Florence is known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, and was the most important city in Europe in the 14th century. Rich in history and political activity, Florence’s organisation, finances, and trade moved Europe out of the Dark Ages. Florence is most famous for its art, monuments and buildings (thank the Medici family for this – they basically ruled Florence and made the city what it was).
Because of its art, buildings, and rich history, Florence is swamped with visitors all the time. Fortunately for us we visited the Santa Maria del Fiori, or the Duomo, when the siesta was on, so it wasn’t as crowded as it usually is. We wandered around the Duomo and climbed 414 steps up the Campanile to see the views over the town. I’ll be honest and confess that the climb made my legs ache and wobble like jelly, however the sprawling views of Florence justified the climb. Visions of Assassin’s Creed popped into my head again.
We also checked out Michelangelo’s earlier work at the Bargello Museum, and of course, we visited David at the Accademia Gallery (and avoided lines by pre-purchasing our tickets).
We walked along the Ponte Vecchio during the day checking out the shops, and again at night time when all the day trippers had left.
Just downstairs from our B&B, there was a popular street stall that sold sandwiches to the locals. I tried a pork and mushroom one, while Mr Ana and my brother braved it out with the local specialty – a tripe sandwich. My grilled pork sandwich was excellent. The pork was smokey and garlicky, the bun crunchy. The mushrooms, however I could have given a miss as they weren’t fresh. But for a few euros, it was a great lunch!
During our wanderings, I came across a few artists working on chalk street art. Although it was a temporary thing, the amount of work and detail the artists put into their chalk art was very impressive.
I stuck to my promise and ate gelato everyday. I read that this particular gelato store was the one to try, so I got two scoops every day!
Florence evokes mixed feelings for different people. Some love Florence and almost swoon from all the art in every corner of the city (aka Florence syndrome), while others dislike the city as it is overtaken by tourists during the day and doesn’t have the small town charm of other towns in Tuscany. For me however, I enjoyed Florence for what it was. A city rich in history and art, once occupied by the great Medici family, a town where Michelangelo produced the most famous sculptures in the world, a town that produces lovely products and prides itself on craftmanship (and sure, there is mass produced stuff as well).