Firenze: L’arte e il Rinascimento

IMG_7276Florence is far from a hidden gem: it doesn’t need any publicity from me for tourists to go there (and I know, as soon as I visit a city and write about it, the tourists start pouring in) and it will always be famous for its art and in-your-face Renaissance everything. The first time I went, I enjoyed it but it took third place after Venice and then Rome. While I didn’t get to Rome during my time in Bologna, I did revisit both Venice and Florence, and, strangely enough, my thoughts on the two switched. I visited Florence at Christmas on my second to last day in Italy, and really enjoyed everything I saw. I went with three friends from Bowdoin, and it was nice to explore a city with some friends who’d also just studied abroad (in Svalbard and Panama, talk about different experiences).

This time around, we climbed the Campanile and got an incredible view of the Duomo. The ticket was pricy, but the view was magnificent, and you get to see the Duomo from up high too, which is a plus. Last time I went, I climbed the Duomo at the crack of dawn: this was an equally pleasurable climb, but I’d say both are worth it.

We visited the Accademia and saw Michelangelo’s David, which is incredible every time you see it. There are some beautiful paintings in this museum as well, and the statues in the plaster school are fun to pose with…

A Renaissance Meep…?
A Renaissance Meep…?
Upside down tourism at its finest
Upside down tourism at its finest. Photo from Hannah M.

We headed down to the Ponte Vecchio, the city’s iconic gold bridge, and crossed over to the other side of the Arno River. We headed uphill to Piazzale Michelangelo to get some of the best views of the city. While we were there, we discovered “upside down tourism,” and I have to recommend it in this spot (just don’t fall over!) It was a foggy day, so the city looked a little more ominous than usual, but this sort of awkward parking lot has a wonderful view of the city. Just avoid the vendors selling David or Venus aprons and statues.

We strolled back down the hill through a garden and stopped for gelato back on the other side of the Arno at Gelateria delle Carrozze, one of the best places for gelato I’ve been in Italy (definitely try their coffee chip). After that, we wound the day down walking across the city and talking about our different semesters abroad. The Christmas lights turned on, and the city had a real charm to it at dusk.

Finally, we didn’t visit during our day trip, but the Uffizi is a must. It’s one of the best art galleries in the world on par with the Louvre and the Prado. The Palazzo Pitti gives you a glimpse into the lavish life of Florence’s dynastic Medici family. The Baptistery has an incredible gilded ceiling and is only two steps away from the Duomo. For some Florentine leather, check out the Santa Croce Scuola del Cuoio where students can monogram journals and other leather products with gold leaf. There’s plenty to see and do in Florence. While you will pay a much higher price tag than you would in Bologna, if you do it as a day trip it’s more affordable.

Third country visited with travel buddy Bailey
Third country visited with travel buddy Bailey

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