“The Creator made Italy from designs by Michelangelo.” – Mark Twain
My trip to Italy had the most surprising outcome of all so far. If you have read my post about Rome, then you would have an idea of what I am talking about. To sum it up, I went to Italy fully expecting to fall in love with Rome. I was ready to give my heart and soul, and already envisioned myself biking the streets like Katherine Hepburn did in Roman Holiday. Typical, right?
But what happened in Italy was eye-opening. I came for Rome, but I fell for Florence.
He swooped in like a white in shining armor, after someone broke my heart. I didn’t see it coming.
How did Florence fix my broken heart? Here’s how it happened:
My Florence Top Five
- Love at first sight with the Duomo – Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
It was love at first sight. I remember walking with my friends toward the Duomo and we were chitchatting nonstop about something. I barely paid attention of where we were since we’ve been walking nonstop all morning in Pisa. I cannot remember which street we were on since we were just following the street signs. All I know was that we turned left and I was caught off guard by this breathtaking image of the Duomo. I stopped on my tracks and gasped.
You can say Florence literally took my breath away.
2. The hustle and bustle of Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio or “Old Bridge” is a medieval bridge across the Arno River. It is the oldest bridge in Florence and is one of the few remaining bridges that have houses and shops built upon them. There is also the Corridoio Vasariano, or Corridor Vasari – a passageway that runs above the shops of Ponte Vecchio named after its builder, Giorgio Vasari.
Today, the Ponte Vecchio is a great place for souvenir shopping, as well as buying jewelry. It is a famous destination and so it is always crowded.
3. Piazza della Signoria and its Renaissance men
I love piazzas. I love Renaissance men. Naturally, the Piazza della Signoria made my list. This square is the historical center of Florence government. It is home to a rich history of great triumphs as well as horror. The prominent Palazzo Vecchio (“Old Palace”) that stands majestically with its fortified tower is Florence’s town hall. Now that’s one fancy town hall for sure.
In this piazza, you can surely feel the heart of the Renaissance. From Michelangelo’s replica of The David, to Bandinelli‘s Hercules and Cacus, Ammannati’s Fountain of Neptune, Giambologna’s statue of Duke Cosimo I and Perseus with the head of Medusa by Cellini, to name a few.
The elegant arches of Loggia dei Lanzi beautifully serve as the entrance to the open-air sculpture gallery of antique and Renaissance art.
The Fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannati
Perseus with the head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini
The David by Michelangelo and Hercules and Cacus by Bartolommeo Bandinelli guard the entrance to Palazzo Vecchio.
And that’s me and my smile in front of Palazzo Vecchio.
4. I like the view from the top.
The colors of Florence is beyond romantic. Along with my fascination of rooftops, the combination was perfect. Make sure to look for a good spot to view the whole city. You can also climb up the Duomo for these particular views.
5. Walking in the rain
Take time to wander the streets and hidden alleys. It is one of my favorite things to do. Nothing beats this experience. I took my time and enjoyed walking along Florence’s charming alleys and even though it was raining, I didn’t mind at all! I walked a couple of blocks away from the busy center where it was quieter and with less tourists. That’s where I was able to have a peaceful stroll. I took some photos but I tried my best to put my camera away and just take everything in.
I remember I saw an interesting little entrance to a building and I was intrigued. Of course I walked in. And I’m glad I did. It looked like a little courtyard of an apartment building. Yes, it was a private property but I’m an American tourist and I would deny I saw the sign. That would be my excuse.
And just like that, I fell for Florence.
Ok, take two…
And just like that, I fell for Florence.