It appears that I've recovered from Daylight Savings and was back to being wide awake at 6 a.m. Ah well, we had nothing really to do except get home today. After another good breakfast (the person who makes the cappuccino would draw a smilie face in cocoa powder on the foam, you have to love that) we had three hours to kill anyway before we had to leave for the airport. So I'd kept a trip up to Piazzale Michelangelolo in my back pocket and today it seemed like a good thing to do to say goodbye to Florence.
It is no easy feat to find a taxi in Florence and it's an even more challenging feat to climb up to Pizzale Michelangelolo after the two weeks of walking and hiking that we've done. It's not allowed to flag a taxi down on the street, and taxi stands are few and far between. After stumbling around a bit trying to find one, I finally found a stand at Piazza Republica. The driver got us up to the Piazzale in about 10 minutes. This piazza overlooks Florence so that you can see the immense beauty of the dome along with the Palazzo Vecchio and its tower and the Ponte Vecchio. All in all a perfect view of the city and a beautiful morning for it.
Getting back wasn't quite so easy. We waited at the taxi stand up there and none showed or slowed as they passed. I used my iPhone and rang the taxi company but no taxis were available. So we did what we know best and walked down. At least it was all downhill and not terribly warm. Conveniently we had to cross the Ponte Vecchio one more time to get back to our hotel. I hadn't stopped thinking about one more bracelet I'd seen last night when DS was buying her necklace. It was a combination of white, yellow, rose and black gold and I was fixated on it. Remembering that my mother would say "you'd be silly if you didn't, I did." It's now part of my jewelry collection.
We picked our luggage up at the hotel and they called a cab for us. It took about a half hour to get to the airport. Florence's airport is actually smaller than Rejkyavic, if that is at all possible. Our first order of business though was to hand in our VAT refund forms. First they had to be stamped by Customs and then we handed them in to the Tax Back desk. What was hilarious though was taking out all the items purchased that we were claiming tax back on (22%, which is significant). The way it works is we charged our items on credit card, and the shop deducts the 22% from what we pay. If we don't submit the VAT forms, that 22% will end up back on our credit cards at some point down the road. Having it taken off on the spot is an attractive sales approach. Giving us a discount for shopping with them multiple times in our 5 days there is an even better one. For the record, I have three bracelets (THREE???), two rings and a pendant. All are in classic Florentine style and with combinations of gold that I cannot find at home. I don't regret the investment, but it was more than I expected to buy. I just didn't want to get home and regret any of it.
Our timing was fortuitous in that a group of Asian students showed up at the customs desk just as we were finished. I would not have wanted to be behind them!!
A quick couple of slices of pizza before our flight and we were off to Zurich for the flight home.