A couple of weeks ago, I took the train from Venice to Florence and spent five days there. Florence is about two hours away from Venice on the train, which I caught at the Santa Lucia train station, only fifteen or so minutes from where we live. Florence is one of my favourite places to travel. I had the chance to spend a couple of days there last summer, and I was so happy to be able to return and spend a bit more time there this time around.
Florence is quite small, and it’s easy to walk around the city and see everything on your list. No doubt you will want to go to the Duomo (the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore) and the Baptistery of Saint John in front of it, with its famous bronze doors.
The Ponte Vecchio bridge is a five minute walk from the Duomo, and along the way you’ll find the Palazzo Vecchio, with the statue of David standing in front of it (not the original, which can be found nearby in the Galleria dell’Accademia), the Piazza Signoria, and the Orsanmichele, which I had somehow missed the last time and was so happy to stumble upon it this time.
Beside the Ponte Vecchio bridge is also the Uffizi Gallery (http://www.uffizi.com), which is filled with famous works of art, including works by Botticelli, Titian, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Caravaggio, just to name a few.
The crazy thing about Florence is that you can do all of that in one day. I was really glad to be able to spend five days there, because I was able to explore the city a bit more and find some really great places. I still did some touristy stuff that I didn’t get the chance to do last time, such as go to the Santa Maria Novella pharmacy (http://www.smnovella.it), the Mercato Centrale (aka. the market building – http://www.mercatocentrale.it) and the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, where the Brancacci Chapel is located.
My favourite things to do, however, was just walk around and discover new places. If you ever find yourself in Florence, I recommend Procacci, a small little wine bar that serves tiny tartufo (truffle) sandwiches and great prosecco. I also recommend crossing the Arno River, away from all the tourists, and going for lunch somewhere on that side of the river. You can find some great and inexpensive restaurants there.
On that side of the Arno, you can also find the path that leads you uphill to the Piazzale Michelangelo, a great spot with a panoramic view of Florence. If you climb a bit further, you will find San Miniato al Monte, a Romanesque basilica that stands at one of the highest points in the city. There is also a beautiful cemetery in front the church.
Until next time Florence.