Looking at our guidebook, we decided to start our day with a walk as it was a bright, sunny morning. Our walk, starting from the cathedral, crossed the River Arno by the Ponte alle Grazie bridge. This is the next bridge along from Ponte Vecchio and is a perfect location for viewing the old bridge away from the hordes of tourists. Photos taken, the path continues through a rose garden then rises steeply to the Piazzale Michelangelo, a photographer’s paradise. There are stunning views looking out over the city walls of the Duomo and river. The square itself isn’t noteworthy, it’s really a car parking area for the viewpoint, with a few vans selling drinks and souvenirs.
The best views were still to come, from the square we clambered up the steep flight of stone steps to the Basilica de San Miniato al Monte and stood on the church steps a panorama of Florence with the Tuscan hills beyond is there to behold. Remnants of the city walls that once surrounded the city can also be seen.
After resting a little following the steep climb, and taking photos of the beautiful city below, we looked inside the Romanesque church built during the 11th century. The walk from the cathedral took 30 minutes including photo stops, and covered 2.5 km. If the weather is clear, the walk is to be recommended for the spectacular views.
Retracing our steps back down to the city centre, we made our way to the Mercato Centrale on Via dell’Ariento, it’s the main indoor food market in Florence. The exterior of the building wasn’t what I was expecting, lacking in architectural charm, but it makes up for it internally. The stalls are a coruucopia of colour, stall holders taking pride in their displays of cheese, hams, olives, fruit and vegetables. The counters are a feast of colour with pyramids of fresh produce waiting to be sold to locals and photographed by tourists like me. We bought some local cheese, Parma ham, olive bread and fruit and returned to our apartment with the makings of a delicious lunch.
Later, we walked the short distance to the Uffizi Gallery where we joined a lengthy queue which snaked its way around the beautiful old building. We thought we would never reach the entrance, but eventually we did, and were rewarded with the opportunity to view the largest collection of Renaissance art in the world. It would take too long to view the entire collection so we studied the gallery brochure and visited the rooms of particular interest. We stayed in the gallery about three hours but to see everything would take about a day.
Although it would have been interesting to also visit the Galleria dell’Academia which contains Michelangelo’s David we decided to save this for a future visit to Florence.