Today we went out for a massage and cellulite treatment, a.k.a. a bike ride around the cobbled streets of Firenze! As we bumped along, the rear end got a fine ol’ pummelling, the arms and legs got a good shuddering and I think we may even have come close to losing a filling or two, from the teeth chattering corrugations of the cobbles! It was such fun though! Being Sunday, the traffic was practically non-existent, we only had the foot traffic to contend with and there was plenty of that. We dodged and weaved and practised our balance and technique for keeping the bike upright, while proceeding at a virtual standstill. We began along the rIver, which was lovely, through some trees and looking down the peaceful water, with the city stretched out along its banks.
We rode through the narrow streets until we came to the foot of the steps leading up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. We parked and locked the bikes and then set off up the many steps to the top, where a sweeping view of the city awaited. When we reached the top, it was certainly spectacular. The city lay before us, with that beautiful earthy colour palette and we gazed around at the finery of Florence, a city we are growing to love.
It was great that we chose to go to this Piazzale after we had roamed the city for a few days, because we could now recognise many of the places we had seen or visited.
Of course, being the Piazzale Michelangelo, the number one ticket holder for “Team Mich” had to be there. Standing tall, proud and unashamedly exposed, Big Dave was there to oversee both his city and the crowds of admirers who had come to gaze upon it, and him.
We walked down from the main square and found a quiet nook, with some lovely old stone and mosaic benches beside a small stone pond. Either no one had noticed this spot, or they were too busy taking selfies with the view to bother about it, because we had this little corner below the main lookout, all to ourselves, with a lovely view across to the hills and Bardini gardens. We enjoyed our DIY lunch with the view and then set off back down the steps to the bikes.
As we walked down, many of the people coming up were huffing and puffing and there were bodies sitting and lying around, having rest breaks mid-climb. Towards the bottom I saw a lady coming up with a tiny little dot of a girl, who couldn’t have been more than three years old. She was hopping up the steps like a champ.
“Good work,” I said with an accompanying thumbs-up. She was putting some of the prostrate bodies to shame!
From the lookout above, we had seen a building, with a tarnished green roof, that we hadn’t been to, so we set off pedalling to find it. This proved considerably more challenging at ground level! We went along the narrow streets, with the houses either side, dodging the occasional car or motor scooter and the pedestrians. We took some wrong turns, did some u-turns, consulted the map, consulted the map again, went around the same street a couple of times, took a right, then a left and eventually found it. It was beautiful when we saw it from below. A grand, 19th century synagogue, practically a “new build” in this ancient city, but it was beautiful. There was an armed soldier on guard outside, so we hoped we wouldn’t get into trouble by taking a photo. We waited until he ducked into his little nook, then took the snap, just to be on the safe side!
Back along the narrow streets we pedalled and along the cobbles we bumped.
“This is so cool,” I said to Steve. It was just fun and a totally delightful experience, to ride through those historic streets, looking at the old houses and buildings so close beside us, with the ancient street lamps and worn and broken cobbles below our wheels. It was a memorable ride. I don’t know about all roads leading to Rome, but in Firenze all roads seem to lead to the Duomo, because we soon saw it, down the end of a street, in front of us. We were back in the centre of town, so we did some more pedalling around, just riding wherever we felt like it, down a street here, up a lane there, until it was time to start heading back to our little apartment.
When we returned, I made use of the kitchen again, by whipping up another batch of comfort food in the form of a plate of Sunday roast veggies, followed by apple crumble and custard. For two people who normally eat salads every day, we’re certainly making use of the warmth and hospitality of an oven! We’ll have to return to salads though I think, or punch a few more holes in the belt and hope for no hills to come this week, because the comfort food has certainly rested comfortably on the waistline!
What a super Sunday. A slow and wonderful day, taking our time to ride around this beautiful city. It came with some bonus prizes – fine weather, spectacular views and a free buttock pummelling, courtesy of the cobbles, something we took for free, that others would pay for as a spa treatment! This fabulous city just continues to deliver in so many ways! What will tomorrow bring? I love that we have given ourselves time to see this city at a pace it deserves. We aren’t rushing, we aren’t trying to cram everything into each day, we are letting the majesty of Firenze reveal itself to us slowly, bit by bit, one gem at a time. We are getting the wow moments, finding the hidden treasures and collecting many golden moments and memories. Perfect. Magic.