Florence (also known as Firenze) was the second city we visited in Italy. We did one and half hour train journey from Rome till Florence. After reaching Florence, we quickly checked in our bags at our hostel and moved out to explore whatever we can in a day.
Instead of the usual ‘places to visit’ let me introduce Florence the we saw, by the kind of experiences we had, and visits we did around the town.
Italy is known for the finest leather while Florence and their surroundings specifically are famous for largest leather production in Italy. Hence when we reached Mercato Centrale Firenze it was understandable that we had stepped into a street market filled with street shops selling leather goods primarily. Though the authenticity of these shops will be highly doubted as most of them looked just like us (non-Europeans) doubting the fact if they were hired by Italian companies to sell their authentic stuff. Nevertheless there are lot of options available and looks like Fashion street of Mumbai.
After roaming in the street market, it took us a while to locate the Mercato di San Lorenzo. As it was surrounded by the street market and the gate was not really obvious. We were surprised once we entered this two level closed market. Market sold fresh products as well as had a plethora of restaurants. We decided to eat our lunch in this market and zeroed down to eating pizza at Sud Pizzera. As we very well know, pizzas are originally from Italy and it was a dream to taste most authentic kinds when in Italy.
Piazza del Duomo
After our stomachs were full, we had extra energy to explore and see the famous Piazza del Duomo. As we walked through the narrow street near the Duomo, we had no idea what stunning architectural wonder was waiting for us on the other side of the street. Once we laid our eyes on it, it was simply impossible to ignore it. Details and the colours involved in the facade of this building is exceptionally good. It took us a while to get a good picture in the super crowded small square and the surroundings.
Giotto’s Bell Tower
Actually it is just the tall building next to Duomo. Not people are aware that it is a separate building just because it looks so similar to it.
Italian gelataria are famous worldwide. I hope we all are on same page when we know the difference between Ice Cream and Gelato. Well, there is a difference and one needs to taste gelato when in Italy to reassure themselves of the difference. While roaming I decided to treat myself with dark chocolate gelato with charcoal cone. It was a trend back then, everything needed charcoal in it.
As we were relishing our gelato we stumbled upon a cute shop. It was a shop about Pinocchio. First we thought that it is an usual shop displaying artistic wood works but later we discovered Pinocchio was born in Florence? Le Adventure di Pinocchio was published from 1881-83, its about the wooden boy whose nose grows when he lies. Author of this famous work was Carlo Lorenzini is a Florentine.
Piazza di Santa Croce
Santa Croce church in Florence is the burial place of distinguished Italians like Michelangelo and Galileo. We heard street musicians play game of thrones music in the square in front of Santa Croce. It’s weird when you hear something familiar in an absolute unfamiliar place and realize random stuff can bring people together. After which we headed towards the bridges.
Bridges of Florence – Ponte Vecchio
So, there are atleast three bridges over the Arno river in Florence of which Ponte Vecchio is the most famous right now as it is occupied by gold and souvenir shops. A walk across this bridge feels surreal as it had been standing since the medieval times.
Palazzo Vecchio and Michalengelo’s David
As we were returning from the bridges towards Piazza del Duomo we passed through the Palazzo Vecchio. We enjoyed the marble statues outside in the courtyard and specially to see replica of Michalengelo’s David.
After this we concluded that we had a wonderful Florentine experience and were ready to explore Milan. Hope you had different experiences in Florence. I know many people take a day trip to visit Pisa when they are in Florence. May be thats what you would like to do as well. I am sure there is so much more to see in Florence and we have just seen a part of it.