Apologies for the late post. I was planning to get this all done in about 2 weeks at the most but with moving back to uni and getting a few things sorted out, my schedule hasn’t allowed much time to blog. Once I revert back to hermit mode, then I can divert some of my efforts back here.
Port today was nicer than the Rome one, which was very industrial although Napoli still wins in terms of ‘best port on Italy trip’.
I’m pretty sure I’m putting on quite a bit of weight with these breakfasts now.
Set off at 9ish with our tour guide, who had a tremendous knowledge of the Florentine culture and cuisine of which he spoke very passionately about. He took us to the Piazza del Duomo as our first stop of the day to see the four main monuments. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Duomo (cathedral), Camposanto Monumentale and the Baptistery of St. John.
However, we only had time to go climb up the Tower of Pisa due to the many stops we’d be making today.
After powering through the 296 steps to the top and a short break to catch our breaths, we were rewarded with a fantastic view of Pisa! There are 5 bells at the top and a glass window to look down to the bottom. And the scenery? Well the pictures speak for themselves.
Didn’t go inside the other two as we only bought tickets for the tower. Still outstanding monuments of art though. Even from the outside.
Florence next. On the way, you can really see the landscape start to change. From just flat fields to hills upon hills of olive groves and vineyards.
Just before reaching Florence, the driver gave us a beautiful view of the city from the Piazzale Michelangelo on the hill overlooking the city of Florence.
Once inside, we visited the Uffizi gallery for just over an hour and a half. It is a very big place and there was sooooo much to see. Paintings and sculptures (a lot of them with religious influences) where everywhere and dated back many hundreds of years. It was very packed and it is a shame we can’t take any photos otherwise I would’ve been able to give you a taster of the beautiful artwork inside. For a place like this, you really need the whole day, not a couple of hours to fully appreciate everything.
Really wish we didn’t get this for 2 reasons:
- Lunch was straight after this and I ended up getting a big cup by mistake
- There was apparently a better gelato place nearby which is quite famous with the locals
On the bright side, it’s still very good smooth gelato.
For lunch, we were booked a restaurant that had a wide choice of dishes, sourcing some local figs and porcini mushrooms. However, we decided to go for something that would be easier on the eyes once we had a look at our bank statements. O.O
Duck carpaccio bed of salad with olive oil and sesame seads. Simple and tasty, likewise with the Tuscany salami and prosciutto ham antipasto platter.
Spaghetti Alle Vongole was also appetising. Shame I still found a couple of clam shell fragments that must’ve broken off while cooking but otherwise, still enjoyable.
Had a few quick looks around the outside of the church. I was too exhausted to go inside so decided to wait outside for our friend to have a nose around before heading down the leather alleyway where our guide took us to one of the ‘best’ places in the immediate area.
Bottega Florentina, where the leather is made by Italians that he knows so he can be sure of the authenticity. There are a lot of Moroccan sellers of leather here too so you have to look around to make sure you might not be buying a fake. Not all of them sell fakes, but at least he can be sure with these lot.
After a much appreciated goodbye to our excellent tour-guide, we made haste to our rooms before setting out to dinner in the Manhatten Room, another of the ship’s ‘included-in-the-package’ restaurants that you need not pay for. Yet, when we got there, it turns out the menu is the same as the one for Taste restaurant, the same one that we dined at on our first day. Just in a different setting. Nonetheless, we ordered and our food promptly arrived.
Pork and leek sausage for starters. Meat was nicely seasoned although the wrapped aubergine around it didn’t really add anything significant to the dish. We were served some chickpeas, humous, chopped tomatoes, onions and feta cheese with some oil drizzled around the plate.
No sooner than when they just finished clearing away the starters, the mains were already here, despite the restaurant being quite busy already to begin with. And we aren’t slow eaters either! Lamb shanks, with butternut squash mash and some sort of gravy for mains. Lamb was tender and came off the bone easily, as any lamb shank meat should. Butternut squash mash was a little sweet, which combined with the savoury vegetable gravy worked really well.
Meh. Blue cheese tasted a little sour so I decided to leave it at that.
After the meal, we sat at the Shakers Martini Bar for a drink before heading off to bed. Tomorrow we will depart to the port of Cannes and head to Nice and Monaco from there. And no towel animal tonight as my brother quickly destroyed it on our way in. D:
My Youtube – coming soon when I have the ability to upload. My internet is dodgy with youtube videos atm