Our third day in Florence was spent mainly on the other side of the Arno river, known as the Oltrarno. After a breakfast of sensible bread and eggs, we made a quick stop for not-so-sensible ice-cream from the gelateria, Carapina. The hubby was well pleased with his cookies n’ cream and nutella combo, whilst I had two of my five a day with grape and green apple. They were all delicious.
In the morning we visited Palazzo Pitti, a Renaissance palace and the largest museum complex in Florence. Located a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio, it was originally the city home of a banker named Luca Pitti before it was bought over by the Medici family and turned into the main residence of the ruling families of Tuscany. The palace comprises several galleries:
- Palatine Gallery – More than 500 paintings reside here, including works by Raphael, Titian, and Rubens. Closed on Mondays.
- Royal Apartments – A suite of 14 rooms housing Medici portraits and lavish, old-school furniture.
- Gallery of Modern Art – Contains art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Closed on Mondays.
- Silver Museum – Houses a collection of priceless silver and works in semi-precious gemstones.
- Porcelain Museum
- Costume Gallery – Contains theatrical costumes from as far back as the 16th century.
- Carriages Museum
Just behind the palace are the Boboli Gardens, a park housing a collection of sculptures from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Both these attractions are included in the Firenze Card, which means entry is paid for when you purchase the card.
About 10 minutes away is a wonderful little gelateria, La Sorbettiera, on Piazza Torquato Tasso. Do yourself a favour and try the Crema Florentine and cheesecake — marvellous! Oh, and the man who runs the place is also pretty easy on the eyes. Check out all the gelaterias that we visited during our trip.
If you happen to be there on a Sunday, like we were, you can pop over to the Dome for Gregorian chants from 5.15pm to 6pm.
Next we hit the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence overlooking the Piazza della Signoria. Good news if you have a Firenze Card, as this is one of the attractions covered, too.
It’s mostly a museum with three courtyards, a massive hall and a small room on the ground floor, whilst the second floor is where you’ll find the Hall of Justice, the Apartment of the Elements, the Chapel of Signoria and the Room of the Lilies.
One of my favourite rooms is the Hall of Geographical Maps, featuring maps from the 16th century — it’s interesting to see what people back then thought the world looked like.
We then got our ice-cream fix at Festival del Gelato — strawberry cheesecake and dark chocolate with chilli! For dinner we ate at Coquinarius, a little place just down the street from our apartment that serves very good food. We shared a starter of pear and cheese ravioli, which was absolutely delicious. For our mains, my vegetarian husband went for the three flans with vegetables, whilst I had the pork with apple sauce. We finished up with a dessert of coffee cheesecake. Mmm mmm mmm!
After dinner we had a nice stroll around the Piazza della Repubblica, a lively square surrounded by historical cafés, the Savoy Hotel and a triumphal arch (pictured above).
Read about the fourth day of our trip in Florence.