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Florence: Experiencing the Renaissance

By November 13, 2017May 14th, 20182 Comments

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.

Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence, Italy

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.

View of Florence, Italy from Piazza Michelangelo

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.

Florence Duomo at night

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.

Donna Plewes and Amanda Plewes in front of the Florence Duomo

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?!”)

Donna Plewes and Amanda Plewes in front of the Ponte Vecchio

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!

Tuscan countryside near Florence, Italy, as seen from the Piazza Michelangelo

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!


  • Carli Chapman says:

    YAY I’m so glad you made it to my favorite city 🙂 I think it’s hard to find bad food in Italy as a whole – they have really mastered the art of combining ingredients! Everything is so delicious but at the heart it’s all so simple. Love it! I hope you get to go back sometime later on an spend more time there (eating gelato of course).

  • Donna Plewes says:

    Florence was incredible. I cannot be as eloquent as you, but the sights, the sounds, the view..everything was incredible. I am so happy we found “our” leather that was the source of my one souvenier…a leather shopping bag. I am still loving the smell of it. Exploring with you was amazing. It made is so much fun to be with you and discuss each choice of venue…You are an amazing daughter, but also an amazing tourguide. I just followed….

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