Exploring Florence, Italy

Florence in a day?  No way!  While you can Google many sample 1-day itineraries for a visit to Florence (really, do it now), there is NO way you would even begin to scratch the surface of this beautiful city in such a short timeframe!

I first visited Florence while backpacking through Europe over 20 years ago with one of my best friends.  I had no idea how special Florence was, as I was not into art and architecture.  I had no appreciation for it at that time.  What a missed opportunity!  I didn’t make that mistake this time around, and as a result, fell in love with Florence.

There is so much to see and do, no matter what your interests.  Art enthusiasts will be overwhelmed with the sheer number of choices in Florence.  But there is so much more to this beautiful city than just the art.  In addition to the stunning art galleries, museums, cathedrals, and statues, there are markets, gardens, gorgeous plazas, and delicious out-of-this-world Gelaterias.  Let’s take a quick look.

The Ponte Vecchio:

The Ponte Vecchio, or “Old Bridge” is a medieval stone arched bridge spanning the Arno River in Florence.  It potentially dates back to the Roman era and serves as not only a bridge, but also has stores, houses, and a pedestrian walkway.  The Ponte Vecchio is often bursting with tourists enjoying the vibrant, bustling atmosphere as musicians strum instruments, artists create portraits, and entertainers put smiles on faces.

While the Ponte Vecchio can be appreciated close up, make sure to admire the views from afar.  Stroll along the Arno River headed north west and cross any of the additional bridges crossing the river.  From these bridges, you’ll be able to capture fantastic views of this centuries old structure.

Piazza della Signoria:

The Piazza della Signoria is considered one of the most beautiful piazzas in all of Italy.  It has been a gathering place and the center of all civic life since the very birth of Florence.  Imagine people gathering to discuss laws as they were being created, or to participate in joyful feasts or cheer on their friends and family as tournaments took place.  Executions were also known to have happened in this square.  The history is rich and the setting is alluring.

Statue of David:

“When all was finished, it cannot be denied that this work has carried off the palm from all other statues, modern or ancient, Greek or Latin; no other artwork is equal to it in any respect, with such just proportion, beauty and excellence did Michelagnolo finish it”. ~Giorgio Vasari

Who has not heard of the 14 foot, 12,478 pound solid marble Statue of David?  It is quite possibly one of the most famous masterpieces ever created by Michaelangelo or any artist, for that matter.  First intended to be positioned over 250 feet high in the Duomo (hence its large size), it ended up gracing the Piazza della Signoria because of its “perfection”.  Little known (at least to me) is that parts of the Statue of David were covered in leaf gold, which eventually faded due to weather conditions over time.

Though the original statue was eventually moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia to protect it from further damage, a replica was made and still stands in the same spot it occupied many years ago.  If you don’t know your history, you may be fooled into thinking the replica is the real thing.  (I won’t mention who did that over 20 years ago).

The Duomo:

The Duomo took over two centuries to complete.  It started in the 13th century with Arnolfo di Cambio and ended in the 15th century with Brunelleschi building its infamous, world-recognized dome.

Gelato:

And what trip to Italy would be complete without visiting at least one Gelataria a day?  Of course, my family strayed from this quite a bit, as we may have visited two to three times a day, but when in Italy…

In and Around Florence:

A little Festival we stumbled upon in front of the Duomo.  Kathryn was chosen to participate in the dancing and festivities!

The Ponte Vecchio – Under a Full Moon:

And finally, the Ponte Vecchio at night time.  Make sure to visit the Ponte Vecchio at different times during the day, as the views change every hour.  It’s quite fascinating to watch the subtle changes and if you enjoy photography, you’ll come away with way too many photos.

Well, I’ve given you only a small taste of all Florence has to offer.  It is an incredibly beautiful city, so rich in history, art, architecture, and food, that you could easily spend a few weeks here and not get bored.  If you’re heading to Italy any time soon, make sure to spend some time exploring this enthralling city.

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