We caught the train out of Roma Termini, the main train station of Rome, to Florence which was only about an hour and forty minutes on a high speed rail. Located on the Arno River in Tuscany, Florence (Firenze in Italian) is the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance that spread throughout the western world.
After dragging our suitcases to the hotel, which wasn't too far from the train, but cobblestone streets aren't easy to drag suitcases on even if they have wheels. We tried to take Florence a bit slower than Rome and do more meandering. We found a great trattoria for lunch, had some delicious fresh pasta. We wandered around the streets taking in the sights. We stopped several times for a glass of delicious Italian wine.
Arch of Triumph in the Piazza della Repubblica, one of the main squares in Florence and marks the center of the city since Roman times.
every truck in Italy has 3 wheels and is supersmall
Il Duomo (Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore) - The Florentine Gothic duomo was begun in 1296 and consecrated in 1436. The facade dates to the 19th century. Brunelleschi's Dome is a masterpiece of construction.
Arno River from Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge. From the outside the bridge looks as if it were still crowded with the crammed blacksmith and butcher shops of the medieval period, but it's all glittery gold and tourist baubles today. Spared from bombing in WWII, it used to be built of wood but a rebuild in the 1300's made it mostly stone.
We decided to hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo, renowned for its panoramic views of Florence and the Arno valley. Piazzale Michelangelo, dedicated to the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo, has copies of some of his famous works in Florence: the David and the four allegories of the Medici Chapel of San Lorenzo. These copies are made of bronze, while the originals are all in white marble. We earned the views with the uphill hike, but it was so worth it! This is absolutely the most beautiful panoramic view of Florence that can possibly exist. Slender bell towers rise above the sea of terra cotta tiles that cover the roofs of Florence's palazzos. Brunelleschi's legendary dome dominates the skyline making it among the world's most recognizable cities. I could even see the hills of Tuscany in the distance.
We happened across the Piazza della Signora beneath the clock tower! This fantastic square was filled with replicas of famous statues around Italy as well as tons of people enjoying the day. In this plaza, Michelangelo's David was placed. Today, a replica holds the spot and the original was moved indoors to the Academia in 1873 to protect the work
Gelato shops are very prevalent in Italy. Gelato is Italian "ice cream", but is different from American-style ice cream. Ice cream is made from fresh cream, resulting in a butterfat content of between 10 and 30 percent. Gelato, on the other hand, is typically made with milk, and it has a fat content of between 1 and 10 percent. Gelato is not only healthier, but its flavor is easier to taste. The cream in ice cream saturates one’s taste buds; thus, its richness and sweetness prevail. I used the "healthier" excuse to have it daily while in Italy!
Many wealthy families in Italy had their own chapels within beautiful churches. The Medicis of Florence? They had their own whole church.
Florence isn’t that big, but it has the grandeur of such a scale. It’s center is riddled with tourists, but five minutes away you are discovering the hidden treasures the locals pride themselves with. It is a city with class, which manages to not be intimidating and is full of culture and arts. The streets are cobble stoned and full of arches, churches, cafes, amazing restaurants and jaw dropping Piazzas.
“I learned that the richness of life is found in adventure. . . . It develops self-reliance and independence. Life then teems with excitement. There is stagnation only in security.” – William Orville Douglas