The train rolled into Stazione di Firenze Santa Maria Novella on an early March morning. Maps whipped out and ready to rumble, we headed straight to our hotel to drop our bags off. Locanda Dei Guelfi boasts a cute rooftop garden with a stunning view of Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore’s dome peeking from a field of terracotta roofs.
We immediately set off to explore the famed city, known to many as the birthplace of the Renaissance and a UNESCO world heritage site. Clear skies improved our already high spirits, as we hopped from attraction to attraction.
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is definitely one of the most breathtaking cathedrals I’ve ever seen in my life. The coloured marble façade of this immense architectural piece made for a humbling experience. The walk up the seemingly endless stairwell of the belltower was even more humbling, to the point of almost forcing us to our knees (from exhaustion), but it was well worth the 360° view at the top.
In front of the cathedral stands the oldest building in Piazza del Duomo, Battistero di San Giovanni. Its domed ceiling portrays the stories of St John the Baptist (Florence’s patron saint), Christ, the Patriarch Joseph and the beginnings of human life in shimmering mosaic decorations.
Strolling on, we zigzagged our way to Ponte Vecchio, stopping by many a statue and passing many street artists selling their artwork. Piazza della Signoria and Galleria degli Uffizi are great in the late afternoon, as the golden sunlight slowly moves across the faces of notable figures of the past.
I always enjoy myself most when exploring a city randomly, through small lanes and residential areas, to really see what life is like there. It was evening and we’d crossed the Ponte Vecchio to see if Giardino di Boboli (Pitti Palace’s gardens) was still open. Since it was not, we strolled along the high walls of the gardens, hoping to find a place where we could catch a glimpse of it. We didn’t, but as we hiked up the hill of Via de’ Bardi, aside from a great workout, we got a feel of an area of Florence perhaps unknown to many visitors.
By the time we were back in the main part of the city, it was dark and we were hungry. Luckily, we chanced upon a restaurant called Club Culinario Toscano da Osvaldo with a unique menu with plus points for being recommended by TripAdvisor. This is a restaurant I would highly recommend. The food was mouthwateringly delicious and the most memorable of the trip!
Our second day started early (to beat the crowds) at Galleria dell’ Accademia. Michelangelo’s “David” is truly as spectacular as they say and larger than I could have ever imagined, and the gallery is very well curated. To think we almost skipped it because of the long long line of people!
After spending 2 hours there, we spent another couple of hours browsing Museo Galileo, where I had the honor of being flipped off by Galileo himself (they have the middle finger of his right hand on display). How many people can say that?! Everyone who’s been to Museo Galileo, obviously.
After having spent half the day indoors, we decided to catch some rays and headed to our last stop – Giardino di Boboli. The garden spans 11 acres and plays host to ancient sculptures, Roman antiquities, grottos and fountains. Olive groves begin where the garden ends and the view is perfect for a short break. If I had a garden like this, I’d probably have less of a problem with jogging, that’s for sure!
Let me just say that 2D1N is not nearly enough to even scrape the surface of this wonderful city, so if any of you decide to go someday, please please please stay a little longer than we did! OH, AND THEY HAVE OLDSCHOOL PHOTOBOOTHS (FotoAutomatica)!