As well as lots of delicious cooking, and of course eating, during my recent trip to Tuscany, my host Flavours Holidays included not only a wine tasting trip but also a day out in Florence. After all, it would be a crime to visit this part of Tuscany and not see both the cathedral, Il Duomo di Firenze, and the Ponte Vecchio bridge, iconic symbols of this beautiful city.

 

We set off after breakfast and started our tour with a wander around the Interno Mercato Centrale di San Lorenzo, one of Europe’s biggest indoor food markets; the perfect place to pick up some foodie souvenirs of the trip including dried porcini mushrooms and aged Parmagiano Reggiano.

You’ll find the market on Piazza del Centro, although the entrance is rather obscured by the outdoor market stalls.

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We didn’t buy any of the traditional almond biscuits as we now knew how to make them ourselves!

leather market and Sagrestia Vecchia

The leather market with the Sagrestia Vecchia in the background

From here we walked through the leather market, passed the Sagrestia Vecchia on Piazza San Lorenzo and on to the Piazza San Giovanni and the Battistero di San Giovanni, a stunning building adjacent to the Piazza del Duomo and the beautiful cathedral, The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore commonly known simply as the Duomo.

Florence walking tours self-guided

The stunning facade of Florence’s cathedral decorated in pink, white and green marble

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Il Duomo di Firenze

The queues to go inside the cathedral were stretching around the piazza so we decided against going in and had a gelato instead!

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As is typical in Florence they pile their gelato high! Oh my!

From the Piazza del Duomo we headed down Via del Calzaiuoli and on to the Piazza del Signora for a peak at the replica of Michelangelo’s David. This is the location that the original once stood, before it was moved to the Accademia Gallery in Florence in 1873. It was really great having Franca, our Flavours hostess, with us as she knew exactly where she was going and had lots of interesting anecdotes to tell us about the city.

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A short walk down the Piazzali degli Ufizzi leads to the River Arno for a lovely view of the river in one direction and in the other, Florence’s most famous bridge, the Ponte Vecchio.

Self guided walking tour Florence

The River Arno

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The Ponte Vecchio, Medieval stone bridge

Walking along the river bank we soon reached the bridge itself. The shops that were once butchers are now full of jewelers and art dealers. 

POnte Vecchio shops

Shops line both sides of the Ponte Vecchio, still with the Medieval shutters

Ponte Vecchio view

The view from the Ponte Vecchio

From the bridge we walk up Via Calimali, Piazza della Republica and Via Roma back to the Piazza San Giovani and retrace our steps to the leather market. In an unassuming side street, Canto Della Cella Di Ciardo, we head for Trattoria Palle D’Oro for lunch.

Trattoria

The above photograph of this traditional trattoria was taken earlier in the morning but when we returned at one o’clock inside was jam-packed full of locals and it was lucky that we had reserved a table. A lovely lunch followed with the usual tasty cheese and thinly sliced meats for a starter followed by a choice of pasta and meat dishes.

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Stuffed rabbit at Trattoria Palle D’oro

Florence walking tours self-guided

Piazza del Duomo

After lunch we had about an hour on our own to look around so I headed back to Piazza del Duomo with the intention just to soak up the atmosphere but I noticed the queue to go inside the cathedral was much shorter now and had time to pop inside. The perfect end to a fabulous day – not that it was quite over yet – we still had another cooking lesson to come that evening.

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The exquisite detail above the main entrance of the Duomo.

In contrast, the Gothic interior is rather plain.

In contrast, the vast Gothic interior is rather plain apart from the mosaic on the floor

 

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Vasari’s fresco inside the dome itself, begun in 1572, but completed by his student, Federico Zuccaro in 1579.

Florence walking tour - The Last Judgement detail of the dome's fresco.

The Last Judgement detail of the dome’s fresco.

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From the famous food market to the Ponte Vecchio Bridge, join me on a walking tour of Florence, Italy


Thank you to Flavours Holidays for inviting me on this culinary short break. As always I am free to write whatever I wish and will always give you my unbiased, honest opinion.

 

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