Due to the super fast high speed Italian trains, it only took just over half an hour to get from Bologna to Florence. The train was super swanky too. I’d definitely advise pre-booking tickets online a few weeks beforehand. Not only was the train pretty busy but the prices are a hell of a lot cheaper when you book in advance when compared to buying at the station. It was all super easy to book from the TrenItalia website.
Unfortunately the weather was yet to improve when we arrived in Florence. Last time I’d been here, it had been glorious sunshine and was super hot but the rain clouds were still gathered this time round. It was fair to say Florence hadn’t made a massive impact on me during my first visit. That wasn’t to say I didn’t like it, but it didn’t meet the hype I’d built for it in my head. I enjoyed it more this time round, but something still hasn’t quite clicked with me. I guess it’s all just down to personal taste.
That being said, there was still a sense of awe when I walked down the street and saw the gigantic Duomo again. I’d forgotten just how huge it was. That whole area makes for a great wander and I just couldn’t take my eyes of that dome. If there’s one thing Florence (in fact, Italy as a whole) does well it’s quirky structures and architecture.
And the best place to see those quirky feats of architecture – from the Duomo to the hodge-podge Ponte Vecchio bridge, is to walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo for a panoramic view of the whole city. This was a viewpoint I remembered from my last visit to Florence and although the weather was decidedly shabbier this time, it still made for a great view. The piazzale can be found by turning left after you cross Ponte Vecchio, then just keep following the river until eventually signposts will guide the rest of the way up to the large, open square. It’s not a particularly strenuous walk up (certainly not compared to the Bologna towers anyway) and even on this grey and rainy day, we got cracking views of the whole city.
Looking down on Florence from this height, it struck me just how big the city was. As tourists, we tended to stay just around the Duomo and train station area but from here you could see a sprawling Italian city, going right back to the rolling green hills in the distance. The cities in Italy may not have the modern, high rise skylines of many other big destinations but they do have an authentic charm to them. Even when I saw how vast Florence was from above, it still had a rustic charm about it. It’d have been even more charming if the bloody rain had stopped.