Florence (Firenze), Tuscana
Florence is located in north central Italy in the Tuscany region. Florence was founded in the 1st century BC as a Roman military outpost. Today, it is the most populous city in Tuscany. Florence is known as the birthplace of Michelangelo Buonarotti, the famed Italian artist and sculptor.
The red dome that stands out as you walk the streets of Florence belongs to the Cathedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. Here there is also a prayer entrance for mass with no lines. Mass here is even shorter than at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice -about 20-30 minutes. We had to be a little persistent here with the security guard, telling him that we wanted attend mass, in order to get in. In front of the Cathedral, look for the golden Baptisery Doors that inspired Michelangelo.
Duomo Cathedral, building started in 1296- Florence, Italy
On our first night in Florence, we walked to Piazza di Michelangelo for beautiful views of the sun setting over Ponte Vecchio. Unfortunately everyone else had the same idea, so it was a crowded viewing area, but still worth the walk up and the views. From Piazza di Michelangelo, we got a view of the city below and the old city wall that guarded the city in times past. From Ponte Vecchio, the bridge first built in 996AD, the walk took us along the River Arno, past a city gate and into a park area.
Ponte Vecchio on the River Arno as the sun sets, Florence
On our way to Ponte Vecchio, we stopped by Piazza della Signoria, or as I called it, Statue Square, where we saw a copy of Michelangelo’s David. Before that, we checked out Santa Croce, the church where Michelangelo and Galileo are buried. There is a 6EU/adult admission fee for Santa Croce.
In Piazza della Signoria, Florence
One specialty food we tried in Florence, was the tripe (lampredotto) sandwich. The sandwich consisted of tender tripe cooked in a tomato base served in a sandwich. It was decent tasting. We got ours from a, not-so-friendly street vendor, but I hear that Mercato Centrale is a good place to taste a sampling. We also tried the gelato flavor, Fiore di Latte. It tasted like a much creamier version of vanilla. Delicious!
View of a City Gate and Duomo in the background, Florence
In Florence, we stayed in a 15th century palace centrally located in the middle of Florence. It is somewhat mind boggling to think that this palace was being built when Christopher Columbus was making his first steps onto the Americas. The room itself was part of a palace, with access to a large living and dining area. Unfortunately, the room faced the street, so though it was 3 floors up, the echos from the 4 floor building across the street and the cobblestone street below, amplified each and every sound that came along. Lesson learned? Try to get a room NOT facing the street.
If only we had more time, we would have checked out Basilica Santa Maria Novella, just across from the train station. I hear there is beautiful art on display and free admission, at least in the summer 2015. Mercato San Lorenzo is another place we would have loved to explore for souvenirs. It would also have been nice to walk along Florence’s outermost city wall, the one that we saw while we were at Piazza di Michelangelo. Of course, there is also the Uffizi and Accademia Gallery Museum, if we thought the kids would tolerate it. All on my mental list for your next visit…