Okay, so maybe it didn’t rain the entirety of our stay in Florence, though it certainly felt like it at the time. There was no in-between there with the weather; it was either gray and raining or bright and gloriously sunny. Florence reminded me a lot of Paris in its extreme meteorological pendulum swings, that, while dramatic, charmed you either way. Our itinerary had us in Florence from Wednesday afternoon through Saturday morning, but we both agreed we could’ve spent a lot longer here. It’s not hard to see why, especially once the weather improved.
At check-in, our Airbnb host insisted we visit the Piazzale Michaelangelo, a garden and piazza nestled high in the hills on the southeastern part of the city. The view, he said, would be worth the climb. He was right. We went late one night, after a long and delicious dinner (a common theme) we wound our away across the Arno and up up up to the expanse that overlooked the city. On our next trip back (because yes, there will be a next time) I really want to camp out there for a full day and photograph the city from sunrise to sunset.
We also climbed 414 steps the top of the Campanile, or bell tower, next to the famous Duomo in the center of town. If you’re going to Florence, seeing the Duomo is a must; The Cathedral itself took almost 600 years to complete (from 1296 to 1887), and its famous dome, built by Filippo Brunelleschi, is a marvel of ancient architecture. It’s incredible. But I’d skip climbing it in favor of the Campanile, because that way you can actually see the Duomo from the top. Sorry for another Paris-comparison, but I make the same recommendation when it comes to the Eiffel Tower: skip going to the top, and instead climb the Arc de Triomphe, where you get to see the Eiffel Tower from the top. It’s the best part of the city’s landscape, and you can’t see it if you’re on it. The same logic applies for the Duomo.
And then of course, there’s Michaelangelo’s David. Nothing prepares you for its grandeur the first time you see it in person. It’s massive, and completely breathtaking.
But I think my favorite part of the whole trip was wandering around the Mercato Centrale, a sprawling, two story indoor food market (which we ducked into to avoid yet another flash rain storm, ha) and watching Jamal’s face light up at every vendor and stall we passed. “Look at the fresh octopus!” “Look at the size of those artichokes!” “Real San Marzano tomaotes!” The best: “Wow, imagine if we lived here. I’d be here every Saturday morning buying food for us.” Swoon.