Part 2 of the series – on to Florence! After a few great days in Paris, we caught a night train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Firenze Santa Maria Novela. The train was loud and the air conditioning was less than stellar, so it made for an interesting trip!

Florence is a much smaller city that one would imagine. Most of the city is within a comfortable walking distance, and amazing monuments like Il Duomo are packed right into the city amongst shops and restaurants. We had a great time walking around and seeing amazing pieces of history like the Ponte Vecchio spanning the Arno River and the statue of David. 

The food was great, as one would expect, however we still tried to grasp the limited fare available for both breakfast and lunch. We were seemingly always hungry until dinner time, when the portions were finally of a decent size! The highlight of the Florence leg for me was having drinks at a small bar directly in front of Il Duomo at night and being amazed that locals can have such casual encounters as after dinner drinks with a world famous monument looming behind them. 

Via Faenza, the street that Hotel Azzi (pronounced Aht-zee) was located on. Our room was much bigger than the one in Paris, but not quite as fancy. Note the first bidet of the trip!

The Piazza Repubblica, with a colorful carousel in front.

The world famous Il Duomo, which is in such a small plaza that I had to take multiple exposures and stitch them together to get the image you see below! It is an extremely ornate building with rich white, red and green mable adorning the outside. It’s places like this that blow your mind when you attempt to think about how buildings like these were constructed.

Cool patterns I found while walking in and around the Piazza del Duomo. 


A replica of the original David. We were not allowed to photograph the original, unfortunately. It was more than could ever be expected, with amazing detail down to the bones in David’s right hand. Much bigger as well, at nearly 20 feet in height. This replica, located in the Piazza de la Signoria was still very well impressive, and I sought to show the texture of the walls behind it in contrast to the smooth marble of David’s body.

The statue of Neptune, also located in the Piazza de la Signoria with the tower of Il Bargello in the distance. Repeating arches at the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, where there is usually a small market set up. Below, a typical Italian breakfast consisting of coffee and sweets, and the main mode of transportation in the small, cramped city. Also, small golden owls on the Ponte Vecchio, which spans the Arno (or Gold) River. 

A shot of the Ponte Vecchio bridge, taken from the nearby Ponte alle Grazie bridge. I waited until right after sundown to make my way over and took three shots from left to right to later stitch together. The threatening clouds were perfect to set the dramatic atmosphere, with the night lights of Florence reflecting in the Arno river. This is one of my favorite shots of the whole trip! You can see a larger version here.

After florence, we were in for a short (1.5 hour) train ride into Rome! The slow pace of Florence would soon be forgotten as Rome has a seemingly endless supply of amazing monuments and history. Photos of that leg coming soon! Here’s a short video of the Italian countryside on the way to Rome to hold you over…