Aug 18 SAT – Siena – Villa Galileo – Firenze – Day 1

Today we woke up at 08:40 in Siena.  We had a breakfast with a view.  From the windows we could view the entire city of Siena behind the walls and the city tower. After a round of swim we are currently gathering our thing and planning one more walk to the center.  After that, we are off to Firenze, and we will skip San Gimingiano.


Siena - Contrade Siena - Fox and Boys
There are 17 contrade in Siena and 17 take part in Palio -the horse raise around the main square – Il Campo
This must be the  symbol of Siena on top of the column in front of the Duomo.  Column is more pleasing than the fox with the boys


Back in Boston, I prepared a list of hotels in Excel: 3-5 hotels for each destination point on our itinerary with name, address, price, Trip Advisor rank, and features like parking, breakfast and Wi-Fi. Here is a tip for the next time: do not just list the hotels and restaurants, but mark them on the map or describe a location in a few words.  The more preparations in advance, the less worries on the road.


Siena - Contrade Flags Siena - Faling down
Each Contrada has it own flag.  And you can wear it as a scarf. No hands!  No hands!


We walked back to Siena one more time, made some pictures on the main square.  Overnight they already removed all the sand from ¾ of the circle, and the only remaining part was a stretch in front of the Palace.

Next we climbed one of the streets up and found a Duomo from its back.  One more flight of stairs, and we discovered a huge square with disconnected arches of ancient building.  No sign and no information.  This was the most interesting and quite unique.  Later, I learned that these powerful arches not ruins, but an unfinished wall of planned in XIV century extension of the Duomo that would have more than doubled the size of original church. What an irony: once an important center, now just a dot on the map.


Siena - Duomo - Detail 08-18 Siena-Firenze
It is more interesting to stare at individual detail of the Duomo.  It is filled with characters and stories in stone It is Tuscany.  It is Saturday in August, and we have no problems traveling in the peak season without reservation.  Perfect and unattached to the itinerary.


We tried to return to the car using back streets and Via Roma, but instead we reached different gates, and had to turn back.

Around 14:00 we returned to the car, and started for Florence. This time it was a fast and comfortable drive on a divided highway. And somehow no tolls.  Speed limit only about 70-90 km/h.

Our first point of interest in Florence was house of Galileo.  It is located on the outskirts of Florence.  First, we found Piazalle Galileo with a monument. We thought that we are near, and we parked the car. Instead of Galileo, we found a house (15:06), where Russian composer Tchaikovsky lived on Via di San Leonardo, 64 in 1878.  That was a surprise.  On the plague he is called “immensa pianura russa” – Great Russian plain?  I can’t find an appropriate translation for Italian word “pianura”.  It is not a composer (“compositore”), and it is not a pianist (“pianista”).  Any help from our Italian gurus?


Firenze - Get to Villa Galileo Firenze - Villa Galileo
Villa Galileo is very near the City, but there is nothing to see there.  Everything is closed and bolded down. But still – name is too real for us not visit the place, especially because there is no sales pressure and there is absolutely no one except you – park along the wall surrounding the villa


Four more minutes (15:25), and we found Galileo house in Arcetri (via del Pian dei Giullari 42-46)), but all doors and windows were closed, and we learned that currently property belongs to University, and they open the site as needed.

Close to 16:00 we found a free parking spot on Piazzale Michelangelo, and went down towards the river through a rose garden.  A powerful heat wave goes through entire Europe.  Paris and London see the record-breaking temperatures.  Here in Florence the temperature shooting to 39°C. You can imagine our thoughts concentrated more on finding the shade than on amazing beauty on the environs.


Firenze - Unmistakably Firenze - utility door
Firenze – view from Viale Galileo Galilei.  It is 37°C in Florence today. Even some lamp posts and utility boxes got an elegant entrance doors and embellishments


We found a tricky “underground” exit out of the garden and remembered that is time to eat.  We were the only customers at Enoteca Fuori Porta (Via del Monte alle Croci, 10). Two Greek salads, bread and mineral water goes here to €21.70 (16:44). At 17:00 I bought a plan of Florence (€2.50), and we emerged at Piazza Nicola Demidoff on Arno River (Russian diplomat back in XIX century).

Now we crossed the Arno River and started our exploration of the city.

At 18:14 we paid for the hotel upfront.  First time I used MasterCard here. I underscored this hotel in my list while in Boston.  It has the best combination of price and Trip Advisor rating of 8.9.  We’ve got a nice room with a fridge and strong A/C for €80.  Here we learned that our exchange rate through the card is 1.2707 (3% above market rate). This is much better than the exchange rate on the street – $1.338.


Firenze - Battistero - Porta del Paradiso Firenze - View from Above
Porta del Paradiso – Pictures made as carvings in a shiny metal – may be with large quantities of gold One of the most perfect pictures – Firenze – Italian capital dal 1865 al 1871 (from … to …)


At the front desk we’ve got very detailed instructions on how to get our bags from the car.  Two busses go around the city between Termini and Piazzale Michelangelo.  Bus number 13 goes clockwise, and number 12 goes counter clockwise.

