More photos posted, so go back & have a look.
After all of the walking & stair climbing, we didn’t break any speed records getting out, but shortly after 11:00, we headed out with a plan for the day: the Mercato Centrale market, home for lunch, climbing to the top of D’Uomo (Leif), a walk to Pilazzo Michelangelo, dinner along the way.
It turns out that the taxis are on an illegal strike, which explains why we had to wait so long when we arrived at the train station, on Wednesday. They don’t make house calls & you can’t flag them down on the street, but they are available at the regular taxi stands. C & C were planning to take a taxi to the airport to pick up their rental car, so our first stop was at a nearby taxi stand to make sure that they could pick one up there the next morning. No problem.
We made an interesting stop on the way to the market: Instituto Degli Innocenti Per L’Assistenza / Chiesa di Santa Maria Degli Innocenti (The Church of the Foundlings Hospital), which was designed by Brunelleschi (1419-1424), who also designed D’Uomo. This is where orphaned or abandoned babies were cared for. We saw photographs of records going back to the 1540’s. Amazing!
The Mercato Centrale Market was just down the street from there. It was a feast for the eyes & the senses! There were countless kiosks set up outside, the majority selling leather clothing, purses, belts, etc. Others sold clothing, jewellery & other trinkets & trash. The market also includes a large building where, on the ground floor, you can buy meat (including tripe, Charlie’s favourite), every kind of offal you could imagine, every kind & shape of bread you’d want to sink your teeth into, cheeses, wines….I can’t remember what else. The 2nd floor was primarily a ‘food court’, with a colourful version of ‘David’. We bought a loaf of cheese bread to take home for lunch, as well as another warmed up bread, ham & cheese treat we ate right away.
Cheryl had made up a pot of delicious pasta soup, so we enjoyed that with the cheese loaf. After lunch, we just took it easy for a while reading, processing photos, but mainly just giving our feet a rest.
I had planned to go to D’Uomo to make the 463 step climb to the cupola at the top, so off I went about 4:45, thinking that I’d get there late in the day & that there would be fewer people. The doors closed at 6:20. After searching out the ticket office, I began the climb about 5:10. The climb to the first landing was a breeze, with nobody coming down, unlike the Bell Tower. At the first ‘landing’, which overlooked the inside of the cathedral, we had to walk around to the opposite side, where the stairs continued. That’s where it got tricky, since the stairwell was narrower, the stairs corkscrewed up & people were coming down. By this time, there were a lot of people going up & we had to stop several times to make way for people coming down. In one sense, that wasn’t a bad thing, because you never really got a chance to get the heart & lungs pumping much; on the other hand, it was closed in & hot! One woman was claustrophobic, which made me wonder why she was there in the first place.
I finally made it to the copula. With all of the people who came down, I was surprised to see so many people still up there, so it was a challenge to get to the outside to get good photos. What a view! I took some quick shots & then started my way down. We had arranged that I would meet the others at 6:00 PM, a short walk from D’Uomo. It was 6:20 when I started down, so I thought it would be a quick trip, since the doors would be closed. Obviously, I was also late &, after an earlier conversation about climbing these towers, I knew that Bonnie would be worried. I think it was in that same conversation that she reminded me that “you’re not that young any more!”. About 6:30, I spotted them sitting at the ‘Lion’, an Irish pub, enjoying a drink, french fries & nachos.
As we were leaving the pub, we stopped to talk to 4 women at the next table. One of them was Swedish, so when Bonnie told her I was Norwegian she started speaking to me in Swedish, which I understood. When I caught up to the others, I told them, “Apparently I can speak Swedish too!”
By this time it was dark, so instead of walking all the way to Piazza Michelangelo, we just walked to the Arno River, where I took a couple of nighttime shots of the river & the Ponte Vecchio.
After that & seeing someone crash their motor scooter, we began retracing our steps and picking out a place for dinner. We chose a trattoria where we could dine al fresco. Charlie had a pasta dish with wild boar. Bonnie had bruschetta & pasta with a chianti sauce. I had tenderloin steak tartar as a starter & Cheryl & I both had a steak dish with a balsamic sauce. We all thoroughly enjoyed our meals. One of the treats for me was that, while the others were drinking wine, I didn’t have to drink water this time. They had non-al beer!! I’m becoming a non-alcholic!
The walk back to the condo took us through a bar area that was really hopping with the younger crowd. It’s a good thing we were going back to make room for them! We arrived back at the condo about 10:30, watched a bit of crime TV, set the alarm for 7:30 to begin preparing for our departure from Florence tomorrow morning, then called it a day.