Greetings readers, how ever many there are of you at this point. Before I continue my tales of adventure in Florence, I first would like to once again apologize for my absence from the blogosphere. Though I would love to spend my days recounting to you my journey through Europe, girl’s gotta get paid ya know! But with the time I have now, I would like to finally continue with my stay in Florence, or Firenze as it is called in Italy.
After losing our Kentuckian friends, I was curious about our next two roomies, wondering what sorts of crazy exploits they may have gotten themselves up to. Imagine my surprise when I met yet another couple of Americans, two guys named Tony and Nate, traveling around Europe from Minnesota. On their first night in the room, we all shared a bottle of wine and talked about our plans for our stay in Florence. Since Kug, Tony, Nate, and I all had similar plans, we thought it best to tour the town the following day and cross a few things off our to-do list, so to speak. Also, they had a line on a terrific tiramisu that was definitely calling my name, so wherever they were going, I was destined to follow!
The next morning, we started off in search of a walking tour. Of the four of us, I was the only one to have some experience in this area so I was the major advocate for this activity, but of course anything free is always a good idea right? Wrong. I kid you not, this was the worst tour experience I have ever had. We were told to meet in front of the cathedral of Santa Maria Novella which is located conveniently next to the train station (which, if you recall, is super close to where we were all staying). The tour started at 11 am so we made sure to give ourselves plenty of time to reach the meeting point. It was a bit of a rainy day, but this was not a deterrent to myself, my comrades, or any of the other tourists hoping to glean some information gratis from a local guide. However, it appeared we were much more interested than the guide who assumed that due to foul weather, the tour goers would most likely not venture out. Considering that most of the tourists in Italy are American and the tour is free, I would think never to make such an assumption, but apparently they think a lot differently in Italy. Twenty minutes after the tour was supposed to start, a flustered woman appeared with a small microphone and attempted to explain the mishap. Noticing the large group that had amassed before the Santa Maria Novella, she attempted to dial reinforcements in order to divide and conquer, so to speak. But alas, no one answered the call on this rainy day, so this poor woman was stuck taking a tour of about 40 tourists around the city of Florence. This was no easy task of course because, not only were the ancient streets of Florence exceedingly narrow, but the rain had caused everyone and their mother to bring with them a ginormous umbrella blocking all audible noise that uttered from the tour guide’s weak microphone. Approaching the Duomo, the four of us had no idea what was going on. Obviously frustrated that we were unable to hear or understand anything that this woman was talking about, we decided to leave the tour. Yes, I walked off, but it was the first and hopefully last time that it will ever happen. I was disappointed in the lack of planning on the company’s part, and also by this poor woman’s co-workers who couldn’t be bothered to help a sister out when she has a group too large for her microphone.
But it wasn’t all bad, because the site in which we ditched the tour also happened to be home to the terrific tiramisu the guys had mentioned earlier. In my mind, we made the right choice.
After stopping off for our little snack break, I figured we were too close to the Duomo to not pop in for a little look-see. I didn’t want to pay for the whole ticket, including all the other buildings and the tower, because there was still a lot of Florence to see. But the church itself was enough for me! Even though the outside is much more marvelous than the inside, it is still quite the experience to walk around such a lavish place of worship.
Exiting the Duomo, I met up with my ragtag group of roomies and we headed off in search for more of Florence’s iconic sights (and food; definitely food). Obviously, Florence is famous for it’s art; it is the home of Michelangelo’s David, The Birth of Venus, sculptures by Donatello, drawings from Leonardo da Vinci, etc, etc. Most of this art is housed in two main museums: the Uffizi and the Accademia. But of course, being the most famous of the museums in town, they were also some of the most expensive. Now, as I have mentioned several times over the course of this blog, I’m not a huge art person. Of course I can appreciate talent, but as far as me and art go, talent is not subjective. Therefore, I did not want to waste precious euros on museums when I could be using them for the things I really can appreciate; which in most cases is and always will be food.
As such, on our way to find a few of the less popular art venues, we made sure to imbibe in a little Italian sustenance, or sandwich in this case. Unlike Rome, I found the food in Florence to be much more affordable and also much more enjoyable. The little cafe we popped in to that afternoon was just a small little place, and yet they had a full service Italian deli, along with a myriad of hot food items including, but not limited to, an entire traditional three course lunch for less than €10. Since I was originally planning on going out for a nice dinner that night, I opted for the sandwich, but looking over at my rabid cohorts devouring course after course, I knew I had made the lesser choice. At any rate, Italian food is good food and I had no real complaints.
Having filled the tank, we rolled on towards the Bargello, a smaller museum than the Uffizi or Accademia, but no less accomplished. Spanning several floors and artistic epochs, the Bargello is home to many sculptures, paintings, artifacts, and exhibitions which show the viewer a lot about the Italian flare for all things creative. Even though I couldn’t really tell you what painters, sculptors, or masters are on display here (besides the few obvious ones like Donatello and Michelangelo), it was still a great way to experience the Renaissance culture of Florence without paying the cost of added hype. Even though it’s not home to David, it is home to a lot of other interesting and thought provoking works of art. Not to mention, you can pretty much get the idea of Michelangelo’s famous masterpiece all around town, as replicas follow you wherever you go.
To prove this point, let’s take a look at Piazzale Michelangelo, the place we were told to go in order to see the best sunset that Tuscany had to offer (and another replica of David). Along with a beautiful sunset, if you explore a bit further, you may also run into the nightly chanting of a group of monks in the church just up the hill.
An idyllic setting for any night in Italy, but even more so in Florence. With it’s iconic and unmistakeable Duomo, Tuscan architecture, and kind people. It was a beautiful night in Florence, but just the beginning of a magical stay in Tuscany. I was lucky to have found such fun and funky friends to spend the days with because I could not have imagined my time here without them, a thought that really resonated with me as we all sat down to pizza later that night. Even though it wasn’t the four course dinner I imagined, sitting on the steps outside the Basilica di Santo Spirito with a box full of Il Gusta‘s pizza was the perfect end to a pretty perfect day. But of course, it was the first of many more to come.