On our final full day in Florence we slept in a bit because we had no official plans. No tickets had been bought, and no set time to be any place. I recommend putting one of these types of days in the middle of your travel agenda. It provides a desirable respite from the overly structured nature of international travel. It can be a perfect shopping day, or day set aside to see some of the lesser known sites.
First thing is still first in the morning - you have to feed the Amanda. So we went to the historic Mercato Centrale to grab some eats. On this day the bottom floor of the market was closed. No huge slabs of meat, no fresh seafood, and no busy vendors selling their wares. The top floor; however, was open to sell prepared meals to the masses. We walked around trying to decipher this and that and finally landed on a charcuterie plate and a flatbread sandwich (of proscuitto and mozzarella and greens). It was great fare, but we were crammed in pretty tight quarters while we ate with the locals. There was even a guy pushing around a cart selling "fresh" mozzarella for 5 euros to add to your meal. It was cute - he had a bell and would ring it, then sound off "Frech Mote-zah-rella!"
After lunch we wanted to see the famed Duomo (which was free), so we waited in the long line with all the other tourists to see the city's religious center and the famed dome built by Brunelleschi.
The Duomo (which my wife affectionately and incorrectly referred to as "the Duermo" on more than a few occasions) was incredible. The painted scenes on the dome were tough to see but still pretty amazing.
After taking in that gem of a church we decided to switch things up a bit and go check out................another church! Our next stop was Santa Croce - the final resting place of Michelangelo Buonarroti.
Walking back to our apartment we had to drop by one final place - the perfect way to end our time in Florence - Neri. Gelateria dei Neri has some interesting flavors, but THE BEST is undoubtedly the Cookies and Cream. If you pair that with, say...the coffee or the cheesecake you pretty much have found heaven on earth. We actually visited Neri the day before, but they had no Cookies and Cream left. So, after Amanda cried tears that only come when your favorite food is out of stock when you have come all this way just to eat it - we vowed to return. Neri pretty much tops the charts of all time favorite ice cream now, and I can't wait to find its rival in our future travels.
Stay tuned for the Rome blog coming up next week (which in the style of most movies these days based on tiny books may require 2 parts)!