The Magic of Florence
January 1, 1970
by Nina Alexieva
This September I visited Florence. Not my first time in Italy, but that was my first time in Tuscany. I personally admire Michelangelo very much. I like the art of Leonardo DaVinchi as well, but somehow Michelangelo is more close to my heart. So I decided to add Florence in my travel itinerary to Italy, as an amazing place of culture, art and history.
There is so much to be seen, and I would recommend to have at least two full days to enjoy it. We stayed 3 nights and had two and half days. I would also recommend to stay in a place in the city centre. We had an apartment in the very centre, 5 min walk from the main train station – so we did not use any bus at all. And you can walk around the main places of interest maybe in 30 min maximum. I would highly recommend staying in the city centre /it also saves money for transport/ and walking to all the places you will choose to visit.
Culture, Art, Slow delicious food
The overall architecture of the city is homogeneous, you don’t see modern part and old part of the town – it is all one in the colours and the shapes from centuries. I love that. It makes it so cosy, and felt as I go to my grandmothers place for visit. The colours of the buildings are also warm and quite in the same tone. I also enjoyed the cobblestone streets, some very small and narrow, and houses with beautiful small balconies – if you look up. Very charming and romantic. And in those places you can find many small restaurants – “trattoria” – which serve such a delicious food in a warm home-stile manner. I really enjoyed it. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the “Slow food” movement started from Italy. I did not know. But on the menu was written – slow food. I think life there in general is more about taking a time to appreciate the meal, the taste, the view – the moment. And this totally fits with me. If you are such person, probably you would also enjoy it.
So imagine, you are there in this beautiful kind of old atmosphere city, had a fresh Italian coffee and you are eating slowly something delicious that melts in your mouth. So where now?
I personally planned the trip few months in advance and booked a guided tour for the first day – to visit the city and have overall look of all the culture and history. And it was great choice – I highly recommend the tours of “The walk of Italy”. We had 3 and half hours tour around the city with explanation and stories about the history, art culture that really made 3000 years of history alive and vivid. I was with my son and what we learned was more interesting that hours of classes in school. Those stories I will never forget. So I really recommend you take a tour with those experience guides, who does not talk from a book – but tells stories.
Additionally you would enter Galleria dell’Accademia (where Michelangelo’David is! ) and the Florence Cathedral Duomo (third biggest in the world) without waiting. And waiting is something you would like to skip. If you have two days in the city and wait from one to three and more hours at least in a two of the many museums and galleries (big queues) – that saves you so much time to see more!
So we saw David and other sculptures of Michelangelo and heard their stories. We saw the cathedral of Florence and the Duomo, also saw some building on which Michelangelo worked, or added some elements. We went to the Piazza della Signoria – a lot to learn and see there also. Than we visited the famous bridge – Ponte Veccio – the only bridge in Florence which was not destroyed during World War 2. I do not want to tell you all what you will see there – but it is magical walk through the ages.
Museums and Cathedral
I think it is really worthwhile to get also the ticket for the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore – this is not opera ! – this is ticket for five different places which are worth to be visited. Each one may take from 40 min to hour or more. But you can book an exact time of visit – so that you do not need to queue. It is worth doing it in two day I would recommend. In between your other activities.
Here you will see: Great Museum of the Duomo: the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with Brunelleschi’s Dome and the crypt of Santa Reparata, the Baptistry of San Giovanni, Giotto’s bell tower and the Historical Museum. In the museum you will see one of the fourth statues of Michelangelo – “Pieta”.
Most famous one and my most favorite is in Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, but this one also is amazing sculpture. To climb Brunelleschi’s Dome as well as to climb to the top of Giotto’s bell tower – just know that there are no elevator, but narrow stairs – over 400 steep stairs. And they are the same you walk up and than down – you have to wait for one another. But the view is worthwhile! Although we were up in a rainy day – the view of the whole city is fantastic. 360 degree view!
Next we went also to Uffizi Gallery. Especially if you are interested in painting and art history – not to be missed. You can see pictures of Botticelli, you can see some art of Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo and many others – in original. It is well organized by sections and numbered rooms – so if you want to see only one or first specific artist – you can.
Few practical notes – in many places they have free entrance or significant discount for students under 18teen. Usually you have to leave your backpack and big bags at wardrobe. But camera’s are allowed and you can make many pictures.
There are many more museums and places also where you can go. We did not have the time, even we wanted to go to the grave of Michelangelo. But this and other museums /as the one of Leonardo DaVinchi/ we would see in our next visit of Florence.
Florence is amazing experience and it is place to be visited many times. I would love to come back and visit more of the near by villages, taste the wine. But that is for next time.
I wish you magical time in the city of Florence.
Enjoy with all of your heart!