I was up early, one of the first in line to enter the uffizi art gallery, home to Botticelli's Venus de milo and other gorgeous art, mostly religious in theme and Renaissance in style. There were a few caravaggios thrown in the mix, but the most stunning art was by Botticelli, he paints women so beautifully. His artist model was a woman named simonetta, and he was so taken with her she was the model for almost all of his women, she tragically died young of consumption.
The picture is of a palazzo courtyard that has free Internet and a great cafe, at nonpalace prices. I have been exploring the Santa croce area today, there is a Sunday antique market of everything that can be imagined, from old medical equipment to the usual china and silver - but absolutely no bargains, in fact it is all really overpriced considering how many antiquities exist. If I ever want to sell my collection I will bring it to Florence.
The duomo queues were outrageous as it was only open a couple of hours today and all the tour groups arrived at once, so will get up early again tomorrow. I went handbag shopping instead and bought two. I stumbled across Dante alighieri's church and sat down for a while and listened to the beautiful music playing. It is small and dim but still has museum quality art hanging on it's walls.
Lunch changed locations ... The first restaurant was recommended and funky but when I looked at their stock standard menu, almost everything was made from a frozen base. Luckily they took so long to serve me I just walked out to a local Sicilian restaurant and had meatballs cooked between lemon leaves. I have discovered another fantastic food tradition at the posh bars here - aperitif. You buy an aperitif to drink at the bar, you are given a plate of free crudities and there is a self serve smorgusboard of cheese salumi chips olives etc. All for €6 and in a stunning old world bar.
I walked the city and watched people watching people, it's a real art form here but you need a dog to really carry it off. The men come in pairs, either with a very groomed Italian girlfriend with heavy makeup and short dress, or a very groomed guy with perfect hair and sunglasses, dog optional.
I had an amazing dinner, at an organic vegetarian restaurant recommended by my hotel. The restaurants are all a little too touristy in the old town so I crossed the river and went to santo spirito to a local area. Dinner wine the owner made himself, farro and veges, chickpeas and potato salad, coffee creme caramel, no English menus, ordering in Italian, no tourists. Tasted amazing! I have fresh peaches to finish, the squat flat Italian ones.
Life is very good! Going back to my monastic bed (it's tiny and I swear I'm going to fall out but I believe that's the norm here!). I had a king with goose underlay in new York, missing it a little! There's also a pidgeon orgy going on outside my window but I'm hoping the dominant pidgeon has impregated all the girls by now and it might be a bit quieter tonight!