I fell in love with Firenze, or as we say, Florence, for a reason I can’t quite put my finger on. Was it the Renaissance art and beautiful architecture within the ancient walls? Could it be the deliciously simple food? Or maybe I just found the Italian way of life so sexy, stylish and cool!
One of the charms of Florence is that everything is easily accessible and most sights are within walking distance of each other. This makes for the perfect city break and I organized my itinerary so that I could see all the main sights and still have time to linger.
Florence has a fine blend of history, culture and art and I was most excited to visit the Uffizi gallery. Amongst the masterpieces of Michelangelo and Da Vinci is my all-time favourite Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”. After the crowds had cleared I had her all to myself for a little and just stood back to admire the breath-taking exhibit. Then it was time to move on from a beautiful woman to a handsome man in the form of Michelangelo’s David at the Galleria dell ‘Academia. Wow, I was told by the tour guide to look at his eyes as they are said to directly face Rome.
One word of advice you need to get up early in Florence to beat the queues and even better book a “skip the line” ticket before you leave the UK.
After a lunch of Tuscan potato ravioli and a cheeky Aperol spritz it was the perfect time to walk off the calories and stroll to the medieval bridge, the Ponte Vecchio which spans the Arno River. I would recommend taking a guided walking tour as these include all the main sights such as the iconic Dumo Cathedral and magnificent Pitti Palace and Boboli gardens. Just remember to pack comfortable shoes!
Before dinner I headed to a bar for the great Italian tradition the Aperitivo, which is held between 1900-2100. Drinks are served with tasty canapés that encourage you to take your time and relax while people watching as the sun goes down. This is what I mean about the Italian lifestyle being so cool, we really need to introduce this concept to the UK.
If you are a foodie you must visit the Mercato Centrale an amazing space with a vibrant market selling a wonderful range of local Tuscan produce. Upstairs is a range of cafes, restaurants and bars if you start to feel peckish which remains open until midnight. Oh and did I mention the gelato? You have not lived until you have eaten a scoop (or three) of this creamy gorgeousness.
So in the blink of an eye it was time to leave and on route to the airport via train (which I must say is clean, efficient and cheap) there is a perfect opportunity to visit the leaning tower of Pisa. Here you can get your obligatory photograph propping up the tower with your hand or whatever body part you choose, as I watched others do with great amusement.
I left Florence with a heavy heart knowing that I needed to return. Like all new found loves I was left wanting more. This magical city fascinates me as there are so many things to see and discover. You can simply wander the winding cobbled streets forever and it feels like an incredibly romantic adventure.