Italy, Day 8: Florence Cathedral

As it was our last day in Florence, we wanted to make sure that we visit Florence Cathedral, a UNESCO Heritage Site. We lined up for more than 2 hours before we were able to go inside so it was a battle between boredom and fatigue from standing. When it was finally our turn to go inside, it was somehow underwhelming.

APRIL 19, 2019

As it was our last day in Florence, we wanted to make sure that we visit FLORENCE CATHEDRAL / BASILICA DI SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE, a UNESCO Heritage Site.

We lined up for more than 2 hours before we were able to go inside so it was a battle between boredom and fatigue from standing. When it was finally our turn to go inside, it was somehow underwhelming. Not sure if it was a function of the altar and majority of the front section being off limits for that day… I read up about this cathedral before going in and sad to say, I was not able to see Giorgio Vasari’s frescoes of the Last Judgment.

We were contemplating if we wanted to go up the cupola designed by Burnelleschi but that would require another round of lining up so we took a pass. There was a basement section where the remains of a 7th century church could be seen.

Before going back to our Airbnb to check out, we had Florentine steak and carbonara for lunch from TRATTORIA DALL’OSTE. One order of the steak was good enough for me and my sister to share.

When we got our stuff from the Airbnb, I just had to make a last trip to our favorite gelateria nearby. I got the triple gelato flavors and no regrets!

It was finally time to travel to Milan (via Trenitalia), where we almost got scammed in one of the elevators in the central train station. Good thing we were alert enough to see them trying top open the zipper of our handbag! The same thing happened the next day when we were leaving Milan but a different set of scammers doing it.

Italy, Day 8: Palazzo Vecchio

Initially, we wanted to go to Uffizi but the line was already very long even before its opening hour. We decided to check Palazzo Vecchio and to our delight, there was no line at all. Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and considered to be the city’s main symbol of civil power.

APRIL 19, 2019

Initially, we wanted to go to Uffizi but the line was already very long even before its opening hour. We decided to check PALAZZO VECCHIO and to our delight, there was no line at all.

Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence and considered to be the city’s main symbol of civil power.

There were a lot of Renaissance chambers, paintings, and sculptures to see even with just the first area in Palazzo Vecchio.

In a small corner of the room was Studiolo di Francesco I. There was a sign beside the entrance that access would be momentarily suspended during the Secret Passages tour, and that just made us regret it all the more that we did not know about the tour before going here.

We were able to spot the secret passage entrance that was cleverly hidden with a painting and the key camouflaging the color of the painting’s frame and wall.

The next part of our visit was seeing tons of rooms that were absolutely beautiful and magnificently decorated. We read that some of the rooms were even done by Michelangelo and Donatello.

It took us more than 2 hours to finish going around and in the last part of our visit, we found out that they had an exhibit set up to showcase some of Leonardo da Vinci’s works, letters, and sketches.

The last area we visited was the Hall of Maps, which showcased maps and Mappa Mundi, a 6-foot tall globe from centuries ago.

Italy, Day 7: Fancying Florence

We were supposed to go to Florence Cathedral but their opening hour was different because of Holy Week. We bought tickets instead to Battistero di San Giovanni, which was just across the cathedral.

APRIL 18, 2019

We were supposed to go to Florence Cathedral but their opening hour was different because of Holy Week.

We bought tickets instead to BATTISTERO DI SAN GIOVANNI, which was just across the cathedral. It is deemed to be the oldest religious site in Florence. The architecture was interesting for me because it resembled an octagon. The interior was even more beautiful – from the statues to the golden ceiling artwork.

A visit to a popular museum was next in our itinerary but after almost 3 hours of lining up and still not near the entrance / ticket booth, we gave up and had lunch at McDonald’s. We had a train to catch up for our Chianti winery experience.

After that short but memorable Chianti trip, we went to TRATTORIA ZÀ ZÀ for dinner. Good thing our Airbnb host was able to get us a reservation 2 days before this. I got the risotto with saffron, zucchini, prawns, and truffle; while my sister ordered the risotto with curry and shrimp. Both were really, really delicious but I preferred my order as the better risotto. I don’t think I would be able to eat that same kind of heavenly risotto in PH, sadly.

Italy, Day 6: Back in Florence

Since we were back early in Florence, we visited Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, which was just across the central station. I read articles saying that this is not a top destination in Florence and that saddened me because this church was absolutely beautiful.

APRIL 17, 2019

Since we were back early in Florence, we visited BASILICA DI SANTA MARIA NOVELLA, which was just across the central station. I read articles saying that this is not a top destination in Florence and that saddened me because this church was absolutely beautiful. I’d say the best time to visit would be late afternoon because the sun rays that hit some of the stained glass windows reflected colors on the church’s floor.

There were more artworks and relics in the museum-like rooms outside the church.

Our last stop for the day was PONTE VECCHIO. The golden rays of the sunset gave beautiful, warm colors to the structures around.

We were too lazy to go out for dinner so we just grabbed a sandwich in the café beside our Airbnb building. We also bought homemade gelato from NON SOLO GELATO. What was interesting here was that most of their flavors change everyday so we did not eat the same flavors of gelato each day.

Italy, Day 5: Basilica di Santa Croce

From Naples, we took a 3-hour Trenitalia trip to reach Florence. Since we had time to kill before our Airbnb check-in, we left our luggage in the storage near the central station then headed for Basilica di Santa Croce (€8). The architecture of this church is a fine demonstration of Italian Gothic architecture.

APRIL 16, 2019

From Naples, we took a 3-hour Trenitalia trip to reach Florence. Since we had time to kill before our Airbnb check-in, we left our luggage in the storage near the central station then headed for BASILICA DI SANTA CROCE (€8). The architecture of this church is a fine demonstration of Italian Gothic architecture.

Many famous Italians are buried here such as Galileo Galilei, Dante Alighieri, Michelangelo, and Niccolò Machiavelli.

Niccolò Machiavelli’s monument being restored

After seeing the memorials of these icons, we went to other parts of the church and found more artworks.

We were not sure where to eat lunch afterwards so my sister checked out Google Maps and found this place called SOUL KITCHEN. She ordered carbonara while I got the fried chicken fillet. We set our expectations low because the place was famous as a bar so we were not sure how the food would fare… Man, we were totally blown away by their carbonara! Soul Kitchen had one of the best carbonara ever.

We checked in at our Airbnb and took a bit of a rest then my sister asked me to accompany her to buy a leather belt. She did a thorough research on where to buy authentic Florentine leather belt and she decided to go to Michelangelo’s store.

Initially, we thought his shop was closed that day but apparently the door was just locked. Michelangelo was really nice and talkative while we were there. He even offered that we could hang out the next time we’re back in Florence. My sister is very happy with her purchase plus she got a discount. We also got our tatay a leather wallet. Click here for his official website.

For dinner, we ate at PIZZERIA FIRENZE NOVA, which was just near our Airbnb. I ordered lobster pasta while my sister was spaghetti al ragu. It was okay but our experience was ruined by a rude staff. We were not finished with the parmesan cheese when he removed it from our table while eating. Initially, we thought another table needed it but we saw him place it inside a cabinet. He also kept on looking at our table. Maybe because we did not have any reservation and he wanted to kick us out ASAP?