The old center of Florence is full not only of wonderful historic places but also of signs which tell the tourist where to go. And yet it is not as simple as it seems. There are lots of little winding streets, turns and twists, arches and shortcuts, columns and wide open spaces, like the one in front of Palazzo Pitti. It seems that you are definitely walking towards the cathedral but then suddenly it disappears from view, to reappear after you take the next turn. Some sought after place may seem a bit difficult to find yet it is actually right in front of your nose. Thus I checked again how to get to Santa Croce, the church which is famous not only as a great architectural monument but also as the last resting place for many famous people. The statue of Dante stands in front of it on your left; the poet’s heart is buried there. So as not to lose my way I chose the simplest route: from Palazzo Vecchio, past the Uffizzi, towards the river; turn left and walk along the embankment seeing the greenery and the lovely mountains in the distance. The old bridge, Ponte Vecchio, stays behind you. When you reach the colossal building of Bibliotheca Nazionale, turn left and left. Visit the little souvenir shops, especially the one which sells Murano glass. The church is to your right, as well as the large square in front of it, the street vendors and the crowds of tourists. When I had my eyeful I turned around and immediately saw the unmistakable tall tower of Palazzo Vecchio in the distance, so I walked towards it along the narrow winding street, watched the restoration repairs ongoing around the Neptune fountain, made a small wave to Donatello’s David and walked on, through the bustle and hustle. The original statue dates back to 1430-40; it is kept in the Bargello Museum, which is itself a fine example of the florentinian architecture.
A short visit to the Disney store left me with a feeling of wonder and awe. There is a huge choice of products for kids of all ages, toys, clothes, shoes, games, all decorated with the familiar figures, from Mickey and Minnie on to the latest prince and princess. If you wish to buy a princess costume prepare to shell out quite a nice sum. If you only want to buy a simple dress or little pants, it will cost you €16-40. All the goods have labels which clearly state ” Made in China”. As the joke goes, these are probably the three most popular words in the world now. Or at least the words which one comes across often. The quality is fine.
This is one of the most attractive features of the flowering city. You see all the cultural places, marvel at the human genius lavishly displayed all around, but you also see the workshops where one can find Pinocchio’s figures in all sizes and see pictures of the little wooden boy with Papa Carlo. Then you can do some window-shopping at Prada and the other designer stores. If you find yourself in this lovely city just let your mind relax and absorb, take lots of pictures, make notes. Or do nothing. Settle down in one of the myriad cafes, sip your drink and enjoy the sights.