I would probably risk being lambasted for this, but of all the cities we visited in northern and central Italy, Firenze (Florence, in English) was not my favorite. I had high expectations of it, too, being the birthplace of the Renaissance, but after walking around intensely for three days, it seemed pale in comparison to the elegance of Rome, the magic within the medieval walls of Siena, the enchantment of the Tuscan countryside, even the quietness of Orvieto. We found Florence lacking, except in the gelato department, that is. But more on that later.
Lacking what, exactly, I can’t put a finger on it. It’s not art, for sure, because two acclaimed musuems of fine art in the world - the Academia and Uffizi can be found in Florence. Michelangelo and Galileo are resident rockstars and both are buried in Florence. The irony is that at this point, we had fallen into some sort of museum fatigue that we didn't have the fortitude required to stand in line for hours to get in either museum. I purposely did not make reservations to either museum (if we did, there will be no queuing) because I figured that la vita bella, I'm pretty sure, did not include wasting away precious hours in line when you could be at a restaurant sipping lambrusco with your bistecca fiorentina.
It is possible that I had the impression of it being one big tourist trap and to get out, one must cross any of the bridges to get to the other side of Arno where the local pulse can be found. Given that Florence was crowded with tourists, the propensity of inauthentic tourist-centric commerce is heightened and crossing to the other side of Florence was very, very refreshing.
But no matter, we are privileged to have experienced Florence at least once. We arrived at night and it was special to see everything with the night sky in the backdrop.
Favorite Gelateria | La Carraia
Favorite Souvenir | Handmade Paper
Favorite Spot | Across the Arno River, away from the tourist crowds
Not to Miss | Bistecca Fiorentina and the beautiful sunsets
Must-go Epicurean Event | Gelato Festival happens in May. Click here for the details.
Florence Pick: Chiesa Santa Maria Novella
Duomo di Siena is the biggest, grandest building in central Siena, built in the 11th century. The exterior looks mighty impressive, but it is as beautiful, if not more, on the inside. Masterpieces of Michelangelo, Donatello, Bernini and Pisano can be found in the same place it has been for many centuries.