There are some cities that fly by in a blur where everything begins to bleed together. Castles, churches, churros… not really churros, though, I just added them for literary affect. Regardless, some cities flash by leaving you slightly dazed on the other side wondering what just happened.
That isn’t really my experience of Florence.
Personally, Florence was the highlight of my short trip to Italy. Granted, I was only in three cities – Rome, Florence, and Milan (for about 6 hours but I’m still including it in my count) – but regardless, Florence was the highlight of the 3 for me.
We spent 2 nights and 1 full day in the city and it was a pretty full day of sights and food but now that I’m on the other side of the trip looking backwards it didn’t feel hurried or too rushed – I’ve been left savoring my experience and can really enjoy the city itself instead of just the historical and cultural sights.
So, we arrived by train Saturday night and hiked from the station to our hostel on the other side of the river. After checking in and locking up our bags we went out to find food.
Something I’ve found in every European city is they have pretty good kabobs so grabbed some and began wandering the city. Small little side streets will suddenly turn into larger streets and Vespa’s will fly past. At times, it felt like there were more streets than there were buildings because the side streets and pathways felt so endless!
We made it to Golden Bridge and paused for a while to listen to the street musicians. I hadn’t realized how sore my feet were so what was initially intended to be a short respite from walking quickly turned into a half hour of sitting on the bridge by the water and listening.
Sunday morning we had the latest start of this trip but quickly realized that life moves at a slightly different speed on Sundays.
That made for the perfect opportunity to sit down and relax over an espresso on the main square and watch the city slowly wake up under the drizzling clouds.
When we began to move again we headed to Uffizi, only to realize there was a 2 hour wait. We decided to come back later and just wandered the city looking in windows and small corner shops. There was a beautiful paper shop that had some amazing hand-made paper items, I nearly bought a few postcards there but sadly my wallet wouldn’t allow me to take any home.
We eventually made our way to the Santa Maria Novella Church to meet up with a free tour. About 20 minutes into the tour what had been a slight drizzle for most of the day turned into a torrential downpour. We hung on to the tour for another 20 minutes trying to stay dry but still hear what the guide was saying about each building but eventually had to call it quits and find a place to eat lunch.
Feeling a little dryer after lunch we ventured back out and were greeted with the sun peeking out from behind heavy clouds. More wandering ensued as we walked from street vendor to street vendor and Courteney got to put her stellar negotiating skills to use just for fun.
The Duomo opened later on Sundays and by the time I was done looking at the same fake-Italian leather purse it was accepting visitors, so we hopped in line to climb the dome.
A good 30 minutes of shuffling later we reached the top!
At this time I remembered how much I’m afraid of heights and tried to keep my hands from shaking too much as I snapped hurried photos on my phone. Beautiful views of Florence and the surrounding areas… just very high up.
We began the half hour shuffle down the dome stopping occasionally to let two-way traffic continue – I’m not entirely sure who thought a cramped corridor between the inner dome and outer dome was room enough for long lines of tourists through was a good idea but I don’t like them very much and must question the logic behind it.
At the bottom we paused for a bit, drank some water, got my hands to stop shaking then headed to Uffizi. We were going to see this museum even if we had to wait the 2 hours!
Amazingly, though, it only took 30 minutes of waiting before we were handed a ticket. We thanked our luck stars that it was a free day (first Sunday of the month!) and began to look around.
So many master painters in one museum! I knew that Florence was considered the birth of the Renaissance but to see a museum chalk full of famous artwork from that era is a completely different thing.
I really wish I could have enjoyed if more but my feet were aching so we only spent an hour or so inside.
From there we sat in a café and re-charged with some caffeine. Feeling a bit better we headed back out and wandered again! This trip has a lot of wandering.
We eventually found a restaurant and I got my first Italian pasta dish!
At our hostel we were informed that there would be a short Italian opera taking place directly below the room we were staying in… apparently the space below our room was a music hall and there were often performances. The whole performance probably last an hour then, after the audience left, the singers ran through a few sections that they had trouble with during the performance. I fell asleep to Italian opera and it was stunning!
Monday was just a simple day of waking up, packing, checking out, and hopping on a train bound for Milan.
Florence was amazing… I wish I could go back so badly! There’s a lot I would love to do like exploring the Boboli Gardens, hiking to Piazzale Michalangelo, maybe seeing the Galleria dell’Accademia, renting bikes or a vespa and exploring the surrounding hills… but I’m content with what I was able to experience in such a short time.
Sadly, I have limited connection at the airport in Milan and the wifi doesn’t have the capacity for me to post pictures for Florence or update those for Rome but I will change this when I get back to Prague.