I was unexpectedly charmed by Florence, and enjoyed it more than I had thought that I would. While it was unusually crowded per our guide, due to both a Chianti festival and a marathon to benefit breast cancer, our short visit was lovely. We found ourselves in the middle of the Chianti festival on our first afternoon in Florence, which was a site to behold, with a ceremonial march through the town square, with the procession all dressed in renaissance outfits, and a huge stack of chianti bottles on a carriage being presented at the front of the Duomo. It was a great surprise to wind up in the middle of this special celebration. We continued our walking tour, seeing Palazzo Vecchio (thought of you, Megan!), a walk around the outside of the Duomo, and going to the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David, which is incredible to see. We then met for dinner in a lovely restaurant and had absolutely the best meal thus far. It was so delicious, I could have wept from joy. I’m in food heaven in Italia!
Sunday was mostly on our own, which I loved, and after a late breakfast, I ventured out to go wander around the city. After a morning stroll through town, I had lunch in an outdoor café, right on Piazza della Repubblica, and then enjoyed more walking around the city. I came across a street lined with motorcycles, from Ducati to Triumph to Harley Davidson, and the most gorgeous and well dressed Italian men that you could imagine. Italians just have style in everything they do, and this was no exception. It was a fashion ad come to life right before my eyes.
We met up in the afternoon for a tour of the Uffizi Gallery with a local guide who showed us the highlights of the museum, and it was wonderful to see so much amazing art in one place, from Leonardo to Michelangelo, with the highlight of Botticelli, including the stunning Birth of Venus and Allegory of Spring. As with many other famous works of art, it’s hard to describe seeing them in person versus in photos or film, and what surprises me is that it never gets old — each time, I’m awestruck to be standing there in person seeing these masterpieces, and appreciating the history of the time they were created. Just amazing.
I wrapped up the day with a walk along the Arno River, including the Ponte Vecchio, and then made my way to what turned out to be the highlight of the visit: a nearby hotel with its own tower, which was the tallest tower in Florence, with panoramic views of the city, staying through sunset, and watching the moon rise over the Palazzo Vecchio in the distance. Incredible.
Perhaps cliché, but I did have a room with a view, to quote the movie title, looking out at the Santa Maria Novella church, and the domes and bell towers in the distance. It was great to be charmed by this city, and I leave thankful for having been here.
We left town this morning, and stopped by the Florence American Cemetery and Memorial, where fallen soldiers from World War II are laid to rest, and it was a beautiful tribute. I was particularly touched by all the graves of unknown soldiers, and took a bunch of photos to share with my dad, as well as getting a copy of the brochure, as I know he would be interested in this special place.
We are now in Rome, so that’ll be next!