If one spends some time in Europe, Florence is one city that you would want to spend more than few days. And that is true for a number of reasons: for its culture, history, museums, food, and just simply Florence itself!
The moment I arrived in Florence, I could tell this was one of the most touristy areas…for throughout the entire day I spent in Florence I heard more English than Italian. It’s no surprise, considering that this city is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, said Forbes. In 1982, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. (Somehow there is a trend to all my visits in Europe, I didn’t plan it but it turns out I’m visiting mostly cities that are World Heritage Sites! No wonder they are all popular and famous..and beautiful!) Well here I was finally!
There are a number of things people recommend you MUST do in Florence. If anyone wants more detailed guidance on that, I suggest you check out those blogs, tourist sites, and more, but I can tell you at least what I decided to do within my limited time was good enough to have a good sense of beautiful Florence.
This is what I did:
1. Went to Galleria degli Uffizi to admire art – one of the world’s most famous fine art museums with collections of Renaissance paintings and sculptures from classic antiquity. It is simply lovely and quite big. Though the price was costly and the line was long, it was so worth the trip. If I had more time, I would have done one or two more of it, or get the FLORENCE CARD to get discounted access. If you go for more than two days, you should do the CARD deal, you’ll save quite a bit in both time and money!
Even the hallway to each gallery exhibition is beautiful. No wonder it is famous and has a long line. But since photos are prohibited at this site, these are the only two photos I could take here. The others you will have to see in person next time! And do plan to spend at least a good two-hour or more if you want to.
2. Went up the Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Duomo di Firence, to see the city view – this is the city’s beautiful white unique cathedral which is also known to be a symbol of the city. It’s hard to miss, but what one should do is take the 464 steps up the cathedral to see the city, Florence! You can also take the Giotto’s Tower which is 414 step, but I suggest you to do the Duomo’s because you get to also see the inner part of the Cathedral.
This is the actual Duomo…
And this the amazing city view you can see from the Duomo!
In fact, when you walk up the Duomo, you get a sense of the city view through the window as you take each step…simply beautiful.
And this is the inner part of the Cathedral’s ceiling you can see when you walk up the Duomo!!
3. Looked out and walked over the Ponte Vecchio – this is the oldest and most famous bridge over the Arno and is the only Florentine bridge to survive World War II. (According to history, Hitler specifically ordered not to destroy this bridge, unlike all the other ones that was destroyed during the Germans retreat of August 4, 1944.) The word Ponte Vecchio literally means Old Bridge and is lovely from both the outside and of the bridge itself. From the outside you get to enjoy the unique architecture, and when you cross the bridge, you get to see traditional jewellers and stores lined up.
I even witnessed a couple taking wedding photos at this place!
4. Went up to the Piazzale Michelangelo to enjoy the city view of Florence! – if you don’t want to pay to go see the city view from one of the places in the city center (OR even if you did do that, this is a strong must!) I had to walk a bit to reach there, but others can easily reach there via bus or car. It’s basically a big square on a hill that is a slight distance from the main city center. Hence, you are easily able to see the entire city view. If you are spending a night there, a friend who traveled here before suggests one to make this trip here at night. Not only do you get to see a pretty view, you may see others enjoying this romantic moment…do go with your loved ones.
There is also the copy of the Michelangelo’s statue! (Yup, the name of the Piazzle is not that random as you thought.)
Plus on your way to the site you get to see some fun stuff like this:
5. Ate Italian PIZZA and Italian Gelato! – I don’t think I need to describe the joy of this two delicious MUSTs of Italy. I missed having both from my last visit to Italy that I had to return.
But as every city, there is a con side to this city: TOO MANY TOURISTS. In fact, I heard from one German who was living in Florence for few months that most local Italians actually move out of the main city area (which is the main touristy areas) because of all these tourists. It’s a piety to realize that the city has become such a “over-touristic site.” I wonder what it would become if it continues to accelerate selling its city to tourism in this degree.
The EUmonitor International ranked the city as the world’s 72nd most visited in 2009 with 1,685,000 visitors. But it is this tourism industry that helps maintain Florence’s economy. In 2008, the city had the 17th highest average income in Italy thanks to tourism. That is not hard to tell because literally every tourist attracts require some form of entry fee…and not only is the price high the line were really long. In fact, its long lines are so famous that people recommend you buy the tickets in advance. I bought one early ticket (in which you would pay an extra 4 euro for it) and still had to wait in line for an extra hour or so to enter the Uffizy Gallery.
Yet, no matter what, this was Florence. The city where one finds love, where one is inspired, and where you will be dazzled by something that you would have never realized..! Though I didn’t enjoy the fact that it was packed with tourists and the extremely hot weather, I still enjoyed my full day there! As you see from some of my photos below, every time I press my camera, you get a magnificent view of the city.