At main train station we jumped on bus 13 at 18:40.  One ticket costs €1.20, and is valid for 90minutes after initial validation.  The only problem was extreme heat.  Paris and London registered 40°C on this day.  We probably had 39°C.  It took us 23 minutes to reach our car, few more minutes to collect our things, and at 19:17 we picked bus 12 back to train station.  It worked out great.

[Written in the room on August 18, 21:05]
We are in Firenze. Hotel Collodi.  Room 403.  We left our car at Piazzale Michelangelo (free parking) and found a hotel according to my notes – with breakfast, Wi-Fi and not far from train station.  Everything is great.


Firenze - Hotel Collodi Firenze - Gates of Paradise
What a luck with hotels.  All the names that prepared using TripAdvisor back at home are paying off now.  We know where to go and what prices to expect. And location is fantastic. Gates of Paradise – North Gates (Firenze – Porta del Paradiso del battistero di Firenze) are captures in prison themselves.  This is an entrance to a place where you first encounter the church establishment before your earn a right to enter the actual church


Many restaurants and businesses are closed for the vacation in August and first days of September.  So we found only one purely vegan place on Via San Gallo, 92 – Dolce Vegan (055 019 5437).  This place is run as an interesting mixture of self-service and some-service.  You order at the counter, and you pickup at the counter, but it is defiantly a restaurant, not a cafeteria.  Everything is about saving and conserving.  This is one of those “green”, “do-good”, eat healthy types of places. Not fancy, but very, very nice and unique place.


Firenze - Clet Studio Firenze - Hotel Collodi - Entrance
CLET Studio – Via dell’Olmo, 8 – Firenze
No business cards – just a piece of an envelope with an address on it.  Very interesting and unusual art.
Another entrance to Paradise.  This time drawn on the wall – stairway on hotel Collodi – returning back after dinner


We paid at 22:37 and walked in the vicinity of Orto Botanico (Botanical Garden) and Università di Firenze (University of Florence) along Via Giorgio la Pira for another hour (23:35).  But in the room I suddenly begun to worry that is it illegal to park overnight on Piazzale Michelangelo, and I couldn’t find any definitive confirmations on the Internet.  As a result I went to bed closer to 1am.

Do not worry.  It is absolutely OK to park a car there for several days.  This is a great feature of Firenze, and makes visiting the city a delight.

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Navigate through the List

  1. Italy 2012 August - Roma, Firenze, Napoli and between (2023/11/24)
  2. Aug 10-11 FRI-SAT - A two-day flight to Rome (2023/11/28)
  3. Aug 12 SUN - First steps in Rome - Pantheon (2023/12/04)
  4. Aug 13 MON - Vatican (2023/12/08)
  5. Aug 14 TUE - Colosseum (2023/12/12)
  6. Aug 15 WED - Getting the car - Starting North - Viterbo (2023/12/16)
  7. Aug 16 THU - Bagnoregio in Lazio, Orvieto in Umbria (2023/12/20)
  8. Aug 17 FRI - Orvieto - Montepulciano - Siena (2023/12/24)
  9. Aug 18 SAT - Siena - Villa Galileo - Firenze - Day 1 (2023/12/28)
  10. Aug 19 SUN - Firenze - Day 2 - Uffizi Gallery (2024/01/04)
  11. Aug 20 MON - Firenze (Day 3) - Collodi (2024/01/08)
  12. Aug 21 TUE - From Pescia to Lucca (2024/01/12)
  13. Aug 22 WED - Lucca (Toscana) - La Spezia (Liguria) (2024/01/16)
  14. Aug 23 THU - Cinque Terra [... in progress ...] (2024/01/20)
  15. Aug 24 FRI - Torre del Lago Puccini - Pisa and Agriturismo (2024/01/24)
  16. Aug 25 SAT - Agriturismo in Pitigliano [... in progress ...] (2024/01/28)
  17. Aug 26 SUN - Road to Napoli [... in progress ...] (2024/02/04)
  18. Aug 27 MON - Napoli - Day 2 [... in progress ...] (2024/02/08)
  19. Aug 28 TUE - From focused Napoli to heavenly Sorrento (2024/02/12)
  20. Aug 29 WED - Capri - Day 1 [... in progress ...] (2024/02/16)
  21. Aug 30 THU - Capri - Day 2 [... in progress ...] (2024/02/20)
  22. Aug 31 FRI - La Dolce Far Niente [... in progress ...] (2024/02/24)
  23. Sep 1 SAT - Mount Vesuvius [... in progress ...] (2024/02/28)
  24. Sep 2 SUN - Last day in Rome [... in progress ...] (2024/03/04)
  25. Sep 3 MON - From Rome back to Boston (2024/03/08)
  26. Italy 2012 - Final Summary - Rules to Adopt and Follow <br> (2024/03/12)

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