Do your heart a favour, travel. I have loved every place that I have ever travelled to. I have even re-visited some of these places. When you think about it, your heart can easily fall in love with each place you travel to. My heart will always belong to my hometown of Vancouver, but I know I left a bit of my heart in the Tuscan hills of Italy.
We spent a grand total of two and a half days in Florence. Not very much, I know, but we had a tight schedule since we were booked to go to a cooking school in Poppi afterwards. We added a few days to the start of our trip to try and pack in as much of Tuscany as possible. I was fortunate enough to find a VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner – part of the HomeAway family – similar concept to AirBnB) only minutes away from the Duomo. We were so close that we even walked past our apartment during our walking tour of Florence.
We met our guide, Emily, on our walking tour. She’s a Florence native and had a bright personality and a passionate love for her city. She wore a silver Florentine coin around her neck to show those in her tour group and to remind her of her home. I loved her instantly. She led us through the streets of Florence giving us little bits of history and pointing out different things. Her favourite colour is purple. A colour, which she happily told us, was discovered when a man peed on a flower. (That being said, when I look it up online – I find that purple was discovered by soaking snails? Someone find me the history of peeing on flowers!)
As we went by a large building, she pointed out the Medici family crest (in the picture below, it’s the crest with the seven balls on the corner of their palace) – a family that eventually came to power and started as bankers, minting the first ever coin, the Florentine.
We were led through the Galleria dell’Academia and took our obligatory photo of the Statue of David. Apparently they statues were sculpted with particularly large hands (especially the right hand) and a large head, to depict strength and wisdom. Oh, on another note – apparently small genitals were desirable back in then and meant to show rationality (or maybe he was just afraid of fighting Goliath…).
From the Galleria, we headed to see Ponte Vecchio (literally translation? Old Bridge. I have to say – that everything in Italy is beautiful – but the naming of things still mystifies me. So simplistic. Good? Bad? Or just different. But really though, “old bridge”.) Either way, this bridge is a Medieval stone bridge that arches over Arno River in Florence. I found it very quaint as it still has shops built along it, which was once common. Originally, butchers initially occupied the shops, however, today you will find jewelers, art dealers and souvenir sellers. The Ponte Vecchio’s two neighbouring bridges are the Ponte Santa Trinita and the Ponte alle Grazie.
According to Emily, Ponte Vecchio was unharmed by the Germans during World War II unlike all other bridges in Florence. This was allegedly, because of an express order by Hitler – he ‘liked’ the bridge.
From Ponte Vecchio, we had time to explore the Uffizi Gallery. I could attempt to recite what Emily told us about Uffizi, but I’m sure wikipedia does a better job. That being said, the short version is that Uffizi houses a collection of artwork assembled by the Medici family. They were lovers and collectors of great artwork – and much of the building has been hand sculpted and painted to show the phenomenal talent of artists of that age.
After our tour, we continued to explore the city, to shop, to eat and to meet some amazing people. I have a separate post on the food in Italy – like the popular Florentine steak (a large T-bone steak) and a few of the mouth watering restaurants and food stalls we went to.
Until next time,