My Mom joined Jesse and I in Rome, and after a few days there, we were off to the Abruzzo region, which you can read about here. We had rented a car for Abruzzo and our drop off was the Florence Airport. So, after Jesse navigated the narrow streets and crazy traffic that is the city of Florence (with trucks barreling on the thin streets, mopeds and vespas zooming by in blind spots, tourists aimlessly walking wherever it suits), we dropped off the bags and Mom at the rental apartment. Jesse and I returned the car to the airport, and returned to our rental apartment via cab. We ate pizza and drank Prosecco at a pizza place right outside our apartment, and called it an early night as we prepared for the next three days of adventure.
Mom and I left at mid-morning to walk the city, first heading toward the Duomo and the main square. We stopped for a selfie on the bridge that crosses the Arno river; with the Ponte Vecchio behind us.
Mom and I ate lunch first, with the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in the background, which is surreal.
After becoming very full on my Focaccia sandwich with Mortadella (my favorite lunch meat) whipped cream cheese and pistachio cream, following an anitpasti of mixed meats and cheeses, we made our way to the Piazza di San Giovanni. Always impressive and awe-inspiring, the details on the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Campanile di Giotto always make for neck straining viewing.
The line to enter the Duomo was surprisingly short so Mom and I went inside. Unassuming compared to the outside, the ceiling of the Duomo is the star of inside of the Cathedral.
Don’t miss the back wall of the cathedral, as the three stained glass windows really shine later in the afternoon.
After that we walked toward Piazza della Signoria, stopping into a church I cannot recall the name; but it was very bizarre, as we were the only two people in the church, along with an organ player, who played the most peculiar and creepy organ we had ever heard. It was so strange, and the painting on the ceiling felt like to was moving (almost). We made haste after his second song, worrying that we would be sucked into the void.
Mom took lots of pictures of the fountain, the Palazzo Vecchio and inside the courtyard; and the David replica and the other statues. We walked through the Uffizi courtyard, crossing the Ponte Vecchio, taking some pictures from the bridge looking out on the Arno.
We stopped at a bar and drank cappuccinos and then Proseccos, having fun talking and people watching. After that we returned to the apartment, and met up with Jesse. I wanted to take some night pictures of Florence, so Jesse and I went out to explore the city at night. There were much fewer people than during the day, but the city is lit up and lively. The moon was up high in the sky, setting the stage for a cool evening walk.
We went back to the Piazza di San Giovanni and walked basically the same route as Mom and I had walked earlier in the day, taking some great nighttime photos around the city. On the Cathedral we saw the Annunciation above one of the entrances, and had to get a pic.
The Palazzo Vecchio was our next stop, with pictures of Jesse in front of the fountain, and more of the other statues in the square:
Proceeding to walk back through the Uffizi courtyard, we heard classical music playing in the background, and found, at the end closest to the Arno, a group of four musicians playing the most beautiful music, with about twenty other people sitting on the steps, taking in the experience on this clear, cool evening in Florence. It was unreal and an unforgettable experience.
We crossed the Ponte Vecchio, taking the quiet side streets back to the apartment, walking slow, arm in arm.
The highlight of our last day in Florence was a tour we had scheduled at my Mom’s bequest, a tour about the Medici family. She loves the TV show the Medicis on Netflix, so I found a walking tour. It was led by a history professor and native Firenze named Marcello. He told us all about the family that put Florence on the map back in the 1400s. They were powerful, supported the arts, and had an everlasting influence on the city. We learned so many things over our two hours; starting at the Piazza San Marco, traveling to the first Medici home of Palazzo Medici (now the Medici-Riccardi Museum) and to their second home at Palazzo Vecchio to the final home of the Palazzo Pitti.
We learned about their connection to Michelangelo, how the family was run out of town, and how they returned; about the different sects of friars in the city, how the Medici built an above-ground pathway that ran above the Ponte Vecchio from the Uffizi all the way to the Palazzo Pitti; he told us about the family crest, that we never noticed, but is found all over town(two are above). Marcello was so informative and interesting while also making us laugh; the best part was that it was just me, Jesse, Mom and Marcello. We had our own private history teacher giving us a tour of Florence!
Jesse and I feel very lucky (and fancy) when we can return to the states, and tell people we visited Florence “twice last year.” But there is still so much we want to see in Florence, so we will definitely be back.