Thursday, June 25th:
The breakfast room at my B&B is located on the 3rd floor. There is one long table where all the guests sit...
and a wonderful view of Piazza Signoria from the window.
I had a plate of fresh fruit, a fried egg (which came with a little pancake), a brioche,some bread, fresh squeezed orange juice and a caffè machiato. Delicious and very filling!! There was also a chocolate cake that many of the other guests enjoyed as well as yogurt. I had an nice chat with some of the guests (a family from Philadelphia, a couple from Canada, and a woman from Sweden).
After breakfast, I headed out to the Piazza Signoria and decided to go inside the Palazzo Vecchio.
I visited this beautiful palace (which also houses the office of the mayor of Florence) during my first visit to Florence. After purchasing my ticket, I inquired about the sign for the Secret Passage tour. This tour cost 2 euro more and was a guided tour for a small group and required a reservation. There was still room left for this tour and I would have one hour to explore the palace before the tour started.
The last time I toured this palace, it was really crowded. I remember being pushed almost into the wall in some of the rooms by other tourists. This time, I arrived before the crowds.
I had a wonderful time exploring the many rooms of the palace, admiring all of the amazing art.
Just as I was about to head back down to meet at the ticket booth for the guided tour, I saw a man wearing an official sash walking briskly into the Room of 500 followed by a mob of people with TV cameras. I later found out that I was there right when the new Mayor of Florence took office. I thought about going back into the room to try to get a photo of this person but I did not want to be late for the tour. I should have gone for the photo though as we ended up waiting for a woman with her two children who arrived late for the tour.
I really enjoyed this secret tour. It was fun walking through the narrow passage ways with stairways that curved. It reminded me a little of climbing a tower. The woman guiding us was full of facts. We went into this room full of paintings on the wall and ceiling.
She went into detail about many of the paintings. Jet lag hit me at this point and I couldn't stop yawning. It was difficult at times to pay attention as my brain was fogging over. I hope she did not think I was bored. Even though I probably missed much of the important facts, I am thrilled that I was able to sign up for this special tour.
Going up into another secret pathway:
After the tour ended, I headed back to Piazza Santa Croce and found Boccadama. I am surprised the woman at the B&B thought I would be able to eat there Wednesday evening during the Calcio Storico event since it is located right next to the area where the stands were set up. I ordered a delicous bruschetta and what I thought was a zucchini and ricotta quiche. It ended up being more of an egg dish. The bruschetta was good and the egg dish was ok. I felt badly for the waiters as I watched two large parties of Americans both bicker about the coperto (cover charge which is part of the bill at restaurants in Italy). The coperto was only 1 euro which is quite cheap. Even though I am sure the waiter recognized my accent as American, I only spoke Italian as I did not want to be associated with the other tables. It must be frustrating providing wonderful service and then having to listen to people complain.
On the way back to my B&B a man commented to me that he loved the way I walked so calmly down the street. I laughed to myself. My slow calm walk was probably due to being stuffed and jet lagged.
When I returned to my B&B, I took a 4 hour nap!
I was still a little groggy when I woke up. I did not want to walk too far and decided to try Il Pannello for dinner, which is located close to my B&B. I ordered my favorite ravioli with butter and sage and fried zucchini flowers. I also had panna cotta with a blackberry sauce for dessert. The waiter was very nice. Great place for a meal.
After dinner, I walked to the Duomo to see it at night...
and then went for a walk over the Ponte Vecchio bridge.