Thursday, February 5, 2015

#TBT: Florence, I Love You

Florence. Firenze. No matter what you call it, it is a beautiful city out of the Renaissance, unceremoniously dropped in the twenty first century. The Florentines seem to take pride in their compact city and their rich heritage, and I can’t say that I blame them.

After being in a sprawling metropolis like Rome, Florence was a refreshing change. There was no real need to use public transportation because I could walk just about anywhere (and there was no cobblestone!).  I was also struck by the fact that Florence smelled of leather. Everywhere I went, there was a subtle musk in the air.


Don’t be afraid to barter in the markets. My favorite market while I was in Florence was Mercato Nuovo, home to Porcellino (the statue). I made several trips to that particular market during my time in the city and purchased most of my souvenirs there. The vendors expect you to barter, so do it. You’ll be surprised how much you might end up saving at the end of the day.

Reserve your ticket to the Accademia online and try to go first thing in the morning. You’ll avoid the lines and get a chance to be up-close and personal with David. Trust me—he’s worth it.

Buy gold from a shop on the Ponte Vecchio (if you have the funds). I saved up for this particular purchase and considered it a splurge, but I know that I’ll have my 18 carat gold necklace for lifetime. If you don’t feel like spending that sort of money, you’ll still get some impressive shots of the Arno from the bridge.

In Florence, life and art are one in the same. The Uffizi and the Accademia are two galleries that you can’t miss! The Uffizi is home to the statues of Perseus and The Rape of the Sabine Women as well as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and La Primavera. The walls and corridors are packed with artwork so it can be a bit of a sensory overload—I never knew where to look next! The Accademia is not as impressive in size but where else can you see Michelangelo’s David or the Unfinished Slaves?

Even when you’re not in the galleries though, artists set up shop all over the piazzas to sell their watercolors, sketches, and paintings.


The major basilica in Florence is Il Duomo, which you can see from just about anywhere in the city. It’s another 500 step hike to the top and perhaps even more claustrophobic than St. Peter’s Basilica, but it’s a fantastic photo-op for the fearless! All my warnings for St. Peter’s Basilica apply here too!


Being from the US, I’m not accustomed to food markets or the quality of food that I think Europeans take for granted. Sure, there are farmer’s markets here that you can go to but, on the whole, grocery shopping is done at a supermarket chain and your meats come from Styrofoam containers wrapped in plastic.

I woke up extra early one morning just to see how the other half lived and visit Mercato Centrale. Unfortunately, I got there before many for the stalls were open, but I still found myself incredibly jealous of the freshness of the Florentine’s food. The fish looked like they’d been swimming around only moments before and the produce was as God intended it with all its natural imperfections and juiciness. Did I mention the hand-cut pasta? It’s making me hungry just thinking about it...