Florence seems to be one of the main tourist destinations in Italy, and yet we never visited during our time there last year. I suppose we tired of tousling with other tourists at ticket offices and down busy streets. And quite frankly, I’d never seen the appeal.
However, with Florence a mere half hour from our (rented) doorstep in Tuscany there was no way we would have missed it this time, and it turned out to be one of my favourite days of our trip. Not just because of all the cute dogs either.
Firenze is truly a city in a league of its own. It must have something to do with all those rich guys who used it as their playground, each building a bigger house, bigger church, bigger statue than the last.
Of course everything centres around the spectacular Duomo, which we admired only from the outside after learning that all the treasures from within were now housed in the Uffizi gallery, so we got to see them later in the afternoon.
The streets were alive with nuns’ habits, just to set the scene.
We went to Accademia museum and saw Michelangelo’s David, which was so much more interesting, so much more impressive than I had expected. They wouldn’t let us take photos inside the museum so we had to make do with this modern interpretation of the man. Just imagine him all grey and marble and you kind of get the idea, right?
After David we met up with our friend Daniela and she gave us a quick personalised tour of Florence, which mostly entailed taking us to a superb theatre/restaurant. Since it was only lunchtime we had to imagine a play where the stage was, but the chefs in the open kitchen put on a great show, as did the friendly server-man at the buffet table. Their dulcet tones as they announced the arrival of each dish were almost as sweet as their sweet sweet plates of food.
Revived, there were more statues to gaze at (from every angle) - not the real ones, mind you. They’re all locked away in museums with entry fees. The plebs get to gaze at replicas.
And I got to gaze longingly at the gardens of Basilica Santa Croce.
And admire its impressive doors:
And its impressive (but restrained, in true Franciscan fashion) roof.
The frescoes are slightly less restrained. Nothing like a gory beheading to keep the faithful in line.
One of the main draw-cards of this church is the fact that it houses the tombs of many famous Italians, like Galileo, Dante and Signore Michelangelo himself, whose anything-but-restrained tomb can be seen in the photo below.
Florence feels very jumbly for such a big city, every building kind of stacked up next to its neighbour without a whole lot of breathing space.
And of course in the big city we can admire our favourite Carabinieri and their superb white accessories. I really want one of those bags. I wonder what they carry in them?
The Ponte Vecchio, which was really just built so the royals could walk from one palace to another without getting their feet wet or - gasp! - fraternising with the common people.
The bridge was once lined with butcher shops, but what with all those tourists with all their money and little demand for fine meat (I speak of others, not ourselves), there are mostly gaudy jeweler shops now. I was blinded by all the glinting gold!
In conclusion, Florence is lovely. There are looooots of Americans (apparently something to do with the forty American universities with campuses here) and tourists galore but I get the feeling that if we’d given it more than a day’s trial Florence would have had many hidden treasures to share with us. Next time, ok?