Florence is known for Leonardo da Vinci, and when you visit Florence, you can see where he got his inspiration.
While Simon was most looking forward to Rome, I was most looking forward to Florence. It’s a city of history and art, which I hoped to find some inspiration within my own artwork.
We started early in the morning, because as always we wanted to make most of the day, and also to beat the crowds. When you think of Italy, Florence isn’t the first place you think of, but it is still a tourist destination to many across the world, so expect big crowds down small streets. When we arrived, it was fairly quiet with only a few people out and about. We parked just on the outside of the town (as with many towns and cities in Italy, you can’t go in the centre due to traffic areas).
Soon as we walked into the city, we knew this would be a place that we would fall in love with and want to visit over and over.
We walked towards the centre through, you guessed it, small alleyways leading you past all the morning smells of various things baking. Few people were out and about at this time, so you could really get a feel of how it would have been walking side by side Da Vinci during the renaissance.
Top tip in Italy – if you think your lost, head towards a piazza. They are big open spaces and give you sign post to the different directions.
Piazza Della Signaria
After walking through the city, our first main stop was the piazza Della Signaria. This is quite an impressive square, and no matter where you look, you will see a piece of history. The first thing your eyes will lock onto is the fountain of Neptune. This is a beautiful fountain to see, but be warned, it is difficult to get close to it, as it is one of the main attractions of Florence and there will be a lot of people around.
There is not just old monuments around this piazza, but also a new one, which is in the centre and is a bronze turtle statue. It’s a bit different than what you would expect but quite good to look at.
We were early and it was still heavly crowded, so be warned and take the usual precautions when in any crowded place.
Piazza Della Repubblica
We carried on our trip through the streets of Florence, and it wasn’t long before we hit our second piazza, we can’t get enough of piazza’s, they are full of history and all different in there own way.
This piazza used to be the centre of Florence in the renaissance period, and when you walk into it, you can tell. With monuments in the middle, surrounded by majestic buildings, and then on one side a archway leading you in and out of this piazza. You can just sense the markets that would have been surrounding the sqaures. These days it’s not quite like that, but still has its own charm, with a giant carrousel in the middle for children (or adults I suppose) to use.
We made our way out of the piazza and towards the edge of the city. We headed towards the Arno river and crossed a bridge to get a good view of the river. Now at this point we didn’t cross that very famous bridge, which I will talk about later, but we got a very good view of it when we crossed this much smaller bridge.
Once we crossed the bridge, and after a few minutes walk, we approached the palazzo pitti. It is very much a different type of building to what you would have seen so far in Florence, but no less appealing to the eye. This building has a lot of history and was in fact the residence to the Medici family (now if you don’t know who they are, look them up, it won’t be hard to find out), so you can imagine the stories them walls could tell. It’s a great place to just sit down and appreciate everything around you as it’s not too busy.
Ponte Vecchio bridge
We headed back towards the centre and this time we went over the Ponte Vecchio bridge. This is one of the most famous bridges, but from inside you can’t tell your even going over a bridge. The bridge is full of a variety of shops that line both sides the whole way along. This is great to see and walk throughbut it was very crowded, to the point where you couldn’t really walk without walking into anyone. This would be irritating for me at the best of times but with two dogs it was difficult, and I would recommend for you to walk over a smaller bridge if you have animals with you.
Back towards the town and now to head to the Duomo. After walking down the popular shopping streets, we turned a corner and there it was. It is another great example of the architecture of the renaissance period, and of Italy itself. The colours they have on these buildings I have never seen before, and it is a truly wonderful sight. We slowly just walked around the building to see as much of the outside as we could. There are restaurants lined around the side and is a beautiful view to have some food (though it is always well known, that anywhere near a tourist attraction will charge more, and may not be the best food you can get so be warned).
After we got a quick bite to eat, well a magnum ice cream (Sorry but you could personalise it to have any topping you wanted – it was to die for), we headed back towards the car and had to say a sad farewell to Florence. With us having our boys with us, it isn’t possible to go inside any of the museums or churches, so a trip back to Florence is a must, and even then it will be multiple times as there is too much to see. What’s great is you can buy a pass and it lets you into most of the sights in Florence, so that is something we will be looking into when we next make a journey.
So for me and Simon, Florence is the best city we have visited so far, but be careful if you go – you don’t want to be getting Florence syndrome! (oh and this is real check it out!!)