Florence (Firenze) Italy
(2006) We heard the advice about not driving in Florence. We quickly found out why! Our scenic drive through the hills of Tuscany quickly turned into a tangled mess of streets. Following a map is very challenging since street signs are difficult to see. After riding around one traffic circle several times, we located our hotel, Soggiorno Gloria. Its central location allowed us to walk to all the must-see sights.
Our first stop was a visit to say hello to David in the Galleria dell' Accademia. Then we walked through the crowded, narrow streets toward the river and found a great restaurant on the Piazza Signoria for dinner. In the morning, we went to the Duomo (Santa Maria del Fiore, built in 1296-1436) to see the world's fourth largest cathedral and climb the 463 steps to the top of the dome to get a close-up view of the frescoe and go outside to enjoy the panoramic views.
As we randomly picked streets to explore, we discovered Mercato Centrale (fish and produce market). I saw too much tripe! I never got my courage enough to try it. After a lunch of gelato, we crossed the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge (1345).
Then it was time to head deeper into Tuscany. We took highway 222, a scenic, twisty road through the mountains, to the Siena area.