“The creator made Italy from designs by Michelangelo”
There are very few cities on earth that rival the beauty of Florence. We have had the privilege of walking twice beneath sunny Florentine skies, tracing the inspirational footsteps of Michelangelo and da Vinci. From richly colored marble and realistic masterpieces to shop lined bridges and golden doorways, Florence speaks to the soul in a way only a historic Italian city can. Walking the cobblestone streets is placing yourself into the very heart of history, immersing yourself in an epicentre of art and culture.
Designed in 1869 by Giuseppe Poggi, as part of a restructuring of the city walls, this is a place not to be missed. The view of Florence from this vantage point is absolutely spectacular, and the reason both locals and tourists continuously flock to it. There are vendors selling their wares as well as a bronze copy of Michelangelo’s ‘David’. And as you step towards the edge, noting each of the city’s most beloved monuments and squares, from the curve of the duomo to the arches of Ponte Vecchio, the vast stretch of history will take your breath away.
We found ourselves here for not only the stunning panorama, but for a long planned Father’s Day surprise! Pulling into the parking lot, two gorgeous red Ferrari’s came into view, surrounded by throngs of tourists, tongues wagging. What a thrill it was to tell Sam that he was about to take one for a drive! A huge thank you to the kind gentlemen at TestDriveFirenze who were absolutely fantastic and who allowed our daughters to also partake in this bucket list adventure!
Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the most stunning structures I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing. With a dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, this gothic style cathedral began construction in the 13th century by Arnolfo di Cambio, and is the 3rd largest cathedral in the world. Boasting ornate carvings and walls of pink, white and green marble, the outside is only rivaled by the mosaic flooring and beautiful frescoes of the interior.
Located across from the Duomo is the Battistero di San Giovanni, constructed between 1059 and 1128, it is one of the oldest buildings in the city. It is well known for being the place where Dante was baptized, as well as it’s three sets of bronze doors with relief sculptures. The East doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti were dubbed the “Gates of Paradise” by Michelangelo, and are commonly mistaken for being the originals. To see the real works, you must visit the Opera di Santa Maria Del Fiore.
Also housed here is one of the final works by Michelangelo, the Florentine Pieta, of which he attempted to destroy in a fit of rage, following what he found to be a flaw. The face of Nicodemus, at the top, is said to be a self portrait, and Michelangelo intended for the sculpture to adorn his tomb.
While there are so many pieces of art worth paying homage to in the collection at Galleria dell’ Accademia, most people step thru the doors to view the infamous Michelangelo masterpiece, David. We had missed seeing this slice of artistic history on our last visit, as a strike caused the gallery to close for the day. This time we were successful, and stood in awe of the 17 foot tall marble masterpiece. Everything from the natural light above, to his disproportionately massive hands and head are sheer perfection.
***avoid long lineups (that can run hours long) by booking an entrance appointment in advance online
Spanning the Arno River at it’s narrowest point, Ponte Vecchio is a historic gem not to be missed. Rebuilt after flooding, it was built for the final time in 1345, and was the only bridge spanning the Arno not to be destroyed by the Germans during WWII. The massive pedestrian bridge is filled with tourists, meandering across as they peer thru windows offering spectacular gold and jewelry, stopping in the center to view the river passing below.
PIAZZA DELLA SIGNORIA
This is perhaps one of my favorite places to visit in Florence. Located close to Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo, it is also the gateway to the Uffizi Gallery. Situated beneath the tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, the square is rich in monuments, such as those of the open air gallery, Loggia dei Lanzi. A menacing bronze ‘Perseus’ beheading Medusa, the marble ‘Abduction of the Sabine Virgins’ by Giambologna and ‘Hercules slaying the Centaur Nessus’ are absolutely captivating.
This city rooted in the Renaissance is an absolute must see. Whether you spend a day or a lifetime, it simply will not be enough time to explore every historical corner. From breathtaking views of a distant duomo to awe inspiring pieces of the masters themselves, Florence shall always be one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, that place where footsteps remain forever.
Until we meet again,