On flying over the beautiful city of Firenze, I peeked out over the maze of houses and trees, and the checkerboard pattern of the fields in differing shades of green. My excitement was palpable.
We landed just as the rain began to trickle from the sky, and were ushered toward the centre by a speedy taxi. Our hotel sat right on the River Arno, with a view down towards the famous Ponte Vecchio – an even better view awaited us at sunset from the hotel balcony. Where we stayed was the palace of old Austrian Royalty, of which a section has now been converted into one of the most awe-inspiring places I have had the luck of temporarily calling home. We walked along a narrow balcony decorated with geranium pots to a set of French doors, which opened into a cavernous room that echoed as we spoke. Wooden parquetry lined the floor and a large fireplace reached towards the ceiling, upon which a 16th century fresco was the view from our bed.
We headed out as the rain drizzled over us – I rather liked it, as it made the cobblestone streets shine brightly. The imposing presence of the Duomo surprised me as we rounded the corner – the green and white tones glistened when the sun broke through the clouds, and the magnitude of detail that went into this beautiful piece of architecture was nothing less than impressive. But we were on a very important mission, and the Duomo would have to wait – lunch was calling our name.
One of us had been to Florence before, and acted as navigator through the bendy streets and laneways, to a small, nondescript restaurant. Inside was bustling, and after a brief wait, we were led to our table. Steaks the size of my head were passing by from the kitchen, which was separated from the diners by a long glass pane. Young dark haired Italians joked between themselves as big pots bubbled around them.
After lunch, we went inside the Duomo, where murmuring was shushed by an attendent. I lit a candle on the top tier of a fir tree shaped holder and walked around the expanse, to where the interior of the dome was painted in the brightest of colours.
We had celebratory drinks in the evening on the hotel balcony, happy to be all together and work the furthest thing from our minds. The sun began to fall behing the Florentine bridges as we walked to the other side. A beautiful meal awaited us – fresh bread dipped in oil, a green basil pesto coating perfectly cooked pasta.
Dessert was my first venture into a true Italian gelati – served from beneath steel lids, the flavours hidden away from prying eyes. Chocolate is always a reliable choice, and we happily licked and slurped away while walking the narrow laneways of Florence back to our hotel.