We left Rome and took a train to Florence, or Firenze in Italian. Waking up was difficult due to the excessive miles walked the day before. Honestly, I felt like an old woman, I was so stiff. However, we ate breakfast before catching the train, and the cappuccino and pastries really helped boost moods. I also think the fact that we had bought our train tickets separately and were therefore not sitting together was beneficial to our attitudes towards each other. Sometimes you just need a little space, even with your favorite people.
When we first arrived in Florence, the weather was a little dreary, as if it had just rained. It was considerably colder than Rome, where we were unprepared for the amount of sweating we’d do. Thinking back on it, it wasn’t that hot, perhaps in the low 70s, just like Malta. However, it’s location further from the coast may have resulted in a lack of the cooling sea breezes that we experience here on the island, thus making it seem ridiculously warm.
We didn’t know exactly how to get to our loding, but we knew that it was within sight of the Duomo (the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore) and we weren’t too worried about finding our way there. It turns out that our place, entitled Duomo View B&B, was appropriately named, as it was legitimately 50meters away from the Duomo. It was fantastic. We would walk out the front door and find ourselves right in the middle of the square.
Naturally, we decided to walk around the city and see what we could find. We got pizza at a place that was recommended to us by the owner of our hotel- Pizzeria a Teatro. He told us it was his favorite place in Florence to eat pizza and I admit, it was pretty awesome. But then again, when is pizza not awesome?
We made a big loop and walked down by the Arno River and then hiked up the other side of the city to the Piazzale Michelangelo. This square is high above the city and has wonderful views of the river, the Duomo, the bell tower Badia Fiorentina, and much more. The square also features bronze casts of Michelangelo’s The David and some of his other works. It’s amazing and I could have spent hours looking over the city while nice guitar music strummed in the background.
We finished off the day in the only way to finish a day in Italy, which was by eating some delicious gelato in the square while admiring the Duomo with the moon peeping up behind it.
We got up early today to visit the inside of the Duomo. For as intricately designed as it is on the outside, the inside was surprisingly plain and simple, but beautiful nonetheless.
Most people who visit Florence choose to hike to the top of the Duomo to get some amazing views of the city. We considered this, but ultimately decided against it, because to us, the Duomo is the view. Instead, we walked to the nearby Palazzio Vecchio, Florence’s town hall, and climbed the tower there. I would hands-down recommend this option to anyone who asked. We still were able to see fantastic views of the city, but the Duomo, the landmark building of Florence, was included, which was what we really wanted.
We headed to the Mercato Centrale for lunch, where we had some delicious pesto pasta and haggled with some street market vendors over some leather goods that are iconic of Italy in general, but especially popular in Florence.
As I mentioned before, Michelangelo has a bit of a presence in Florence, as that’s where he grew up and studied. The Galleria Academia houses one of his most famous piece of work, The David. It is extremely well known and there are multiple copies of it throughout the city. We saw many copies, but the original is stunning. The statue is enormous- 17 feet tall- and while this may seem painfully obvious, especially to someone with a religious background like myself, I did not realize that the statue is of David from the Biblical story David and Goliath. I didn’t make the connection until I read up on David after visiting the museum. I know, it’s bad. Michelangelo even portrayed him as holding a slingshot. While visiting the museum, I clearly remember saying, “I wonder what he’s holding?” Yeah..
Anyway, the history surrounding the sculpture is actually pretty fascinating. It was originally supposed to go on the top of the Duomo, but the size made it impossible. It was made to represent the defense of the civil liberties of those in Florence against the Roman enemy. This was demonstrated by turning the statue so that the eyes were glaring towards Rome. The history of the commission and creation is extensive and I suggest reading about it if Renaissance art is interesting to you. Seeing The David was a similar experience to seeing Van Gogh’s work in London, which I explained in this post. Seeing something, specifically a work of art or a building, that you have heard about for so long, is not one of those situations in when it is underwhelming or not as cool as you thought. It’s better.
For dinner we went back to the market and I convinced Matt to eat tripe with me! I had seen it when we went for lunch and I wanted it. We ate it on a sandwich and I was very pleased- I really liked it! I said at the time that I would eat it again, and I did, just a few days later! We ended the day very similarly to the day before, with gelato! But this time we purposefully sought out a place that we had walked by the day before that featured a wall of running chocolate. We weren’t disappointed.
Florence was amazing- it’s probably one of my favorite places in Europe that I’ve visited while I’ve been over here. It’s small and easy to navigate, making it much more cozy than Rome. The architecture is gorgeous and I could not stop staring at the Duomo. The river, the tiny streets, pizzerias on every corner- this is a place that is perfect for any type of trip, traveler, and group of people to visit!