The View National Express Autumn 2017 - 73

BENVENUTO ◆

FLORENCE

Making my way down the
country, I traded lagoon for
landscape in the capital
of Tuscany. Green hills
undulated in the distance,
but the city's narrow
streets meant they were
often blocked from view.
Florence is said to be
the birthplace of the
Renaissance and its
architecture does not
disappoint, although I
struggled to get entire
buildings into shot at times.
The Uffizi Gallery
(tickets €7.50), housed
in former government
buildings alongside
the river Arno, was my
first point of call and
a major reason for
visiting Florence.
Its collection was
donated by the infamous
Medici family and there is
a whole room of Botticelli
paintings - including
The Birth of Venus and
Primavera. The building
rivals the artworks for
beauty, with ornate ceiling
frescos and palatial layouts.
The rooftop café offered a
chance to recharge, with
an unremarkable coffee
and sandwich - however,
the striking view over the
rooftops to the cathedral
and hills beyond more
than compensated.
Florence's Duomo
cathedral is memorable
for its red-tiled dome
that contrasts with its

neo-Gothic white, pink
and green stonework. I'd
pre-booked for this so was
able to jump the queue
to admire its relatively
restrained and peaceful
interior decoration - a
complete contrast to
its intricate façade.

THE DUOMO
CATHEDRAL IN
FLORENCE

The high life

This time I didn't want to
miss climbing the cupola,
so took the 463 steps up
- with a few pauses for
breath on the way. It's a
narrow staircase and there
is no lift but, thankfully,
I'm not claustrophobic.
After walking around the
internal dome, I took the
final steps to the tiny
lantern on top, from which
a sea of terracotta tiles
spreads out as the Duomo
is still one of Florence's
tallest buildings.
A few streets north
of the cathedral is the city's
most famous inhabitant:
Michelangelo's David,
who glares down at his

PAVING
T H E WAY
It is said that
all roads lead
to Rome,
but Florence
was actually
the first city
in Europe to
have paved
streets. The
first ones
were built
in 1339.

PORTION SIZE WAS
NOT A PROBLEM
IN FLORENCE

admirers inside the
Galleria dell'Accademia
(tickets €7.50).
Unwilling to spend all
day indoors, I chose to
wander, as there was an
interesting statue, building
or piazza to catch my eye
around every corner.
This meandering
approach took me past
the beautiful Santa Maria
Novella church, opposite
the train station and into
a pedestrianised Piazza
della Repubblica with
its merry-go-round.
Eventually I crossed
the river and entered the
Oltrarno district, which has
far fewer tourist attractions
but more Florentines.
The area is slowly being
revamped with new shops,
eateries and nightspots.
However, that night I
chose to dine at the tiny
Il Vianio - a Guardian
recommendation to the
north-west of the centre
- where my tasty T-bone
steak was presented in
a satisfyingly rustic portion.

73



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The View National Express Autumn 2017

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