I made it to Florence today without any hassle - my train ticket didn't allow me to get a seat so I had to stand for the trip but it was less than 2 hours so all was fine. My hostel is actually better than the hotel in Rome - it's this little quaint hotel run by 2 brothers and I don't know, there's something lovely to me about opening up the window shutters like a door rather than the window being opened vertically. Very Tuscan or something - in any case I feel like I'm really in Italy!
The brilliant thing (one of many actually) about Florence is it's so small that everything is within walking distance. So this afternoon I managed to see quite a bit of the town, including the main square with the great Duomo. It's interesting seeing the Renaissance style architecture becuase after the splendid opulence of the churches in the Vatican, they seem quite plain. Of course they're not at all, but I'm not used to seeing bare walls! The outside of the Duomo is by far my favourite exterior to a church.
Here are some pics - the sunlight this afternoon and blue skies made it stunning.
And inside -
I walked to the top of the bell tower right next to it and from there got an amazing view of Florence - here are some of the views.
I also went to the church of St Lorenzo, which originally consecrated by Saint Ambrose in the 4th century AD - the crypt underneath here had some amazing relics of the saints - there was a thumb that kind of freaked me out but at the same time was amazing.
Later on I found myself at one of the leather markets - it was so hard not to buy lots of things. I didn't think I was a huge fan of leather but when it came to the leather bound books - such a temptation!
One of the guys who runs the hostel sat down with me and worked out number to walking routes to see everything so I am looking forward to exploring some more tomorrow. It certainly is nice not to have to take the Metro :)