All the cities I’ve been to in Italy have felt like both an adventure and a home. The center for fashion, food, and history- Italy is a paradise for everyone and multiple travel interests. My most recent time spent in Italy was 5 days, 3 of which were spent in Florence. I could have easily stayed weeks more without ever getting bored of this city. Flying into Florence, I was skeptical of this large city that looked like every other place right outside the airport. Once we got into a taxi and went into the city center, I was amazed by the history in the heart of Florence and its unique atmosphere. One of its defining features that blew me away was the beautiful red, green, and white cathedral in the center square- surrounded by cafes, bars, and tourist shops alike.
One of my favorite things about Italy and Europe in general, is that everyone walks everywhere. When we asked the tour guide how far the bike tour would be he replied, “two hours of biking, nothing too strenuous!” Many locals walk/ bike through the city leisurely as their main form of transportation, to soak in their beautiful city and the calming aura it gives. Thankfully the bike tour showed us main points of Florence I would have never found on my own, such as the Cathedral, the Baptistery, the Uffizi, and the Accademia. We also saw historical sites such as the churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce– where the bodies of Michelangelo, Rossini, Machiavelli, and Galileo Galilei are all buried (a history nerds dream). After our tour and Florence history lesson, we walked the city until dusk and accidently wandered into some of the oldest streets in the city. We reached the Arno River and crossed the Ponte Vecchio, where the views were spectacular, the history was rich, and the gelato was expensive (8 euros for a cup, I cringed).
Since I was in Italy, I decided to live another long lived dream of mine. Ever since I was a young girl and watched the movie “Under The Tuscan Sun,” I had aspirations to be Diane Lane and explore Italy. When I found out I couldn’t be Diane Lane, I settled with my aspirations of exploring Italy, specifically Tuscany. When I found out that Grieves (a small wine village housing a number of wineries) was a short pit stop about an hour outside Florence, I thought this might be the best opportunity I would get for a day in the Tuscan countryside. We decided to take a guided tour and spent half a day at the Chianti wine vineyards tasting the local wines and experiencing the small town atmosphere. If you are a wine lover (like myself) I would recommend taking time to experience Italian wine country and exploring the many vineyards while you are in this area.
My last bit of Florence knowledge is a piece of advice. A must see in Florence was the Piazzale Michelangelo- a hidden plaza at the top of the city with the best views of Florence. We had no clue this was here when we came to visit and there was no way we would have seen its spectacular views without our tour guide.
Florence was a city that I came into with no expectations or agenda, leaving me in awe and grateful for every experience I had there. If you are a lover of history, museums, and food (like myself) or more interested in fashion, wine, and food (always food, its Italy) Florence is a destination with a little bit of everything. A historical haven, a fashion center, and also conveniently close to wine country in the region of Tuscany, Florence is a travelers dream I would recommend to everyone.