The second stop on mom’s and my tour of Italy was Florence, a city I’d heard so much about from so many friends! I was so excited to come, because so many people told me it was their favorite city in Italy!
We arrived on the first Sunday in October – which was lucky, because the first Sunday of every month, all of the museums have free entry! Our hotel was right around the corner from the Academia, so we stood in line for about 30 minutes for the chance to go in and see Michelangelo’s David.
I can see why they built the whole building around that one statue! It truly is radiant, and probably the most impressive piece of sculpture I saw on the whole trip. The marble it’s carved out of is just exquisite – it’s so white and bright it seems like it’s shining from within. The statue is gorgeous from every angle, and I think we spent a solid 20-30 minutes just appreciating it!
That day, we walked down and around the city and saw the Florence Duomo. The outside is so incredibly detailed and well-carved, and it’s stunning! It was interesting to look at it and think about it in relation to the Duomo in Milan – I loved that the Florence one was filled with color! The rose and green in addition to the white marble were just gorgeous.
I cannot believe the detail and intricacy of these buildings considering how long ago they were built. I just can’t even understand how master builders thought of all of this and built plans for these gigantic and incredible masterpieces.
After walking around the Duomo, we headed on to the Piazza della Signoria, which was fun to see. The week before I came to Florence, I’d been reading a book about the Medici family, and seeing the different parts of Florence really brought the book to life!
The next morning, we woke up and had breakfast on the plaza looking out at the Duomo, and then waited in line to go inside. (Alas, I did not do the early planning to get tickets to climb it…) I’ll be honest – compared to some of the other churches I’d seen in Europe, the inside of the Florence Duomo almost feels unfinished. It was interesting to feel that way, because of course, compared to anything in the US, the inside is breathtaking. But compared to the rest of Europe, the inside is not as impressive as the outside.
We headed on and hiked up to the Piazza Michelangelo. It was quite a hike! But so worth it, as the views were absolutely incredible. I can see why so many people go up for sunset! We continued our walk and went up the hill to a church that overlooked the city.
I must admit that I’m glad we continued up! The church was so much less crowded than the Piazza, and had the same stunning views. But it was also infested with mosquitos, so I think I made our trip there short! They were eating me alive.
We continued back down the hill and enjoyed the Ponte Vecchio. It’s such an incredible bridge, especially with all the shops on it! I’m not sure I’d ever trust buying something there, though! (And I just had to add this picture… My mom and I got such a laugh from it! Her face is saying “Can you seriously believe my 20-something daughter talked me into backpacking in Europe?!”)
As we walked through the city, we went to the central market. It was so overwhelming! It’s so difficult in Italy to tell which goods are real leather and which are fakes. When we went back to the hotel to take a brief break, we looked up “how to tell real leather in Florence” on Google, and found a reference to a wonderful little shop – 23 Via di Giorni. Lucky for us, the name is the address, and it was super close to the hotel! We took a trip, and had so much fun looking at all the purses and leather goods. And we might have both ended up with a purse!
We weren’t in Florence long, but I can see why so many people love the city. There’s so much to see and do, and so much incredible art and architecture. Not to mention the food! We did not have a single bad meal in the whole city – it was just so tasty!