The last few days hurtled by and included a second trip to Florence. Confident with reasonably priced parking arrangements at Empoli railway station and the train ticket purchasing system, we were more relaxed. The journey is speedy, comfortable, and the countryside splashed with red, purple, pink, and yellow wildflowers is easily visible from the top of the double-decker train.

On arrival, we chose another route to walk through the metropolis to see different sights and didn’t go inside Santa Maria Del Fiore as we thought we would, forfeiting it instead for the experience of the Uffizi Palace. Art is a great part of the Florentine culture and my life, so such an outstanding gallery couldn’t be missed.

Even with pre-booking tickets, obtaining them and finding the correct entrance, all of which had enormous queues, was a drama, but worth it.

Situated in the political centre, the magnificent building was originally taken up by the city government in 1560. These days it’s crammed with masterpieces only ever seen in books previously. Photography is allowed for studies and personal use only. The colours and light that appear to radiate from the pictures couldn’t be captured by the lens, but are still beautiful to ponder over. Among the most memorable are those painted by Botticelli, Michelangelo, Giotto, and Barocci, and I adore pieces created with tempera or oil on wood from tens of other artists. Statues line hallways leading to chains of rooms.

The rooftop restaurant, as the name suggests is on the same level as many of Florence’s iconic roofs. In the shade of parasols, with a balmy breeze, and glorious scenery, the location is unforgettable.

Back outside, the Piazza della Signoria is believed to be Florence’s most beautiful square enhanced by its Neptune fountain and other sculptures. Along with the decorative arched Loggia, the areas reminded me of a static stage, steeped in art, history, and folklore waiting to metamorphose.

Although we had arrived earlier than the previous week, we still hadn’t seen everything we planned to but were weary with aching feet. We wended our way along the River Arno towards the station and found ourselves on a less glamourous road.

It was unexpected and pleasant, coming across smaller shops, and the discovery of the world’s oldest apothecary. The entrance is a tunnel-like profusion of petals and fragrances that leads to a chamber of perfumed delights packaged exquisitely. The business is linked to nearby Santa Maria Novella Church and the Dominican monks who experimented with plants and potions centuries ago.

What a fascinating find, and the perfect end to a fabulous day and holiday – our flight back to England was the following day.

Until next time,
Sue. X