Of all six cities planned for the trip, I was looking forward to Florence the most. In fact just a week before the trip we changed the itinerary by adding a day in Florence and subtracting one from Rome. A last minute switch to a trip with months of planning was risky, but the return was tenfold. By day three of Rome we were ready to move on and had our fill, but on day four of Florence we were reluctant to leave for Germany.
Above all else in Florence is the Dome. With no skyscrapers or any tall buildings of note, the Duomo towers over the city making it visible from nearly anywhere. This offers a guiding hand for tourists who can follow the Dome like the North Star to find the center of the city. It’s Florence’s identifying landmark in photos, with each street artist painting the cathedral and it’s Dome from a different perspective. The loud bells start with a 7am wakeup call and can be heard throughout the city. And because our Airbnb was right next to the Dome every day began early.
We started every morning in Florence the same way, cornettos and cappucinos at the bakery next door. One of our few rituals in a stretch of twenty unpredictable days. Although they appear the same there is a slightly discernable difference between cornettos and croissants. This is likely due to the unconscionable amount of each Corey and I have had after a week in France and a week in Italy.
As in Rome, Michelin Star quality food can be found everywhere in Tuscany. There are slight diferences, for example Florence has many trattorias that serve steak and meat from the region where Rome valued its pasta. However food in Italy is a tier above the rest and we had no meal less than excellent in Florence. Paninis with any meat or cheese you can pronounce, homemade gelato on every street corner vying for our favorite, and pizza in its most authentic margarita way. We ate five euro prosciutto and mozzarella sandwiches on a curb in the dark and never felt more like kings.
Despite its role in the Renaissaince six hundred years ago, Florence remains a young city thanks to a large population of college students studying abroad. The nightlife is vibrant and during the day there is an energy throughout the various markets. Pedestrians rule here and people walk freely in the streets as cars struggle to pass. With Florence’s reputation for quality leather, Corey and I bought leather jackets from the San Lorenzo market after haggling with countless salesmen.
On our last night in Florence, we ate at a small restaurant with only ten tables. It also doesn’t take reservations. Our Airbnb host, a nice old Florentine man, recommended it so we waited a half hour before they opened at 7pm to get a table. We split a 20 oz T-Bone steak butchered fresh in the open kitchen ten feet from our table. Paired with a local Chianti and followed up with gelato we closed out our time in Florence the best way to spend any time in Italy, eating.