jewelries. I took one shot but it's way too underexpose and it doesn't show much of the bridge. A pretty normal walk just as you would cross any normal bridge. The exterior was much more interesting.

It's nearing late afternoon now (I started the day on afternoon), so I head over to the opposite bridge, St Trinity Bridge, to take some sunset shots of Ponte Vecchio and Arno River.

Getting pretty cloudy at this point... was worried it's gonna rain soon.

The clouds slowly cleared as the sky is getting darker.

On the other side where the sun sets.... the clouds really make a difference here.

Closer look on the bridge and interconnecting buildings on the riverside before leaving.

There you have it, Florence in 3 days. I enjoyed everyday despite not being able to visit every historical monuments because of the crowd. I believe it will be better to visit during spring or late summer nearing autumn if you have the chance. 3 days is more than sufficient to cover everything, but I wouldn't mind spending up to 5 days here!

The best gelato from the 3 choices I mentioned above? It's hard to decide really.... Venchi is the most expensive out of the three, but the chocolate flavours are really good and well worth the premium. Grom is the cheapest but I feel doesn't taste that good but still very nice for the price. Marco Ottavanio is in the middle in terms of price but the portion was slightly bigger than the others and it taste absolutely amazing. So in conclusion, TRY ALL OF THEM!

Gear - Sony a7 + Sony FE 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 OSS + Konica Hexanon AR 40mm f1.8

Post processing - Capture One Pro 8