Yes, Florence is amazing, there's no arguing that fact. Just like any city, it has its good and not so good points, and ordinary and extraordinary sights. I spent this afternoon just wandering around, taking photos of "ordinary" things so you can see behind the scenes, as it were. I'll leave out the street art for now, because I took about 40 pics of the various graffiti and art that adorns the walls in many streets - I'll probably do a piece on that another day when I haven't got much to tell you.
This is going to be a loooonnng post - not much writing but lots of photos.
One of the issues for many of today's cities is rubbish and what to do with it, when people live in close proximity to each other. Florence has one solution that seems to work quite well - communal rubbish receptacles, like this:
There are some for recyclables and some for unsorted rubbish - you just open up the door and drop your bag in, and it drops down under the street where presumably there is some mechanism to carry it away and sort it (I actually imagine there are people down there who have the worst job in the world!). You often see people walking along with small bag of rubbish to drop in these. There are also big bins in a few places, but these things are never too far away from most parts of the central city.
Because the streets are so narrow here, tons of people have motorbikes or scooters to get around easier - and of course they need somewhere to leave them when they're at work:
Or teeny tiny, incy wincy cars:
This photo is just about bigger than the car! It actually has two seats across, believe it or not.
People leave their bicycles just about anywhere...
Which can make the footpaths even narrower than they already are...
So you have to walk on the road alongside the cars...
Bicyclists have it pretty good actually - they're allowed to ride both ways on one way streets. Though I'm not so sure it's a benefit when you consider how narrow the streets are...
But the rough street surfaces are not kind to bicycles:
Sometimes bicycles are used as decoration, in the nicest way...
And speaking of narrow streets, some buses are full size & have big side mirrors, which means you need your wits about you, even when you're walking on the footpath...
Street vendors abound, but I've not seen any regular fruit & vege stalls other than this one on the way to school:
There's a myriad of different shops and stores throughout Florence. This osteria sells a range of goods, and a little alcohol!
8/12 = alcohol!
This glassware store really caught my eye:
I thought the display windows either side of this upmarket accessory store were cute with the bow ties and neck ties displayed in them
There are a lot of designer stores around Florence
And you can design your own flat shoes - only flats!
Here's something you never get in NZ any more, and I love the juxtaposition next to the ATM machine!
The tobacconists don't just sell cigarettes, but the machines are outside the stores for use after hours.
This is an enoteca (wine shop) that also sells a range of different smallgoods - cooked meats, cheese, etc:
This shop owner has some very strong views about the mafia, but I can't make total sense of the translation. It says something about a constitution being destroyed that was written by free women and men, that they are the shame of the Italian mafiosa, and something about a conspiracy.
I can't tell whether the shop owner is pro or con the mafia!
But this is my absolutely favourite shop! It's all on its own in a street that is relatively bare so it really stands out. It's owned by a man called Michele (pronounced meek-e-le: not Michelle, but the Italian version of Michael), and he makes all the wooden items - spoons, chopping boards, more spoons, forks, salad & pasta servers. He also sells a myriad of things that do and don't go together - ornaments, parma ham, bread, fruit, veges - you name it. I had to buy something of course, and he kindly posed for a photo for me:
Inside the door
Michele & his shop. I should have asked him if he puts all that stuff out every morning and brings it in every night - somehow I doubt it!
Italians are very patriotic, and you often see flags on the side of buildings - sometimes it's a hotel, sometimes it isn't
The Italian, European and Florentine flags
There's art of some kind around every corner...
Column with one of the Cossimos atop
Private entry and garden for a gallery
Hotel Art - Spoon - I Eat Earth. Huh? I hear you say... this is an installation that has spoons attached to the front of the building, a large spoon standing in front of the restaurant, and (lower right of the photo) a horizontal spoon that's been made as a seat for contemplating the artist's work.
Church of Orsanmichele
There are a lot of dogs in Florence, but I've only ever seen any with their owners. They're allowed in most shops it seems, including supermarkets and caffes...
They mostly seem to clean up after their dogs, but there is the odd brown sticky "present" around!
Today I saw my first cat in Florence. I was beginning to think that there was some law against them, and there are definitely no wild ones around as far as I know. The cat I saw today was out on its daily walkabout and its owner wasn't far away. They keep their cats inside in the city because it's safer for them, which is nice but I'm not sure the cats understand!
Speaking of animals, there are plenty of rats with wings - er, I mean, pigeons - in the piazzas and all over the buildings. There are plenty in the Piazza Santa Croce just around the corner:
People seem to like them, and the pigeons sure know when they're onto a good thing!
And speaking of pests...
Selfie stick, madam?
And general negative points...
One of the many street beggars
Gorgeous, but imagine if it was clean!
And just for a laugh - you do see some interesting sights. Not sure if this guy was going for the "merman" look that briefly did the rounds!
But all in all, Florence is a beautiful place, warts and all - the good outweighs the bad a thousand to one.
Tomorrow, I'm off on a tour in Chianti for a hike across the countryside, and lunch and wine tasting on a family estate. Should be awesome!