Goodbye Siena, Tuscan countryside, villa and girls, hello solo adventure and Florence!!! It was love at first sight for Florence, it is Renaissance old, small, full of iconic buildings and the people here look amazing! Must be due to the amazing shops - I am staying on "can't afford anything" street, my pensionne is opposite tiffanys in a small lane. The pensionne is in an old convent, and is run by a gorgeous proud florentine man and his too cute for words Japanese wife. She has mixed in some Japanese zen into the old osterity of the building and the hybrid works. I am a minute walk away from ponte vecchio.
I spent the day orientating myself to Florence, it's sights, it's shops, and walked for miles. I had a cappuchino at gillis cafe, the oldest cafe in Florence, Italian style at the bar. They serve free nibbles at the bar if you order an aperitif - maybe tomorrow. The outside of the duomo is incredibly beautiful, can't wait to see the inside tomorrow. I headed to the covered food market for a highly recommended meal at nerbone - a stall famous for it's roasted meat of the day. The queue was out the door, I had to wait an hour, but it was all worth it once I got my carved to order brisket roll with pesto sauce and meat juices, carafe of red all for €8!!! Melt in the mouth tender.
I walked across the ponte vecchio with a thousand others, and saw the statue surrounded by all the locks (symbolizing eternal love being locked together). The bridge is edged with jewellery shops and has apparently been selling trinklets from the beginning, lucky jewellery doesn't tempt me in the least. Can't say the same for the handbags, the leather goods are mighty fine.
I arrived in Florence just in time for the 2 day gelato festival - it's a competition actually, decided by the most scoops "sold" to customers. You buy your pass €7, which gives you 5 scoops over 2 days from a whole heap of stalls in front of the pitti palace. This afternoon I tried mango sorbet and Iranian pistachio ( with saffron and rosewater).
There is another street festival on that I stumbled across walking home. One of the streets has been closed off for tango dancing and a garden show (all in the same place ). You have people walking their dogs, nonnas hanging out the window, the odd stray motorbike and dancers all in the street with Spanish tango music blaring, fantastic!
I had a simple early dinner, salad and rosemary potatos, and an early night as I have a big museum and art day tomorrow.