It had been 12 years since I visited Florence. Things have changed. Much more with me and less so with the city. I am now older, a little wiser, and have a little more money in my pocket (translation: no backpack, a hotel over a hostel). I found myself much more appreciative of the charms of the city. It's pulse. The layer beneath the tourist layer.
I knew even before going it may be my last visit. Not that I don't want to return – I adore Florence. Rather, it took me 12 years to return and with so many other places on Earth I want to see, it's a simple matter of practicality. I just might not have enough time in my life to get back again.
To make the most of this visit, every morning before dawn and every evening as dusk approached, I walked the streets and alleys. Before dawn, the city is very empty. You virtually have the place to yourself. The evenings are bustling, locals hitting the bars and restaurants, tourists crowding the squares. Each time has its own charm.
At the end of the week, three aspects of Florence deeply resonated with me. Bridges, bicycles, and art.
The river Arno cuts through the center of Florence – its historical bloodline. Many bridges connect the northern and southern banks, the most famous being Ponte Vecchio. My personal favorite is Ponte Santa Trinita. Its stonework is classy, its arches long and sleek, and it offers superb views of Ponte Vecchio.
You are hard-pressed to find a street or alley without a bicycle. Cycles range from old pedal bikes to motor scooters and everything in between. Bicycles are a way of life in Florence. A long chat with a leather vendor in the market place confirmed that. He cycles everywhere – he doesn't own a car or a driver's license.
The museums of Florence are superb. I can honestly, without compromise, describe Michelangelo's The David as awesome. As I stood before it, I was in awe. Jaw-dropping awe. The scale, the attention to detail, the proportion. Words escape me.
Photography isn't permitted in the Galleria dell’Accademia. Fortunately, the city of Florence itself is art. The influence of so many great artists – writers, sculptors, architects, painters – are ever present. Statues and fountains decorate the squares dotting the city. The architecture! Il Duomo dominating the city in its gothic glory, rustic arches and doorways, the intricate facades of the buildings lining street after street. Local musicians too.
Feast your eyes inside the museums, and feast your camera in churches and streets.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Florence. I cherished every moment, every aimless walk, every wrong turn. Every espresso! A part of me wants to go back and soak in more of this Tuscan wonder. Another part of me wants to venture someplace I've never been. Florence. Will I see you again? Only time will tell…
/ August 2014 /