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Florence >  Google™ Map Sep 2012+  Florence Coat of Arms

florentia Latin blooming, flourishing. Population - 383,083.

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Sep 2012+

Florence Coat of Arms

'What you going to Florence for? It's a right dump!'

That's two people who have been heard to say that now but both of them buckled under interrogation. What the pair of Interrailing idiots meant by Firenze was actually the area around Florence's main train station but isn't that the case for every other place, even including Cheltenham?

Yes, it's functional but it's not too shabby around the Stazione di Firenze Santa Maria Novella and while it's hardly a dump, this place was dumped on last night.

Some of it was got in Pisa, two and a half inches in a torrential, Tuscan downpour and they're still cleaning up in the piazza of the same name. Not just with the mops but with the double-digit number of €euros for a couple of cappuccinos, admittedly with a tip.

That's just taking the hiss and the thunder's now what SlyBob's faces look like.

  Stazione di Firenze Santa Maria Novella

Your arrival point from and your departure point back to Pisa. Just don't forget to validare that ticket otherwise you'll be clenched all the way trying to translate the phrase...

'Sir, you can clearly see that genuine tickets have been purchased and any failure to validate is a mere oversight. So, any chance of letting that fine go, eh?'

There's some bumbling around the backstreets, which have that Euro-graffitied familiarity, but to where do these bright lights lead? Only Il Duomo or the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore or the cathedral if you'd rather.

Florence - Via dei Banchi
Florence - Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

The 'Birthplace of the Renaissance' they call Florence but that didn't start happening until the 14th century. The cathedral's slightly 'pre' at 1296 arguably kick-starting the movement and like most things, we much prefer their earlier stuff.

The exterior cladding's a bit more modern and that'll be 19th-century modern. If you've ever tiled a bathroom, you'll be nodding in approval at the grouting that extends to the Baptistery and the bell tower.

Florence - Campanile di Giotto

Il Duomo's still the biggest brick dome ever constructed and they'll let you up and inside for the price of three coffees. For those of a wobbly disposition and yes, that'll be the old vertigo, this might not be for you and what's that you ask?

Of course not but not for that reason... the queues were nearly back to the 14th century.

They're big on their big piazzas here and the Piazza della Signoria is home to the 'crenellated', they say, 14th-century Palazzo Vecchio and tower.

Florence - Via Vacchereccia

The square is historically the heart of and the main meeting point in Florence and that still seems to be the case today.

Everybody else in Florence who isn't waiting to go up Il Duomo is here for some reason, rendering the use of this camera redundant.

There's no chance of getting this close to the Loggia dei Lanzi once home to some old, pike-wielding Germans and now home to some old, sword-swinging statues.

Open to the elements from the sides but covered from above, it's not known how many of today's horde could have huddled in here during last night's deluge.

Seems that the crowd in the piazza is due to them giving up on what can be a five-hour queue for the Uffizi, Florence's most famous art gallery-cum-museum and one of the world's, apparently. You're advised to book tickets in advance but a lack of technology and, quite frankly, a lack of interest meant that SlyBob didn't.

There's an old bridge here that's said to be worth a look and they tend to be in and around a river, this one being the Arno, of course.

Florence - River Arno

Central Italy's second best-known river, after the Tiber, is perhaps the most mischevious, bursting its banks in 1966 and drowning more than 100 people in the city centre.

Florence - Ponte Vecchio

The Ponte Vecchio survived that but they're said to be still restoring the mud-covered Michelangelos and it's hoped there's no repeat tomorrow as last night's overflow makes its way down from the Apennines.

That's unlikely since that two-and-a-half inches was nowhere near the 17 or so in 1966. The restorations aren't all Michelangelos, by the way, but thousands of other valuable relics, they say,

As for the bridge, you wouldn't know you're on one since you're surrounded on both sides by souvenir and general, Tuscan knick-knack providers.

Shuffling along, everybody else in Florence who isn't waiting to go up Il Duomo and who isn't hanging around the Uffizi is on here today.

Being south of the river, what's that the guide book is saying? The Palazzo Pitti is a vast, Renaissance palace and yet another art gallery-come-museum.

But, everybody else in Florence who isn't waiting to go up Il Duomo and who isn't hanging around the Uffizi and who isn't on the Ponte Vecchio is queuing to get in here.

There looks to be a garden only option and the Giardino di Boboli is 11 acres worth of ornate, Italian gardens and nudey statues. A walk in the park it is, then, only they're closed. Seems there's been a bit of flooding or something?

Just the afternoon here in one of Europe's most visited cities with most of the photos stolen and not a single sight seen from the inside. Yes, it's a busy, Renaissance theme park with queues to match but you don't have to go on all the rides.

Speaking of which, it's time for that train back to Pisa but isn't the station busy? Everybody else in Florence who isn't waiting to go up Il Duomo and who isn't hanging around the Uffizi and who isn't on the Ponte Vecchio and who isn't queuing for the Palazzo Pitti has the same idea.

  Borgo Antico (Piazza di Santo Spirito)

South of the river and handy for lunch when the gardens are closed.

Florence - Borgo Antico

You'll find it in the Piazza di Santo Spirito next to the church of the same name and mentioned for no other reason than, well, you try finding an empty table at lunchtime in Florence.