A more leisurely start to my day after my early early morning visit to the Uffizi yesterday. I’d heard great things about the Mercato Centrale from my mum and sister who’d visited Florence a few months ago, so I decided to stroll over there just before lunch.  Its an indoor and outdoor market, with stalls lining the streets surrounding the main building.

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The stalls in the streets are the sort you’d find in any continental city, a mixture of craft, tat and souvenirs. The ground floor indoors is a traditional food market in the main, but it’s the first floor that is the most interesting.  The exterior of the old market hall remains but the interior is now modern stalls selling a huge variety of ready-to-eat food.  The stalls are around the outside of the hall, with a large bar and seating area in the middle.

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At midday the place was already busy with people enjoying pizza, sushi, cold meats, fish – and a fair few were washing it down with wine, beer or cocktails. Never one to shun local traditions, I decided to join them. I selected coniglio fritto (fried rabbit) from one of the stalls and an aperol spritz (obviously) from the main bar. The food was good, the place was buzzing and it’s a great place for people watching.

After that I ambled through the streets of Florence, which is a lovely activity in itself, before eventually crossing the Arno and ending up outside the Pitti Palace. On the first Sunday of every month entry to the museums is free, despite this I only had to queue for around 15 minutes before getting into the palace and the Boboli Gardens behind.

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The central courtyard of the palace was bathed in sunshine and at the rear of this was a fountain surrounded by sculptures. Inside there were some beautiful rooms filled with artwork and sculptures.

To the rear and rising upwards are the Boboli gardens, a peaceful place with many sculptures and fountains, and with wonderful views back towards the palace and over the rooftops of Florence.

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After a brief sojourn back at the apartment it was time for the evenings entertainment, watching Fiorentina play Udinese at the Artemio Franchi stadium, a half an hour walk from the city centre. I met up with some people I’d got chatting to on my first night who were also going to the game and met them in the ground, a rather ramshackle place that’s definitely seen better days. What it does have though is a spectacular location, nestled beneath the hills surrounding Florence, and with the match starting at 6pm the sun went down beneath them as the game progressed.

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The game itself was a rather drab affair but La Viola (Fiorentina play in purple) won 1-0 and there was no shortage of drama and passion in the stands. After the match I returned to the market hall, which was even busier than at lunchtime.  It was a great place to have a final beer and watch the football on the tv’s and the lively conversations on the tables.

And so after a fantastic few days it was time to say Ciao Firenze.  In the morning I head northwards, through Milan to Tirano in the Italian Alps.

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