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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

" A Different view of Florence { Day 1 : San Lorenzo Market, Dante Aligheri's alley and The Duomo } "



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It's a cliché to say I fell in love with Florence.
Because the moment I step out of the train that fateful morning,
I have nothing but good memories about it.
You know how some cities leave a mark and seem inseparable that
you're hoping to visit it again ?
Well, Florence is one of them for sure.
Even if it's only such a small city and less grandeur -esque than Rome.
I love how things seems to be right in the heart of everything.
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With a handy Trip Advisor app, a few inspired florence-based instagrammers,
plus my reliable Cadogan travel book I bought from a 2nd hand bookstore.
I can say that planning the trip was easy peasy. ^0^

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Day one started slow even if we have arrived earlier than usual.
We left our luggages at the hotel, which was located along the side streets of San Lorenzo Market.
A few walks from the train station to the market.
*I will post that Hotel review in a bit... *


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We meandered through one of the busiest market in Florence.
* Think Mongkok Night market in Hongkong. *
I like this neighborhood despite a few setbacks.
The place is filled with people, there are more food choices here,
apart from your typical Italian cuisine,
there's chinese, indian, turkish, thai and more.
You never ran out of mini-groceries because every nook and cranny has one!
We even spotted one and only one Filipino mini-mart here. * ^0^ *
San Lorenzo market is a haven for shopping addicts especially those in love with
anything leather, but I still find them expensive considering its tawdry quality.

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If there was one thing I was unhappy about Florence, it was our accommodation.
I was hoping we'd get back to the hotel and freshen up first before heading out again.
Sadly, that didn't happen...
So, with my greasy disheveled hair and recycled outfit from the other day,
we were off to see more sights even if I wasn't too keen about it.

Little did we know that it only took us about 3-4 blocks before we saw the Duomo right before our eyes.
It was like a mirage really, we were coming out of an alley, unsure where it's headed.
Normally, we have our handy map to guide us, but instinct led us to this church.

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What a feast !
Despite the misty weather that day,
It was such a stunner that left us dumbfounded for a few minutes.
* note: it was during 9-ish in the morning, so the place wasn't crowded. *


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Note to self: Take as much pictures as you can, every angle counts, can't miss one single corner.
DO : take close up shots of each detail.
MUST : see this during the night. The story is different.

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The Duomo surely made my day ! ^0^

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It was only natural to proceed to Piazza della Signoria.
One of the biggest and beautiful plaza in Florence.
You can say Hi ! to David's replica and the impressive Fountain of Neptune by Ammannati.
Right in front of the plaza is the monumental Palazzo Vecchio.
Entrance to the palace comes with a fee but you can take photos inside, However, the courtyard entrance is Free.

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While a bunch of tourists rounded up the Plaza, it's hard not to capture one's protruding head or flashy colorful coat.
A handful of Gypsy women began lurking the area as well. * begging for money aka pickpocket ALERT*
But that didn't distract us making our way to Ponte Vecchio - Arno River.

very cute Carabinieri uniforms
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Before we got to that area though,
I was busy chatting away with Pepperoni *my travel buddy*,
this time with a map on hand, considering which pathway sounds better.

I was speaking in my mother tongue, so I assumed no one would understand what we're babbling about.
When an old #notmynonni = Nonni * Old lady * came to our rescue.
I think she thought we were lost and wanted to help us.
She said something like: La Ponte Vecchio ? - But it's near here. I'll show you...
I wanted to say: No thanks! We know which way to go, But I don't want to refuse the kindness of a stranger.
So I asked her in broken italian: Dove ? as in *where* - the only Italian phrase I'm familiar with.
Then, she pointed the street at the end.
She began waving her hands, gesturing turn right on the first, then left on the second, straight ahead...
Yes, Italians are a bit crazy when it comes to directions ! ^-^
In Rome, we got lost twice, thanks to their very trusted Carabinieris and our last B&B owner.

When she saw the big question mark on our face,
She said: Here! why don't I just show you instead.

Along the way, she recommended that we should see Dante Aligheri's house first.
Like ducks, we followed her not knowing where she would lead us, until we ended up in a cul-de-sac.
Somewhat worried, crazy scenarios ran my through my head like, maybe this is a set up where a mob of thieves would rob us
and this is their modus operandi.
I watch too many detective series apparently. ^0^
Thankfully, that wasn't the case,
she did take us into Dante Aligheri's Casa and even told us that there's a small oratory nearby
if we like to take a visit.

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I'm not sure if this is the one , but I think I got it wrong.
This murky slate was supposed to represent Dante's silhouette.


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= THE ORATORY =
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= ONE OF THE MANY ALLEYWAYS =
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not sure how it's called. Marble-etched Map I guess
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To strike up an awkward conversation,
I asked if she was staying in this area.

{She said: Yes, every morning, she needs to stop by this local grocery to buy her dairy.

By the way, she said: you two looked very Asian, * hello! if those two chinky eyes aren't that obvious enough! *
Are you Japanese or Chinese ?

How can I say I'm Filipino but also Chinese in a matter of seconds and in Italian ? ... I can't.

So I just said: yes, Chinese.
The Nonni nodded as if confirming and gave us a smile.

She said: Nowadays, a lot of Chinese immigrants are staying and working in this city.
Florence is bombarded with them and as if we're already in China. She meant it as a joke btw.

I couldn't share my sentiments, but instead gave my usual "har-har" small laugh and
said something like: No, Florence is still very much in Italy. ^0^ }

We thanked her for helping us, it isn't everyday you stumbled into a stranger, who is kind enough to show you around.
I found her walking back the alley and into the grocery where the shop owner welcomed her like they haven't seen in ages.
A pity that I haven't got a picture of her, it would have been a good remembrance.

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to be continued...
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