Tuesday, August 27th. Our next stop was Florence.
Villefranche was an easy port to build a do-it-yourself tour. Vieux Nice is a wonderful walk. As is Monaco.
Florence is just as easy to walk on your own. We did elect to use Disney transportation for the “Florence on Your Own” excursion. That way we would not need to worry about getting back and forth “on our own”. From our port at La Spezia, Florence is about a two-hour trip each way.
We were not too sure about the process for boarding our bus but given that we were not tendering, we expected a quick and efficient experience. And it was.
We were asked to gather at the Walt Disney Theatre by 7:45am. Once there, we were given a sticker with our bus number. When the ship was cleared for entry, we were led to our bus.
Gulia was our guide for the bus ride. She gave us an excellent overview of the city and the main attractions. This was very helpful to us as we had not really built out an itinerary for Florence. The only agenda I had created was to find the old bridge and walk the downtown. Gulia provided us with a refined agenda including maps and suggested sites to visit.
The bus stopped at Palace Pitti. This is a museum just south of the river Arnos near Pont Vecchi. From there we walked through the jewellery shops of Pont Vecchi and crossed over to the old town.
Florence is a breathtaking city. In one of the major squares, we decided to take an early lunch at il David, Ristorante Pizzeria. We decided that we must have pizza for lunch in Italy. The weather was wonderful as was the experience of eating outdoors near the many statues outside the Uzzifi Museum and the expansive market square.
After lunch we made our way through the main shopping district that eventually leads out to the Duomo.
My word. What a church. Our guide suggested that the exterior of the cathedral was far more impressive than the interior and that we may not want to wait in line to go inside.
Seeing the line, we agreed with her recommendation.
We spent another hour or so walking through the old downtown and made our way back to Palace Pitti. We queued for tickets to tour the gardens. Short queue and a free ticket for Matthew. A benefit for him being all of 16 years old.
I guess I was expecting a small garden area, perhaps a few acres.
These gardens were huge. We only had about 40 minutes and it was not possible to cover all of the gardens in that amount of time.
We braved the climb up to the top of the gardens and we were rewarded with a panoramic view of Florence. We walked around as much of the garden with the time remaining and then reluctantly made our way back to the group meeting place for 3:15pm.
We were prompt however the bus driver was about 20 minutes late. Fortunately, the bus had some ice cold water and towels.
The gangway back to the ship also offered ice cold water or lemonade. And iced towels. This was true for each port of call.
A nice way to return back to the ship.