All roads lead to…

Well, everyone knows the saying all roads lead to Rome. And of course, in history this is true. Just take a look at the ‘Peutinger map’ and you’ll see every single road will end up in Rome. Now I’ve never been there, although it is on my bucket list. So when I went to Italy with my mom last year I settled with the second best city you could go to: Florence.

Ok, truth be told, Florence for the most part as it is today is not as old as the well known parts of Rome, like the Colosseum or the Forum, but it is nonetheless very beautiful. The city is build on the banks of the river Arno and most of the great buildings still standing are from the Renaissance. From the 15th century the city was ruled by the Medici family, which had ties all over Europe especially in the financial world of that time. With their fortune they build a lot of landmarks, which today, people from all over the world come to see and explore. Besides loving architecture, the Medici’s loves the arts. To decorate all their great houses and palaces they ordered paintings and sculptures from the greatest artists of their time, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Rembrandt.

Looking over Florence from the Tower of Palazzo Vecchio towards the Duomo.

So my mom wanted to go away with me for a few days, and we settled upon Florence. Partly because I promised my boyfriend I wouldn’t go to Rome without him, as we both desperately want to go their, and partly because I just finished reading (most of) Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno’. So she booked the trip not knowing anything about where we would go, other than what I and a friend of her told her about the city. But what a great choice it turned out te be!

On the day of our arrival, we flew from Eindhoven Airport to Pisa in less than 2 hours. From Pisa Airport we had to take the bus to Florence, which will take about an hour depending on the traffic. As driving cars in the historic city center is prohibited you will be dropped off at the Santa Maria Novella railway station, which is about 500m north west of the Duomo. After gathering our bags, we set foot to our accommodation. Like I said before, my mom had no idea what she booked. Of course, the flight is easy, but where do you stay in a city you don’t know at all? Well, I can absolutely recommend the apartment she booked us. We stayed at the Via Roma Suites on the Via Roma 1. They have very clean and complete apartments for up to 6 people. And the best part about them: When you get out the front door the first thing you see is the Duomo right in front of you. Seriously, you take about 50 steps and you are right in front of the baptistery and the cathedral. Because our apartment was on the courtyard side of the building (which for the most part houses locals) it was very quiet during the night. Upon our arrival at the building we had to wait a little while for the owner to let us in. He and his little (and sweet) daughter showed us around very quick and set of again.

We quickly decided to leave our stuff upstairs and go explore this beautiful place, we knew absolutely nothing about except the pictures I had seen in the book. So first we went to Duomo square, as it is right across the street. The buildings are huge, and the square is very busy until late at night. In front of the Campanile we took a right turn towards Piazza della Signoria. On this piazza you’ll find Palazzo Vecchio, the old palace of the Medici family. Walking further to the south you pass the Uffizi Gallery. On both sides there are statues of great Italians in history. When you go right to the end of the passage and cross the street, you’ll stand on the embankment of the river Arno. Looking to the right there is the Ponte Vecchio, or old bridge, connecting both sides of the city. When crossing the bridge you’ll see a lot of jewelers in their shops on the bridge. On the other side a little further ahead is the Palazzo Pitti with the famous Boboli Gardens.

When we reached the Palazzo Pitti it was about 8PM and we had to eat something. So we went back over the Ponte Vecchio en walked straight ahead towards our apartment. In the streets are lots and lots of places you can eat. Don’t however sit at the very first place you see with pizza or whatever food you want in the window. They asked high prices for food which isn’t necessarily bad, but you can get much better for much less. Look around for a bit for places that don’t advertise as much and where you find a lot of Italians. In the apartment is also an info chart with restaurants recommended by the owner. They are obligated in Florence to leave you with information that will help you move around in the city.

So, after having our first bite to eat in this amazing city we went to bed for a good nights rest. Trust me, with little to no public transport (which in my eyes is also not necessary) resting your feet whenever you can is a must. More about our second day in my next post!

J.

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