Florence is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It was the birthplace of the Renaissance and its balance of old and new can attract any culture-hound. Whereas Venice captivated us with its magic, Florence won our hearts by hitting close to home. Among the stunning old churches and cobblestone streets, there was an air of urban familiarity that lingered; shiny new stores and chic designers in harmony alongside family-owned trattorie.
Staying in a grand old world (but renovated) hotel overlooking the Arno River, we were able to experience a touch of Florentine glamour. A short walk took us to Santa Croce, the Duomo, and the famous Piazza della Signora. A few minutes in one direction landed us back by the river and onto the Ponte Vecchio where we admired vintage jewelry and fine Italian gold. Since shopping for precious gems wasn’t much our taste, we made our way over to San Lorenzo where we bargained hard for Italian leather goods like boots and belts; even a pair of black rubber rain boots when the rain really started to come down; my feet soaking in my black ballet flats.
The historic core was incredibly easy to navigate on foot sans a map and filled with a sense of adventure. Wander around, be mindful of where you’ve been, and it’s impossible to get lost. Just don’t forget to stop every few feet for some gelato– in Florence, gelato is just another form of art. Transcribed from notes on the backside of an Italian take-out menu, October 2012.