Florence is a beautiful and elegant city. It might be the opposite of Naples. The population feels older, fancier, and more sophisticated. There are designer shops all over the city center, not to mention the amazing museums and churches!
On our first afternoon in Florence, we went straight to the Duomo. It is so beautiful, with its pastel colors and intricate decoration. The giant octagonal dome was higher and wider than any that had ever been built in the 15th century and it is still a marvel.
I couldn’t wait to climb to the top of the dome! (We bought the expensive, but worthwhile, Firenze Cards and were able to skip the very long general ticket line.) The climb was long, with more than 400 steps in very narrow, slanting stairways, but it was thrilling!
The view exceeded my expectations! It was amazing. The red tile roofs of Florence spread out all around us and we could see the green hills and even the Alps in the distance. Once again, we were blessed with perfect weather and a very clear day. I was so happy on top of the dome!
On day two in Florence, our Firenze Cards once again saved us from the major line at the Uffizi Gallery, but it couldn’t save us from the crowds within the museum! Prior to visiting I thought the Uffizi might be my most favorite museum in the world, but instead I felt frustrated and overwhelmed inside. It was extremely crowded, hot, and it was difficult to find/see all of the masterpieces. Also, no photos inside the Uffizi. Boo!
Despite the crowds, it WAS lovely to see so many Renaissance paintings. I especially loved the Raphaels, like this Madonna of the Goldfinch. But I didn’t spend as much time in the Uffizi as I expected.
We also went to the Academia to check out Michelangelo’s David. It is huge! Seventeen feet tall! You weren’t allowed to take photos, but I snuck a quick one. There were big crowds at the Academia as well, but the Firenze Card allowed us to get in quickly. The David is so large it is easy to appreciate it even while surrounded by hundreds of other viewers.
It was fun to just stroll around Florence. I loved crossing over the Ponte Vecchio bridge over the Arno River. We grabbed sandwiches three times from I Due Fratellini, a little sandwich and wine stand near the Duomo. They were so quick and tasty. We also loved our dinner at Trattoria 4 Leoni and gelato from Gelateria Vivaldi. So good!
Overall, Florence was lovely, but I think I was overwhelmed by the tourist crowds and I don’t know if I totally absorbed it all or explored it to its fullest extent in only two days. Oh well, I will just have to return!