Just about every visitor to Italy stops in Florence. I almost didn't. In place of a trip I'd half-planned up to Mont Blanc, on the French border, Elisa convinced me that Firenze was more worth visiting. And despite its droves of tourists, overpriced tickets and two-hour queues it was well worth the two days we spent. Partly because we bought no tickets and waited in no queues.

Back in its heyday, Medici cash lured a ridiculous concentration of intelligence and talent to Florence. Among plenty others, each of the four ninja turtles spent years here, painting, sculpting, engineering and digging up dead bodies/inventing spiral helicopters in their spare time. While powerful families may have cared for little more than out-doing the gaudy palaces, churches and public piazzas of their rivals, some of history's greatest minds were at work pushing the boundaries of the Renaissance. The Old Florence we see today, much of it unchanged since the 15th century, owes itself to both groups of course.

In our wanderings, Elisa and I passed from Santa Maria Novella to the jewelry shop-lined Ponte Vechio, the closed Giardino di Boboli, the towering Bargello, the enormous Santa Croce and finally the much more enormous Gothic Duomo, lined with its spectacular colored marble facade. We covered a good 15 km in a slow 2-day meander, stopping for gelato and a raw Tuscan meal in a cozy trattoria among the old avenues. A true Ligurian, Elisa wouldn't touch the inferior focaccia.

After two sweaty days on the streets of Florence, we caught a train to the coast, hitting an umbrella-packed beach in the town of Viareggio. In the afternoon we parted ways when I hopped off the train in La Spezia. 


Valerie said...

It's hard not to like Florence, even if you do battle the long lines and ticket prices. Did you hike up to the Piazza Michaelangelo? It's so beautiful up there!

Mallory said...

"Among plenty others, each of the four ninja turtles spent years here, painting, sculpting..." Oh Joey, that is incredible, just incredible.

I am so glad you saw the Florence cathedral. I HAVE to see that, the story behind the construction of the dome is just so fascinating to me! I hope you fully appreciate all the incredible art history you got to see, at least appreciate it for me.