Which Way Franca - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

Which way Franca?

Early Morning

Refreshed from a good night’s sofa-sleep at a friend of a friends, we woke to an incredibly sunny day. Walking into the city from our great hosts central location took us no time at all, and upon crossing the wide-wide river, we found a cafe, restarted our walking engines with our standard caffeine based fuel of choice. Nope, not Red Bull, but an injection of espresso straight to the heart.

Firenze/Florence’s centre is smaller than most would consider, so our plan to walk & talk through the streets & market squares & piazzas was a to be a casual affair.

We had decided to hold off on the main attractions for now so that we could see the area as a whole before grabbing a local cafe seat to decide which landmark to see & when – Palazzo Vecchio, the Uffizi or the Duomo?

First stop, Ponte Vecchio.

Surprisingly Tourist Free Ponte Vecchio - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

Surprisingly tourist free Ponte Vecchio

Much like the Venetian (Venice’s) Rialto Bridge, you’d expect one of the worlds most recognizable bridges to be cram-packed & bursting at the seams with tourists of every nationality shoving cameras to-and-fro trying to cram every angle in. To our surprise, it was pretty empty.

An Empty Ponte Veccio - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

Just a few early-morning travellers & commuters on their way to work were crossing the river Arno as the shops popped their blinds out & stood in their doors.

I even managed to grab a snap of Franca and some of the shop fronts without jewellery lovers at every window.

Though not lovers of jewellery ourselves, it was quite interesting to see the many types & styles on offer across the bridge, the most interesting aspect (though not at all surprising) was the cost per item – large or small. Rice thin rings at €700, pendants at €1200. There were even some €10000 pieces on display but neither of those I really fancied so my wallet stayed gratefully stashed.

Photos taken, observations made we walk……BOOM

Tourists Attack on Ponte Vecchio - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

TOURISTS EVERYWHERE! Hold onto your hats, ladies & gentlemen (Franca)!

Like the scene from Cameron’s ‘Titanic’ where our stars are carried along a flooded corridor by the waves & growing water level, we became part of the jumble of audioguide touting tourists & got carried momentarily along for the ride – thankfully only as far as the other end of the bridge where we’d soon find ourselves beneath the grand Palazzo Pitti.

Plazzo Pitti - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

Rather unspectacular picture of Palazzo Pitti

Knowing that we’d have to make a later choice of entering the Palazzo Pitti from our ‘List of Things to See’, we only briefly stopped to munch a crunchy apple we picked up from a market & refill our bottles from the perfectly place fontana directly in front.

Before we left, however, I just had to take a picture of this fine specimen of art, craft & grandeur.

Dale the poser - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

Nope, sorry, not me – I meant this guy:

Palazzo Pitti Lion - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

Isn’t he a darling? I love how the lion was used so much throughout Italy & other western cultures to show how powerful each kingdom was & how far their money – sorry, greatness – spread. Even in the south of Italy you’ll find the Venetian lion attached to port buildings or former warehouses.

That picture of the powerful looking creature – me – was taken whilst we devoured our lunch in the courtyard of the Santa Maria del Carmine church on the same south side of the river.

Looking through a window frame - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

Amazing framework

Franca in the Santa Maria del Carmine Church - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

We’d be returning at a later date to view the frescos inside, so there was no need to hang around to much, but the courtyard itself is well aired & open for people to sit & think things over or even much a panino or two.

Whilst we were there though, we did notice a familiar piece that caught our eye.

MeMO advertising video - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

Inside of the information area was a tv showing all of the videos commissioned for the MeMO night that we’d seen our CouchSurfing hosts working on during our stay. It was really surreal to see something we’d personally witness being created just a few days beforehand flashing past our eyes with it’s fantastical musical backdrop. Again, knowing we’d be back to see it all a little later, we head back towards the centre.

Franca Under Firenze’s Arches - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

We also took a moment to rest inside the courtyard of the Palazzo Strozzi where we also saw this spectacular piece as part of the “Americans in Florence” exhibition (ended July 2012)

Inside of the Palazzo Strozzi - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

Inside the Palazzo Strozzi

Eventually we decided upon our plan of action, and it was thus:

  • Walk up the hill towards Piazza Michelangelo & see the sunset
  • Walk back & look for a bite to eat
  • Do the late night tour of the MeMO ‘free-admission’ museums

Beginning The Walk

As someone you may have read previously; I love stairs. Love ‘em. Can’t really explain the particular reason that might be, but all the same, on every occasion if there are stairs to be climbed (or ran on occasion) then climbed they shall be.

Stairs Up to the Piazza Michelangelo - Sunset from the Heights of Florence


Half way up (or there abouts) you can already start to make out the dusk covering the hills in the distance & the sound of panting of someone close by. Turned out to be me. Seems I need to get a bit fitter – anywho, upon reaching the top of the steps you’ll come across a busy road running across you. To the left there is the Piazza Michelangelo & to the right, you can continue walking up towards the Basilica Di San Miniato: a small church atop the crest of the hill.

TIP – Take the stairs, the route is shorter, and when you do, turn right. You’ll thank me for it.

The church is lovely to see, but the greatest advantage is the view. See for yourself.

View from Basilica Di San Miniato - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

*no comment necessary*

As the dusk was cascading down the mountains through the mist & the fog, what little sunlight that remained enriched the whole scene. Even though it may have not been the brightest that the day had seen, I wouldn’t have changed anything.

A tired Franca - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

One tired Franca

A statue - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

This “flashing” statue had me giggling

After taking in the view & sharing some smiles with those few others who’d also made it this far, we took some more pictures & then set off back down through a shaded tree-lined path to the piazza.

Once we finally crossed the busy-busy car park/street that the Piazza Michelangelo has become, there was time for me to practice my role as Robin Hood…

Dale as Robin Hood - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

…catch a photo of the third likeness of ‘The David’ in Florence…

A replica David in the Piazza Michelangelo - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

…and capture a photo of everyone else who’d come to the top to take in the sun setting for themselves…

People sitting on the Piazza Michelangelo Step - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

Free seats for today show

People sitting on the Piazza Michelangelo Step - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

Can you spot yourself?

…where as we stood and took it all in by ourselves.

Sun setting - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

We didn’t stay too long as there was still the MeMO still to see, so we set of towards the centre to meet up with our host who was to join us on the night.

Unfortunately, I’d love to flourish every one of you with pictures from the night as we managed to see five buildings in Florence for free that we’d normally have to spend a fortune to see; two of which were the Palazzo Vecchio & the Museo Bardini – however – we were so wrapped up in the night & told that pictures were not permitted in most locations that we couldn’t take the many pictures that we would have wanted to.

You’ll just have to trust us when we say it was amazing.

However, we do have this one picture that was taken as we went from location to the next as we crossed the Arno, of which Franca is incredibly proud.

Sunset over Florence’s Ponte Vecchio - Sunset from the Heights of Florence

Soon, I promise, we’ll be snapping pictures right, left & centre to get you all the full pictures you deserve. It’ll be like standing next to me. Or like being inside of my backpack with your head popping out the top. Picture it however you like 🙂

Coming soon, photos from Perugia.

Have you seen the sun set from Piazza Michelangelo?