When I saw that I had two days off that coincided perfectly with my boyfriend’s flight to Bologna, I knew I had to escape the heat of Dubai and come with him on the flight. I booked my ticket less than 2 hours before departure, packed a few things and headed off to the airport. Talk about last minute decisions!
The flight is around 6 hours, and I was well taken care of by the crew, so arrived into Bologna ready to do some exploring.
Since Joe was working the flight, we went to the crew hotel which was a short drive from the airport. From there it was a quick bus journey to the main train station where we purchased our tickets (which I have to say were fairly pricey!) to Florence. It’s a quick 34 minute train ride, if you take the express train with no stops.
Before we knew it, we were stepping out into the beautiful sunny streets of Firenze!
Along with the rest of the world, it seems! If it was already this busy in May, I can’t even imagine how busy it must be in June and July. Nevertheless, we grabbed a map from the tourist information centre and made our way towards the centre of town.
Just stopping to grab a quick espresso along the way for some energy!
It wasn’t long before we turned a corner and spotted the incredible cathedral – the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore.
Construction began in 1296 and was completed in 1436, and what an amazing work of art it is. The basilica is faced with marble panels in various shades of pink, green and white, and the cathedral complex which also includes the Baptistery and Giotto’s Campanile, are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As you can see from the picture, we weren’t the only ones checking out the Duomo!
Since we were fairly short on time having only arrived in Florence late afternoon, Joe and I decided to give the inside a miss. If I had had more time I most definitely would have loved to check out the interior and climb to the top to see the view, so I guess I will just have to come back!
We strolled on through the city, stopping for pictures every few minutes.
I love all of these hand-painted plates and crockery, but the last thing I need is more stuff filling up the already-full kitchen!
Eventually we decided it was time for a drink, and stopped for the Italian tradition of Aperitivo – usually an Aperol Spritz served with some sort of finger food to whet your appetite for dinner. There were plenty of cafes with Aperitivo on offer, so we picked one that had a nice outside terrace with a view, and sat outside in the sunshine.
After our refreshing Aperol Spritz we continued on our walk through the city, heading in the direction of the Ponte Vecchio, a medieval arched bridge over the Arno River.
We strolled hand in hand along the river, and up onto the bridge.
It was super busy and quite windy – I had a Marilyn Monroe moment with my skirt more than a couple of times!
We crossed over the bridge and on to the other side of town, to find somewhere for dinner. With so many lovely looking restaurants it was hard to choose, so we wandered down some little side streets, and stopped instead for a drink in a tiny hole-in-the-wall bar, with just a few seats.
Eventually we decided on a restaurant which was tucked away underground, and we probably wouldn’t have even noticed if it wasn’t for the hostess standing outside with the menu. Turns out it was more than meets the eye, as the rooms were all underground and completely packed! For good reason, as the food was absolutely delicious.
We started with one of my favourite things – creamy burrata on rocket and sun-dried tomatoes, with freshly baked bread, served with chilled jugs of wine.
We both had the same main course, pasta with aubergine, tomato and plenty of cheese. Perfect!
Before we knew it it was time to head back towards the train station to catch the last train back to Bologna. Not without stopping for a final look at the beautiful Duomo, of course., and picking up a new fridge magnet to add to the collection!
Florence is just beautiful, and an afternoon is by no means enough to even scratch the surface of this city. I will definitely be back, let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later!