Hello again friends!
It’s been way too long since the last time I’ve updated my travel blog. I took a long break due to the craziness of school, graduating, and starting up my MCAT studies again. It’s a cold day in Texas on this lovey Saturday, and with a fever and pounding headache I am staying inside the comfort of my home! I can never stay in my house for long before I am driven to boredom, so I decided to take a break from studying to write a short blurb about my time in Florence and my favorite places to visit! I recently watched the show called “Medici” on Netflix, and oh the memories it brought back made me want to revisit the happy days studying abroad in Florence. I hope you will enjoy this blog whether you are just having an extreme case of wanderlust or planning a trip there soon!
Places to go:
Piazza della Repubblica: This piazza is the main square in Florence. Here, you’ll find tons of people, a few famous shops (Apple store, H&M, Zara, etc.), fancy restaurants, and a carousel. You can probably catch some street artists and shows! I remember walking by and listening to an opera performance in the middle of the square. This piazza was my point of reference for everything since it is smack dab in the middle. If it is your first time, you should definitely try to find your way towards this piazza, because then it will be super easy to make your way to the Ponte Vecchio and other museums!
Ponte Vecchio: This bridge is just so fun to go to! It leads south to the Pitti palace, which I will talk briefly about later, from Piazza della Repubblica. When the Medici family moved from Palazzo Vecchio to Palazzo Pitti, they wanted a way to keep connected to the Uffizi without running into villagers. They decided to build corridors above the shops that run along the Ponte Vecchio and you can clearly see them today! On the Ponte Vecchio, you’ll find lots of small shops (jewelry, clothes, etc.) and a view of the river. Be cautioned though, you’ll be surrounded by LOTS of people so keep your belongings close and secure. As part of my study abroad program, we had the opportunity to take a cooking class in Florence which was located across the Ponte Vecchio at a place called the InTavola Cooking Courses. Definitely check them out! The chef that taught us was super nice and we ended up making an eggplant appetizer, spinach ricotta ravioli, and tiramisu!
Pitti Palace: Although I did not enter the Pitti Palace due to time constraints, we did pass by it on our walking tour the first day in Florence. Originally built for the Pitti family by Brunellesci, it was sold to the Medici family and is extremely big and grand. You can buy tickets to go inside and see the museum that includes the Royal apartment and Palatine Gallery, as well as the Boboli gardens where you can find the Porcelain Museum and Costume Gallery.
Uffizi Gallery: As one of the top visited museums in Italy next to the Vatican museum, the Uffizi Gallery is a must-see for first time visitors! It holds famous works of art by Italian artists such as Botelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, etc! Put on your walking shoes those because this museum is HUGE. It’s 3 stories high, and seems never ending so leave a huge chunk of your time if you’re planning on admiring all the works of art here. Luckily for me, I went on a national holiday so the museum was free. I would advise getting there early so that it won’t be too crowded!
Palazzo Vecchio: Palazzo Vecchio leads right into the Uffizi Gallery. This place used to be the first home of the Medici family! Here, you’ll find the city hall which is huge and lots of famous sculptures.
Galleria dell’Accademia: The once place to see David! Be sure to get here early though because the line can get quite long. Inside, you’ll find the famous statue of David as well as Prisoners by the one and only Michelangelo. There are other exhibits you can see here such as old alter pieces and other famous artifacts.
Piazza di Michelangelo: Make sure to stop by this piazza before sunset! You will find the most beautiful view of Florence from atop this hill. It gets crowded on the steps so be sure to get there early to find a spot to sit! It is absolutely romantic and breathtaking to see the sun set and then the view of the city in lights. Be prepared to be taken back by how grand the Duomo and City Hall is compared to the rest of the buildings in the city. Go ahead and grab a bottle of wine, a group of friends, or your significant other and head on over. Do not miss this!!
Churches to visit:
The Duomo: Definitely the main attraction in Florence! You’ll find a church made completely out of marble with intricate designs and sculptures. You’ll also find the Baptistry right across with the famous bronze doors by Pisano and Ghiberti. I didn’t get to go into the Baptistry or climb the bell tower, but I went inside the Duomo since it was free and found it very simple and serene. History has it that the people of Florence were so focused on making the exterior of the Duomo extravagant that they didn’t really care for the inside. Definitely a lot more history behind these buildings, but I’ll leave that up to your research and just post some beautiful pictures!
Basilica di San Lorenzo: This is one of the largest churches in Florence, Italy. With a simple and plain exterior, inside you’ll find a beautiful and serene altar. It is located next to the main market so if you go to the right side, you’ll find lots of outdoor markets as well as a large indoor, “Whole-foods-like” store where you can find lots of food to eat! When purchasing a ticket to go inside the church, you’re also given a ticket to enter the museum. The coolest thing I found there was seeing the tomb of Donatello! Talk about excitement!!
Phew I didn’t realize how much I had to write for this post! This just goes to show that there are SO MANY things to do in Florence and SO MUCH history to learn! It is all well worth it though because it’s so surreal to be standing in places that are so well-preserved it’s hard to imagine that famous and historical people once walked the same streets you are. I highly recommend visiting Florence if you ever get the chance. It’s an adventure of a lifetime and I promise you won’t regret any of it!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out for more information or any questions!