It was with heavy hearts that we farewelled our hosts at Manuel’s Guesthouse on Tuesday 3 September and boarded the first of a series of trains to Florence.
We had a short stopover in Pisa and made a quick return trip to its architectural project gone terribly wrong for a few ‘leaning tower’ photos amidst a steady stream of tourists.
We arrived in Florence late afternoon and dragged our cases along uneven streets and past innumerable designer stores, leather outlets and trattorias to our perfectly situated B&B in the centre of the city. Tired from our day of travel we purchased a simple dinner at the downstairs supermarket and settled in for an early night.
We awoke to the sound of church bells the following morning and enjoyed a quick breakfast in the communal kitchen before setting out to explore the city. Highlights included a copy of Michelangelo’s David outside Palazzo Vecchio, the 14th century Ponte Vecchio and the lavishly decorated rooms and royal apartments of Palazzo Pitti.
In the afternoon we climbed up hundreds of steps to Piazzale Michelangelo and were rewarded with breathtaking views of the sun kissed city and surrounding countryside.
On Thursday we sampled pecorino cheese and salami at the central market, viewed working models of Leonardo da Vinci’s inspirational machines at a dedicated museum and strolled around Florence’s gothic Duomo.
In the afternoon we took a bus through beautiful Tuscan countryside, olive groves and vineyards to hilltop San Gimignano. We pulled our bags along bumpy cobblestone streets in the centro storico (historical centre) and (eventually) stumbled across our picture perfect guesthouse, complete with garden and rooftop terraces. We dressed up for date night along via San Matteo and shared a bottle of Chianti (the local tipple), bruschetta, gnocchi and salad for dinner.