November 4 – A Second Chance for Florence

The Arno River at dusk

In 2006 I visited Florence with my family and left with pretty neutral feelings.  It was hot (we went in July) and crowded.  We visited the Uffizi and had to wait in line to see paintings I knew nothing about, and by the time we toured the Duomo I had been in dozens of other European churches and was not thrilled to be in another one.   The best part of our time there was the gelato.  Writing this makes me sound pretty spoiled, but Florence was one of the last stops on our trip and we were less appreciative of all Florence had to offer.

Now, on the recommendations of two of my good friends who fell in love with this city while studying abroad, as well as a WONDERFUL art history class from my own study abroad time at the American University of Paris, I thought I would give Florence a second chance. I am so glad I did!

Florence is delicious.  We could not stop eating today – sandwiches, pastries, pizza, gelato and coffee, and we haven’t even had dinner yet! We walked around eating our coal oven pizza and window shopping, and sat down in the Piazza della Signoria to rest and enjoy a latte while people watching. The city has wide boulevards and squares which, when not in the height of the tourist season, make you feel comfortable exploring. (Last night walking in the dark Venetian alleyways was a little unsettling).

The Duomo is gorgeous and I love its exterior colors; I think it almost looks like a large gingerbread house! I also found another church with some hidden “national treasures” – Santa Croce.  We decided to tour it not knowing it is where some of the greatest minds of the Renaissance rest.  We saw the memorials for Dante, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci… I was hoping to leave the church with new artistic talent and ready to rule, but so far I still feel the same.  It was a very inspiring place, I am glad we found it.

We spent a couple hours wandering the rooms of the Uffizi, which I appreciated so much more with my more extensive knowledge of Renaissance painters than the first time I went.  Da Vinci remains a favorite of mine, but I spent the most time admiring Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.  I am so happy to have the opportunity to tour this city again. I feel so lucky every morning I wake up on this trip and start my day with a croissant and cappuccino, wondering what I will be blogging about that night.