Don’t travel to Florence, Italy. Resist the lure of this riverside city. Don’t visit Florence because once you do, you’ll be ruined for life. Why?
Arriving in Florence is a lot like falling in love. You’re first met with butterflies of anticipation and the optimism that this one will be different, this one will be unlike the rest. You get to know each other, slowly at first walking along the Arno River and then suddenly all at once you feel as if you’ve known these views for years. The subtleties of its beauty become acutely apparent to you, revealing colors that were once muted now glowing as the day breaks.
Soon you’ve fallen head-over-heels for everything Florentine; the charms of the Ponte Vecchio shops, Masaccio’s frescoes in the Cappella Brancacci and the never-ending glasses of Fiorentina wine. And like any epic love story, this tale can only end in heartbreak as your board your plane for home and Florence becomes an ever-present memory continually lingering in the back of your mind. You’ll move on, you’ll love again, but nothing will quite be like Florence. Here’s why:
ShutterstockThe View Out Your Window |
Every room in Florence is one with a view. Brunelleschi’s dome for the Duomo of Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore, dominates the cityscape. It rises like the sun from a horizon of red roofs. It’s a scene that captures the hearts of 21st century travelers just as it did in the 16th century.
For the best vantage point in all of Florence, make your way across the Arno River to the Piazzale Michelangelo square. From here a panoramic view comes into focus, highlighting not just the infamous Duomo but also the Palazzo Vecchio tower and Giotto’s Campanile bell tower. Gaze upon the scene knowing it’s the same one that Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci marveled at and gained inspiration from.
ShutterstockAwe-inspiring Architecture |
Florence, the forever trend setter, had the most incredible architecture long before the Renaissance swept the rest of Europe. This city changed the way we see the world forever, inspiring a resurgence and appreciation of innovation. It’s a city of art both inside and out.
Florence ruled the Renaissance, giving birth to the movement in the 15th century. It was art appreciation in its finest form, architects turning to the elements of ancient Greek and Roman structures for inspiration. What was built here served as the ruling guideline for all subsequent Renaissance architecture throughout Italy and Western Europe.
Look at the buildings around Florence and you’ll find the attributes that defined this era. Dismissed were the intuitive designs of medieval buildings, instead an emphasis put on symmetry, proportion, geometry and exact mathematics. Every column, dome and arch had a very deliberate place. Filippo Brunelleschi is widely considered the father of the movement, giving it significance with his first major commission – the Duomo’s enormous brick dome that would come to be not just the icon of Florence, but the most architecturally significant creation of the entire period. It remains the largest masonry dome in the world.
Brunelleschi may rule the history books and skyline, but Florence was and is an intellectual trove of the brightest minds in design. There’s the Ponte Vecchio stretching over the Arno, the Santa Maria Novella church and its famous frescoes and the most exclusive of them all, the Vasari Corridor. Perhaps the most intriguing structure in Florence, this over-ground passage links the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti unassumingly above the Ponte Vecchio. It was commissioned by the powerful Medici family as a way to travel from their home, the Palazzo Pitti, to the Uffizi without mingling amongst the commoners.
Today it’s one of Florence’s best kept secrets, with hardly a tourist giving it a second glance. Within it though, are more than 1,000 paintings from the 16th century and is arguably the world’s most important collection of artist’s self-portraits. Another perfect example how Florence is beautiful at first sight, but stunning once you peel back the layers.
ShutterstockNever Go Hungry |
The food of Florence has launched thousands of replicas and copies, but nothing matches the fare and wine that can truly be dubbed Fiorentina. If a dish can be called Fiorentina, it’s like issuing it an international label of deliciousness.
The most classic of these meals is the Bistecca alla Fiorentina. This take on a T-bone steak was born in the early 19th century, now synonymous with the native cuisine of Florence and is defined by a rigorous set of rules. Chefs select the most tender and large fillet as possible, the meat coming from a chianini ox calf. The meat is then to be hung for five days, kept at room temperature for 10 hours before grilling.
The steak is grilled over charcoal, forming a dark crust to seal in the juices. Flip it but only once while cooking. The end result is a cut that’s very well-done on the outside, and rare on the inside. If you still have room after this filling dish, follow the lines of locals to the nearest gelateria for a scoop of Italian ice cream.
T photography | ShutterstockA City of Masterpieces |
You would need to return to Florence again and again and again to take in just a fraction of the masterful artworks the reside here, considering the city is a masterpiece in itself. Leave plenty of time in your itinerary for wandering the Galleria degli Uffizi, the world’s greatest gallery of Renaissance art.
Remember to tear your eyes away from the walls to see the frescoed ceilings above. It’s these hallowed halls that preside over the most important artworks in history, including Sandro Botticelli’s La Primavera and The Birth of Venus alongside Rembrandt’s Self-portrait as a Young Man and Leonardo da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi of 1475.
Florence is a never-ending gallery, guiding you to artwork at every step. Inside the Accademia, Michelangelo’s most famous sculpture, David, lives and even the public squares serve as tributes to skilled hands and genius minds.
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