Following up from our first few days in Florence (part 1 here), the second half of our stay took us to a few different parks while we explored the Mercato Centrale, Oltrarno and Santo Spirito.
Our mornings continued with an early walk – easy to do when you are awake with jet lag. Coming from the lush rain forest of Vancouver, Tikka was perplexed with the lack of available grass and often gave us a look of ‘you expect me to pee on the street like an animal…?’ A male dog would have jumped right into marking the buildings and spots where dogs came before him but it took Tikka a bit of time and a full morning bladder to finally go with the flow like her Italian counterparts. There are some lovely dog friendly parks in Florence, but not necessarily outside your hotel when you are staying in the thick of the old city and need a pee.
Our ‘go to’ place just 5 min from our hotel was the grass in front of the Santa Maria Novella Train Station. It’s not too glamorous and was a busy area, but it was nicely maintained and everyone is really good about picking up dog poop. It was also a block from the more eye pleasing view of Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, famous for it’s decorative frescoes.
We also visited Piazza della Indipendenza in the San Lorenzo area, which has some nice open areas and a bit of grass and we had a lovely chat with a local lady while Tikka ‘conversed’ with her Dachshunds. This was the first time we were asked the reoccurring question throughout our trip in Italy. ‘Femmina o Maschio?’ Dog park conversations always begins here and I gather it’s from the amount of intact dogs, male and female. No matter the city, this was the icebreaker to chatting with a local on the street or in the park.
A good romp in the park left us with rumbly stomachs so a stop for lunch at the Mercato Centrale close by was a no brainer. This is an amazing dog friendly indoor market with vendors selling everything from apples to zabaglione on the bottom floor during the day and whole top floor is alive with little restaurants serving amazing food well into the evening. Tikka approved as it was a feast for her little eyes being close up and personal to the huge Florentine steaks and freshly caught fish.
You can stop for quick street food or sit down for a longer lunch. We settled on a huge array of salami and cheese, Tikka eyeing the goods across the aisle from under our table. Lunch conversation was all about how incredible it would be if our markets back home in Vancouver were as accessible for dogs. One can hope…
Another fun walk took us along the river, west of the Ponte Amerigo Vespucci. Upper part was a long peaceful path with quite a few dogs casually strolling along with their humans and on the way back we dropped to the bottom part to walk closer to the river. Not as tidy, but a good off leash area.
This side of the river, Oltrarno, is much less crowded, but a must for exploring. We took some time to check out the Santo Spirito area and stopped for drinks in Piazza Santo Spirito under the shadow of the Basilica of the same name. This area was highlighted in a great post from A Girl In Florence and we were glad we took the advice to visit. It is very much a local, artisan area with cheaper drinks and eats and more laid back than the squares around the larger tourist areas. Perfect for a dog to settle in for an afternoon snooze away from the crowds.
On our last morning in Florence we headed out for a good walk in the Santa Croce district before hitting the road. We stumbled across Giardino Alessandro Chelazzi, a cute neighbourhood dog park just a couple blocks south of Piazza dei Ciompi. Not a lot of grass, but a decent size, fenced, shady, and a really fun group of regulars. Very well maintained and there was even a modern statue to honour the canines that frequent this park. Lots of antique shops in the area, so spending a day window shopping in the area wouldn’t be hard to do.
After a decent visit with Tikka’s new friends we wound through the streets to the river and came to Parco Vita, a big green park with lots of shade next to the Ponte Niccolo bridge, right beside the water. A great place to have a really good tear around in the grass and some great views of the Arno River.
Energy depleted and ready for a nap in the car, we headed out of Florence late morning for our lunch date with a winery in Chianti. Wine tasting, full lunch, tour, all with Tikka right there with us… check out our amazing visit to Castello di Verrazzano.