One thing I’ve learned about travelling is that you have to be open to the unplanned. A friend and I were in Florence, in one of those lovely little alimentari café/delis where they have bowls of delicious things behind glass and you choose a plate, get a glass of wine and have a delicious meal much cheaper than in any touristic restaurant. We must have looked quite flummoxed by the choices because a local who was there doing the same as us offered help. We ended up with plates of great food and also a couple of wonderful tips for things to do in Florence.
One was to go to the church San Miniato al Monte and hear the monks sing their evensong (which we did the next day). The other was that there was a classical music concert in a church around the corner in about an hour’s time. We ate, then headed round the corner and found the church, Santo Stefano al Ponte Vecchio. Although we’d passed the narrow entrance to its courtyard numerous times as it is literally a few yards from the Ponte Vecchio, we had never even noticed this little church squeezed in between buildings, with cars jammed into the small space in front of it.
Tickets were cheap, the church was lovely even if not one of the main tourist meccas full of important paintings, and the music soared into the high ceiling, a program from Orchestra Regionale Toscana.
There are lots of concerts in churches throughout Florence, especially during the summer months, and it makes an excellent evening alternative to lingering in yet another restaurant, sitting in yet another hotel room watching incomprehensible local TV, or wandering the streets amidst the drunk students on tour.