A weekend in Florence

Saturday 30 May – Monday 1 June – Into the Lion’s … Fountain?

The Lion’s Fountain? I’m in Florence, so it must be something to do with the Medici family surely, or maybe a local answer to the Trevi Fountain in Rome – right?

Sorry, culture vultures. I spent Saturday evening in Florence’s foremost football pub, surrounded by Arsenal and Aston Villa supporters, watching the FA Cup Final. Well done the Gunners, and well done Sarah (whatever your surname is!), for wearing a Villa shirt AND scarf throughout. Even when it was obvious there was no way back for the team. And before we move on, mustn’t forget Caley Thistle’s win over Falkirk in the Scottish Cup – I may be abroad, but there are some things you just don’t want to miss.

The Duomo - too big for my camera

The Duomo – too big for my camera

Street in the Old Town

Street in the Old Town

For the rest of the weekend, I’m a little disappointed the plans to meet up with Rossella Brindani didn’t work out, but if you have more chill time than expected you could be in far, far worse places than Florence. The Duomo is one of those buildings it’s very difficult to photograph, partly because of the buildings clustered around it, and partly because it’s just so big. It’s also very difficult to decide when it looks best – morning sunlight? Late afternoon? Twilight? I kept changing my mind, with the result I have about 20 different photos of essentially the same view and I can’t decide which I prefer…

The weather took a significant turn for the better over the weekend, with the temperature climbing into the 30s. It was good to have a balcony at the hotel – where the proprietor, Silvia, turned out to be a gem. Friendly, knowledgeable and great at background information. Local elections took place while I was there, and I really appreciated having an insider’s view. Tuscany tends towards the centre left politically and there were no surprises this time round: Silvia didn’t vote, for the first time, as a protest.

“It doesn’t make any difference,” she told me. “They invited me to a meeting of people who depend on tourism for a living to find out what could be done to support our businesses, and I went along – but they don’t listen. They never listen.” Heard that one somewhere before?

Highlights included the church of Santa Croce, where Michelangelo and Galileo are both buried – I’d never been there before. I spent quite a bit of time in the park beside the Arno river, walking, reading and listening to music. And of course, I joined queues of people moving around the Palazzo Vecchio and the Piazza della Signoria, under the watchful gaze of Michelangelo’s statue of David. Because it’s art

Big screen at The Lion’s Fountain in Florence – staff and customers second to none!

Big screen at The Lion’s Fountain in Florence – staff and customers second to none!