We arrived in Florence in the early evening. From the train station we rolled our luggage to the piazza where the Duomo, the Florence cathedral, is located. Lit up at night, it was spectacular. We found our bed & breakfast, checked in, and saw our lovely room with a view of the Duomo. This is the view from our room at night.
Then we started exploring the city. The first thing we noticed is that everyone walks in the streets, even though cars also use these streets. It’s a little chaotic, but it works, and we quickly found ourselves walking in the streets along with everybody else!
In Florence I started to see a lot of the amazing architecture, art, and sculpture about which I had studied in design school. Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance and home to Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. When the Duomo was built in 1296, the architect included an area for a large dome. After the Dark Ages there was no one who knew how to build a dome of that size. So they left it open to the weather until Filippo Brunelleschi came along and was able to build the dome. They knew if they waited long enough, someone would know how to build it! The dome was completed in 1436 – one hundred forty years later. It was an amazing feeling to stand beneath this famous dome.
On our first day in Florence we took a walking tour of the city. We learned how the Medici family ruled Florence for hundreds of years, and how they first hired Michelangelo to work in their palace. We saw many beautiful churches filled with sculpture and frescoes. Later that day we walked through the outdoor market. Florence is known for its leather goods, and knowing that, I couldn’t leave Florence without a beautiful new leather purse which I found at the market.
Our second day in Florence we toured the Uffizi Gallery, one of the oldest and largest art museums in the western world. We saw amazing paintings including some by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Caravaggio. The next day we toured the Academia and saw Michelangelo’s famous sculpture “David”. Michelangelo was only 26 years old when he began work on the sculpture, which he worked on for 3 years and completed in 1504. It was awe-inspiring to gaze upon this incredible sculpture.
I wish that we had had one more day in Florence, but it was time to leave. The next morning we took a taxi to the airport where we rented a car to begin our drive through Tuscany. More about that next time. . .