Friday, 28 May: Cinque Terre - Pisa – Firenze

Plan B: A pending Italian train strike had tantalised me to stay another day/night in CT and hike to Portovenere. Sourcing an internet café was challenging but eventually I was informed...No strike... so back to plan A
Plan A: I searched the net for cheap accommodation in Florence and Como and when I was just about to finalise the bookings, the power went off! ....waiting ....waiting ....train to catch ....steps and luggage to negotiate before returning my key → Decision = forget booking....catch train. I honestly don’t know how I safely negotiated the narrow stone steps and the grateful I am fit and strong....phew!!! ..... But I hope that one day I will return to complete my explorations!

Thankfully I had dropped my plans to look around Pisa I arrived in Florence .... spent a frustrating hour in the internet centre .... booked accommodation for Florence and Como ... dumped my luggage after taking the scenic route along every cobbled street between the station and my hotel .... and headed off to make the most of what little time I had there. Straight on the Hop On, Hop Off tour bus, Gelato in hand as this charming city and its history unfolded...So much history and culture, so many churches and Piazzas with no time to really explore them...however, seeing them was a bonus!
I bought a book on Florence and intend reading about some of the sites I saw:
 The Cathedral of Florence set in the Piazza Duomo: (my favourite) dedicated to Santa Maria del Fiore and is the result of the commitment of a large number of artists who worked on it over a period of centuries. It is made from marble and houses many works of fine art. The main areas include:
: Brunelleschi’s eight-sided dome and its mosaic interior
:The 19th Century facade
:Giotto’s campanile = The cathedral bell tower.
:The Baptistery of St Givanno an octagonal structure which stands proudly at the front of The Cathedral in the Piazza Sant Givanni
 The Church of Santa Croce = Neo-Gothic facade
 Ponte Vecchio = The city’s oldest bridge with the Vasari Corridor above it. This corridor is filled with functioning workshops of artisan Goldsmiths. The bridge spans the Fiume Arno, the river around which Florence was built.
 Church of Santa Maria Novella positioned near the central station....another intricate facade at its front and a distinctive tower.
 Church of San Lorenzo = an imposing building which I discovered on my walk to back to my hotel. I think I missed it earlier in the day because its Piazza was filled with markets and crowds of people whom I had to negotiate as I dragged my bag behind me....can’t believe I missed it because it covered a huge area and is extremely high!!
 Palazo Piffi = a city palace of 1457. 205 mtrs long, 36 mtrs high: a facade of rusticated ashlars (rectangular arched windows) and 2mtr length, rectangular blocks.
 Panoramic view from Piazzale enormous terrace high above the city and from which the view extensive and informative. This was reached by driving along 6kms of a peaceful, tree lined avenue = Viale Dei Colli.

** Capturing the view and statue on my camera, I managed to miss the departure of the last tour bus for the caught the town bus back down to the Central least I knew where that was!
I discovered a Bar on the edge of Piazza Lorenzo, filled with Italians (I thought this was a good sign!)...€8 = All you can eat from the antipasto bar and a drink...I had the shakes and my legs felt like they were going to falling off! I was so hungry. I realised that I had only eaten 4 of Maryvonne’s specculas (thanks for the emergency supply!) and the Gelato...(and some fruit way back in CT..I think...Was that only this morning??) So......I had certainly got my money’s worth!

I stepped out of the News Café into the fading light as night settled upon discover a very different world....Florence had taken on a very romantic atmosphere which quickly changed to one of festivity, music and dancing. The enchanting music drew me to it, just like The Pied Piper...around Piazza Lorenzi, along the market lined streets to Piazza Duomo and Piazza S. Giovanni...(this was when I discovered The Cathedral..),right into the thick of The Firenze Gelato Festival....These Italians surely love their Gelato!!...Another unexpected, delightful surprise!

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