These posts, accompanied by photographs, record our recent stay in Italy. Having thoroughly enjoyed it, we’re sharing our experience. You’ll get the (almost) full story of our travels, activities, and experiences; warts and all, in instalments.
24th September, Monday.
Our first breakfast in the spacious dining room at Hotel Balestri, revealed they offer a full Continental selection as well as bacon, sausage and egg for those in search of traditional English fare. I prefer to eat like the locals, if possible, when overseas. The waiters serve coffee, tea, and toast if required, and the rest is self-service from a sensible array of foods, easily accessed. It’s a pleasant space and a good experience.
Afterwards, we walked along the riverside and then across the Ponte Alle Grazie to the other side to explore the old city and climb the bank for panoramic views of our side of the river.
We walked quiet roads, past a tower under restoration and up the steep, winding curves that led us to the Piazzale Michelangelo, high above the river.
The way passes through parkland and provides ever broader views of the city as the climb progresses. We stopped frequently along the route, gazing at the ever-changing view across the Arno, as the city was revealed.
The Piazza is a large open paved area with statues, some small market stalls, and benches for visitors to rest after that steep climb. Although there were a lot of people up here, the wide, open area allowed us to feel unconfined as we studied the many different groups wandering the square. We met some charming Mexican grandparents with their cute 2-year-old twin girls, who were attracting a lot of attention, and had a brief, friendly chat with them.
A view of the city wall as it climbs the hill.
A pleasant rest with an ice cream on one of the benches, followed. Then more pictures of the city spread below across the river. Very lovely views.
As we were considering which route to use to descend, a young couple from America engaged in conversation with us. We learned of the best route down from their experience, which enabled us to descend in comfort whilst seeing more of this beautiful place.
There’s a Rose Garden, with some sculptures, on the way back down and we paused there for a while as I tried to get a picture using one of the sculptures as a frame.
The route back down took us past older residential properties along winding narrow streets. At the bottom, we wandered along the side of the river (you can’t access the river itself for most of its route through the city, but there are a couple of access points that give visitors a chance to get closer and walk along parts of the riverbank rather than the roads). We found a pleasant trattoria, Pizzaria Dante, and had a light lunch and then wandered the river-side roads a little more before returning to the hotel for a brief siesta.
We dared cross the Ponte Vechio on our way back to the hotel.
The concrete weir that forms a lagoon near the Ponte A Vespucci.
Setting sun as we prepared for dinner.
Dinner was at Ristorante Toto again, where we met a brother and sister from Turkey; the young woman a student of sculpture and the young man studying finance. Both were concerned at the world in general and Erdogan’s restrictive and unjust rule in particular, and we had a long and wide-ranging chat with them over our meals.
Another walk by the river before we settled down for the night after another interesting and fulfilling day.