Journey to Firenze, Toscana

Tuscany is so beautiful, it has to be seen to be believed. The city of Florence is known for its overwhelming art galleries and Michelangelo Renaissance sculptures in marble, but still, I was struck by the colors and sounds of the cypresses or the scented air with notes of leather.

Florence & Renaissance

Poetry and metaphors aside, one of the best decisions – besides eating too much gelato – was to walk through Florence with Debbie and Elisabeth of “La Bussola Tour”, that shared stories with us of the Renaissance, powerful Medici family, Duomo di Firenze, Uffizi Gallery, Michelangelo, Dante, Botticelli, plus tips on Florentine food & Tuscan wine. Perfecto!

Florence is in the center of Italy, and was a center for trade and finance since the Middle Ages. Later, the powerful Medici family shaped the city, and filled it with art and sculptures. During the Renaissance period, our tour guide told us that because the people changed the way they thinked, was also changed the way art and architecture was done.

Also, she mentioned that for Uffizi Gallery we should reserve at least 3 hours for the visit. And I think Florence has so many museums and galleries, that you would need months to experience everything this city has to offer.

Famous Cathedral or Il Duomo, Streets of Florence in San Lorenzo, David statue by Michelangelo in Piazza della Signoria, and Bridge over River Arno.

Florence from flower

This Renaissance city center has four areas, in order to navigate the historical part:

  • Santa Maria Novella, close to the main train station and the world oldest Pharmacy, a best-kept secret
  • San Lorenzo, with the main historical points, including the cathedral and the Centrale Mercado
  • Santa Croce, with Basilica di Santa Croce, near the river
  • Santo Spirito, located across the river Arno, in Oltrarno

Favorites moments to remember – from Piazza della Signoria, where we saw the “David statue” by Michelangelo, we walked next to the secret Vasari coridor build by the Medici family to travel from Palazzo Vecchio, across Uffizi gallery and the Ponte Vecchio, until reaching Pitti Palace, the new palace, chosen by Cosimo I de’ Medici and his wife Eleanor.

Even though the biblical “David statue” we saw in the square is only a replica, as the original one by Michelangelo was moved to Galleria dell’Accademia.

Beautiful Toscana

Many gorgeous viewpoints due to the hilly landscapes. Piazzale Michelangelo and Church of San Miniato al Monte are a favorite.

Plus the gardens that belonged to Grand Dukes, and now are open to the public – Giardino Bardini, Giardino di Boboli and Giardino delle Rose (for free) – some of the many gardens. Plus, Giardino dell’Iris, as the emblem of Florence is the iris.

Florentine food

Typical breakfast is cornetto, sometimes filled with cream, eaten while standing at the bar next to a cappuccino. For lunch or dinner, Mercato Centrale is located above Florence’s oldest indoor market, San Lorenzo, in a beautiful Art Nouveau building. My first meal was here – pici cacio e pepe, a traditional type of pasta from Tuscany.

The food on the go is Lampredotto sandwich. A famous place, judging by the long queue – seems to be Oltrarno’s ‘l Trippaio di San Frediano. Or restaurants recommended by locals, “Il gato et la volpe” and “Acqua al 2” for pasta or Florentine steak.

For gelato, I only went also with tips from locals at Edoardo – Il gelato biologico, near the Duomo, and Gelateria de’ Neri, near Uffizi Gallery. But the third one, across the river, was the winner and by far the best one – Gelateria La Carraia, in Santa Croce. Ice cream is around two euros for a small cone. But why not take two flavors? Why not indeed. Nocciola et pistaccio, per favore!

Little shopping

Besides typical tuscan “pici” and “papardele” pasta to take home, I went to Flow Store – for vintage, and EPOCA, for more vintage, including why not, that Furla bag and one day, Ferragamo or Gucci shoes. Milan is a fashion capital, but “Made in Italy” has roots in Florence.

To do next time – a pasta class in Chianti or Sienna, try the fiorentine steak and spend hours in the Uffizi gallery.

Alla prossima!

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