Florence, Firenze, My Favorite Italian City
Written by Natalie December 5, 2014
I had been to Florence in 2009 with my family and I absolutely loved it. I remember running through the Piazza della Signoria on the way to grab a last minute charm for my charm bracelet. I remember posing for family pictures in front of Ponte Vecchio. I remember strolling through the San Lorenzo leather market in awe of the goods surrounding me. And I remember looking up in absolute awe at David’s perfect marble form who stood so tall above my 15 year old self; David was my favorite.
For some reason, throughout this semester I have struggled with the idea of returning to countries or places I have previously visited. Silly, trust me, I know that now. I figured that I was throwing away the opportunity to visit new places when I chose to visit “old” places. Alas, that is so obviously not the case. My wise mother, who of course knows best, reminded me that it is not quantity over quality. She encouraged me to re-visit the places that I loved and I knew it was another opportunity to experience the culture in a different way than before.
As I was sitting on the train, my heart was so happy to be visiting Florence again. Kayla and I arrived in the evening, and the other two ladies, IB and Rebecca, of our group were arriving a couple hours after us. After a long walk to find the hostel, which evidently was in another building, we decided it was time to eat. I was surprised to find myself agreeing to try out the food at the American bar that was right down the street. I guess I never knew how much I missed a greasy cheeseburger and a plate of fried mozzarella. Yum!
Since the weather for the weekend was supposed to be nothing but rain, we decided to get started early in the morning. Our first stop was the look out point over the entire city, Piazzale Michelangelo. It was gorgeous and you could see just about everything in the city. I remember seeing the giant David replica in the plaza, but I couldn’t picture it in my head. Being there again brought my memories back to life and I remembered driving by the pizzale briefly five years ago.
We made our way to the Ponte Vecchio to cross over the famous bridge. My family and I never got the chance to actually cross over the bridge when we had visited so it was really cool to step foot on it. Next stop?! The leather market! I knew even before deciding that I was going to Florence this weekend that I wanted to again someday visit the San Lorenzo leather market. If you ask my travel group, they’ll surely tell you that I couldn’t shut up about it the whole weekend… oops. This semester, I like to think that I’ve gotten pretty good at reading a paper map, mainly because Google Maps isn’t readily available on my phone like it is back in the states. It was also cool because I could remember parts of the city and I was able to follow the map as well as my vague memories back to San Lorenzo. And once we got there, I knew my bank account would be hurting afterwards. At least I prepared myself for it and hadn’t gone into the market not knowing I would spend. I came out of the market (after multiple trips throughout the weekend) with a new purse, wallet (branded with ‘Firenze’, eeek!), a keychain, and a few other goodies. I’m still obsessing over them so at least I know I made good purchases.
The rest of the day we hit the big spots: The Duomo, Florence Cathedral, the Accademia Gallery — where David resides, and even stopped at some delicious places to eat. Again, one of my absolute favorites was David. Five years ago when I walked into the gallery where David is, my heart dropped. I love art and seeing David for the second time in my short life is amazing to me.
One of the other places I absolutely adored visiting was the Florence Cathedral and the Duomo di Firenze. Both are absolutely breathtaking. Whenever I think of Florence, I think of my mother standing in front of the cathedral with the biggest smile on her face. I can remember that day down to exactly what she was wearing and the headset hanging from her ear. I remember my dad and my siblings staring up at the beautiful building in absolute awe. And being there as a twenty yearold was not any different. I was still the joy-filled-to-the-brim kid walking down the street with a huge smile plastered on my face. This time I got to climb the 414 stairs to the top of Giotto’s Bell Tower and even though it was extremely steep and claustrophobic at a couple points, the view of the city was definitely worth it.
In the end, I was so happy to have gone back to a city I knew that I loved. Florence treated me right the first time and it definitely treated me right the second time around too. Until next time, Firenze.