For those of you who have never had the privilege of visiting Florence and for those who have visited, let me share with you how I feel about this glorious city.

My first visit to Florence was in 1971, before Euros, before cell phones, before the number of tourists became overwhelming. I walked the streets for hours, being absorbed into the beauty, the brilliance that is Florence. In the 60s, the river Arno had overflowed. I was in secondary school in the USA and already enraptured by the art in Florence. Much of that art had been damaged. I sent a few dollars to help in the restoration and hoped that one day I would be there.

In ’71, when I arrived in Florence, I was a hippy with little money. I was overcome by Florence, the sense of balance, the exquisite architecture, the history of the Medici family and all the artists they supported. Just by luck I arrived during a festival. The Renaissance costumes worn by the locals and the drumming carried me back in time. I could easily have believed that the character portraying Lorenzo the Great of the Medici family was the real person.

I did manage to see the Uffizi.  The collection of art shown in this Renaissance Palace was displayed chronologically. Every piece was fascinating. When I reach the Renaissance rooms I was in artistic prospective heaven. Each painting was intriguing, stunning, remarkable. I especially enjoyed

Botticelli, Michelangelo,

And my favorite Renaissance hero, Leonardo da Vinci!

He was a master of prospective from the beginning and changed the way his teacher, Verrocchio functioned.

The Accademia houses the world-famous sculpture of David by Michelangelo.

The exquisite detail that is David

Cannot be captured on this photograph. There is so much more to see at the Accademia, but David dominates

Even if you are a broke hippy as I was the first time, there is art on every corner, art  and architecture. A perfect example is the architecture is the Bruneleschi’s exquisite Duomo, the first photo above.  There was a contest for the construction of the dome. All the best architects competed. Supposedly, Bruneleschi stood an egg on its point winning the contest to build the multi-layered dome topping the most famous construction in all of Florence. Whenever I am in centro storico, city center, of Florence, I use the Duomo to guide me as I wander. It is easily seen above most buildings in the city.

Walking past the Duomo, its marble church, Baptistry and the entire piazza, toward the Arno River, you can explore the Piazza Signoria, near the Uffizi. Today this square is nearly always filled with tourists because of all the sculpture displayed. Michelangelo’s David was originally placed here outside Palazzo Vecchio, the medieval Palace. The Loggia, a covered display area housing more sculpture such as the Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, Perseus by Benvenuto Cellini is a place I often hide away from the crowds and study the works of art all around.

Outside the Loggia stands the the Fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo Ammannati, a statue of Cosimo Medici by Giambologna and so many more. I can spend hours there.

Walk through the Piazza Signoria to the beautiful Arno River which separates Centro Storico from the Oltrarno, the other side of the river.

View of a rower beneath the Ponte Vecchio, the only original bridge crossing the Arno that survived World War II bombings.

In the Oltrarno (the other side of the Arno), you will find winding streets filled with artisans creating and selling their wares. Gorgeous furniture, metalwork, clothing and footwear. I own a pair of tennis designed locally in Oltrarno that my daughter says are the hippest shoes I have ever worn. There are more churches, museums, the Boboli Gardens and different, less traveled areas where you can get  away from crowds, eat with the locals and feel like one too. I love crossing the river and often stay on that side when I visit.

There are so many experiences to be had in Florence. I cannot possibly cover them all here. Views, Churches,live music, Food, including Bistecca alla Fiorentina, the tastiest beefsteak I have ever eaten, wine, all that wine, pizza, pasta, pastry, biscotti!

Florence, Firenze, is a living, growing city with ever-changing artistic, musical, whimsical events. Your senses will be nearly overwhelmed by the excitement, the beauty, the extraordinary Renaissance architecture and the lovely Florentine people.

Fall in love with Florence as I have. Of course, all of Italy is exquisite. But Florence stole my heart decades ago and to this day still holds it close.

  • Marilyn Ricci
  • : Marilyn Ricci, a dual citizen of both the USA and of Italy, shares her adventures on her Take Me Home Italy, Ciao for Now Blog. Marilyn lives most of the year by the seaside in Liguria, Italy even though she was born into an Italian-American family in St. Paul, MN. After careers in music, real estate and being a mother, she found her true passion in the exploration of Italy and assisting others to discover the real Italy and Italian Soul.
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  • : If anyone is looking for travel adventures in Italy, beyond the typical tourist trip, I not only write about festivals and unique experiences with artisanal providers, one of a kind lodgings and out of the way exploits where you spend time with locals and find a piece of the true Italian Soul to take home with you. I go there and check them out for you. I share experiences of living in Italy and being Italian so you can enjoy authentic travel in the Bel Paese.
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