Following my short stint in Naples I spent three days in Florence being a tourist (basically Italy was 100% tourism). Which was fun, because Florence is a great place to be a tourist. The city is beautiful, clean and friendly. And all the touristy stuff is clustered pretty close together so you can walk everywhere, which simplifies things quite a lot. The only downside is that it was chock full of other tourists. I’m still expecting Venice to be worse, but Florence was the first time on this trip that I’ve actually been frustrated by all the other tourists slowing me down and spoiling the ambience the whole time.
So, what things did you do in Florence Robbie? Excellent question, Reader. Aside from parks and general touristing, here are some of the things I did in Florence:
Another gigantic European cathedral: Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. One of the prettiest ones from the outside. I also went up to the top of both Giotto’s Campanile, and dome itself; which may have been slightly redundant. Both offered great views of Florence from roughly 30m apart.
The Duomo museum was unexpectedly good though. Definitely one of the better ones I’ve been in. A lot of thought and effort was put into the staging and presentation of the exhibits there. And all of them were given their own space with enough room to breathe and stand alone. Which is a sharp contrast to many museums which just have tons of things clustered everywhere. Walking into a room in the Florence Duomo museum really feels like walking into a space specifically designed to exhibit that one thing, rather than just a room with a bunch of stuff. It’s good. I like it.
Apparently the thing to do in Florence is go to the Piazzale Michelangelo and watch the sunset. So that’s what I did. The problem with things to do though; is that people do them. So everyone and their cat (expression, sadly) was there to watch the same sunset. It was still just as beautiful of course, but the moment loses it’s charm somewhat when the place is swarming with tourists. No comparison to watching the sunset with just the two of us at the top of Glymur for example.
On my way to visit the Basilica de Santa Croce I discovered some kind of jousting competition. The plaza had been converted into a big horse arena with stands on three sides. Competitors would thn come out in pairs (on horseback), gallop around the arena once, and then attempt to skewer a tiny hanging ring with their lances. It was pretty fun way to spend an hour or so. My guess is that it’s some kind of tradition?
The Academia Gallery! Famous for hosting a certain statue made by a certain Michelangelo. The main attraction was much bigger than I expected and I was suitably impressed by the handiwork. That said, I’m pretty easily impressed when it comes to statues. Carving anything at all out of marble just blows my mind. Aside from that there wasn’t too much else in the Academia . There were a lot of Botticelli paintings which I really liked though. Very elegant painter. However his most famous work; The Birth of Venus, is in the Uffizi, which I didn’t visit.
The Piazza della Signoria is a pretty famous square in Florence, but in my experience squares are usually not too much to write home about. However, this one I am writing about (and you’re reading it, obviously) because it had a few of the coolest ad most epic statues I’ve seen. Like, full on power-metal-taking-the-hobbits-to-isengard epic.
The Ponte Vecchio bridge is pretty famous too. My favourite thing about it is not that it has buildings on it (which is pretty rare for bridges I think?), but more that some of those buildings just appear to be regular houses where people live. On one side you look out the window and see hordes of tourists strolling past fancy shops and selfie stick hawkers, and then the window on the other side is just a river. Except it’s also your regular window so you hang your washing out of it or something and go back to watching TV in your weirdly located regular house.
And that’s that for Florence. I did a bunch more exploring but didn’t find too much else of interest. Mainly a bunch of “meh” parks, gardens and churches. Plenty of good food though!