TRAVEL WEEK: Falling for Florence.
After the whirlwind that was Rome, we were off to Florence. This incredible city just moves at a different pace. Oh, we still walked everywhere and covered a lot of ground, but there wasn't as much a sense of urgency to see and do everything like there had been in Rome. And yet there was so much to see and so much to do and we had so little time here, but something about Florence just made you feel like you'd get to everything you needed to and see just enough to feel content but know that you'd need to make you're way here again on another trip, at another time.
We arrived via train, an adventure in itself, and had about half a day to at least get acquainted with the city. On our way to our hotel, which this time more than ever paid off to book ahead of time, we got our first glimpse of the Duomo, the main cathedral of Florence. Built in the Gothic style, this building looks like something straight out a fairy tale. At first, I thought the outside was painted, but it's actually made of marble panels of green, white, and pink. The decadence is incredible. It was amazing to see the Duomo peek out down various streets as we explored the city--you'd round a corner and it would suddenly appear.
We knew our hotel would be close, because we always aimed for the historic heart of each city. But we had no idea just how close we were this time. We had a beautiful view of the Duomo right from our room window. To make it even better, our hotel had a rooftop patio where there was probably one of the best views in the city.
We didn't waste anytime before seeing David. To think that this incredible sculpture that we've all learned about - especially any art students - was right here, blocks away from our hotel room, was incredible. So we grabbed a quick lunch and headed to the Galleria dell'Accademia. Once inside, you make your way through a few galleries and all of a sudden, you turn down a hall filled on each side with what look like enormous marble statues, until you see him. David is simply an experience. We've seen him in textbooks, on t-shirts, aprons, and about anything you can imagine, but you've never really seen him until you are there. Michelangelo's 17' marble masterpiece left Derek and I stunned.
After seeing the David, it already felt like we had really accomplished something. So we did what we do best - walk - and just had an evening of exploring. We made our way to Ponte Vecchio, a beautiful bridge with shops all along it that have been built out past the original structure. Many of the shops are jewelers and we had a lovely time checking out each shop and seeing some really stunning Italian gold pieces. We ended our first evening with a bottle of Prosecco on our hotel's rooftop, with a view that really couldn't be beat.
The next day, after a rooftop breakfast, we climbed over 400 steps to reach the top of Giotto's Campanile, a tower next to the Duomo. After taking a million photos, we trekked back down and explored inside the Duomo and the Bapistry. We spent most of the afternoon exploring parts of the city we hadn't reached yet and wrapped up the day with a walking tour that covered the "Dark Heart of Florence", political intrigue and feuds during the Medieval and Renaissance eras. It was pretty dramatic and we loved it.
Our final half-day in Florence was dedicated to the Uffizi Gallery where many classic paintings and sculpture, including the Birth of Venus by Botticelli. By this day, Derek and I had perfected our "museum pace" and were able to take in the artwork we loved (there were a few more Caravaggio's here, which we had already fallen in love with at the Borghese Gallery in Rome), snap some pics, but be able to get through a museum in about half a day (that's a pretty big feat for the two of us). Ending our brief but wonderful time in Florence with some really stunning art was the best to leave this magnificent city.
Must-Do's in Florence
A Walking Tour of the City
In Florence, there was a distinct difference in what people were wearing compared to Rome. Overall, the look was much more chic and elegant. Because overall the style was very classic, there was no shortage of black in every type of clothing. However, this is not to be confused with boring or dull ensembles; rather it was very much on trend and delightful. There were some wonderfully adventurous monochromatic outfits (check out our Color Theory post for more on that). Rompers and jumpsuits were the must-have go-to piece: perfect for hot sunny days and warm muggy nights. Because there was so much cobblestone here as well, many women opted for a block heel (though there definitely were still a fair number of pump warriors out there).
Here are a couple items you definitely don't want to travel without. Click the images for more information.
1. Madewell Transport Leather Crossbody Bag. I never go anywhere without this bag--travelling or not. That is unless I'm using the matching leather pouch. This bag was wonderful for travel: small yet large enough to fit the daily necessities, the zipper was a great during times when I was concerned about pickpockets, and the durable leather ensured that it would hold up. My only complaint is that if you're using the shoulder strap, it can wear on your clothes (I'm talking the annoying pillies). I have yet to find a solution.
2. Victorinox Small Pocket Knife. This little guy is so much more than an adorable knife. With seven handy features including tweezers, scissors, and nail file, it's a must for travelling as you'll inevitably forget to pack six of them.
3. Moleskin. Many people think when they travel you must choose between dressing well and comfort. Not so my friends. Derek and I really made an effort to dress well on the trip to look a little less like tourists (not only for photos, but looking less like a tourist means you look less like a pickpocket's target) and that included our choice in shoes. A little bit of moleskin (that thanks to the scissors in your Victorinox knife you can trim) and you can be blister-free for weeks. Your feet and wardrobe will thank you.
4. Madewell Medium Victory Leather Pouch. Another Madewell necessity. This is perfect for holding passports, change, cash, cards, phone, and small accessories or makeup. It's a perfect match to the bag and is slim enough to fit while being a large enough size to actually stay organized.
Tomorrow's destination: Venice. If you want to go somewhere where every single photo you take could be a postcard, Venice is your destination.