Florence

            My sister met me in Rome towards the end of the program. After packing up all of my things and saying by to my friends, classmates, and the amazing city that I called home for a month, the two of us headed for Florence. This was going to be my second trip to Florence. During the program our group went there for the weekend. Almost everyone I spoke to prior to coming to Italy said that Florence was their favorite city in Italy so I was very excited to go there. I was also looking forward to being in the birthplace of the Renaissance. During my Italian art class in Rome my professor prepared us for our museum visits. It was great to learn about the pieces we would see to have a better understanding of the context in which they were made and the importance and impact they had on art history. Our first stop in Florence was the Academia to see Michelangelo’s David. This has the reputation of being the most famous sculpture in all of art history, and it certainly did not let me down. Its overall scale and perfection were incredible to see.  There are not many other famous pieces in the museum so we all spent the majority of our time staring at David. The next place we went to was the Uffizi museum. Anyone visiting Florence must go here! It was one of the best art collections I have ever seen. So many important works are all in one place. Giotto’s Madonna and Child was one of my favorites. Seeing it in person is a completely different experience than seeing it in a textbook or online. The famous pieces Birth of Venus and Primavera by Botticelli are in the Uffizi as well as some early works by Leonardo da Vinci, just to name a few. I liked the museum so much that I waited in line to go back a second time when I came back to Florence with my sister.
            Another important thing to see in Florence is the Baptistery with the famous bronze doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Across from the Baptistery is the Cathedral with the famous dome. While the inside of the cathedral is breathtaking, my favorite part was climbing to the top of the dome. The steps were very steep, hot, and narrow, but it was all worth it. At the top of the dome there is the most incredible view of Florence and the surrounding hills.
Florence Cathedral. Under construction but still beautiful!

View of Florence from the top of the Dome
            After seeing the main art historical an architectural sites, my sister and I spent most of our time wondering around the streets. Florence is famous for leather goods, so we both knew we wanted to find something special to take home. There are several outdoor markets filled with every type of leather good imaginable. You can find everything from leather bracelets for one euro to nice shoes and bags for a few hundred euros. The markets can be a little overwhelming, so we ended up doing most of our shopping in stores. After searching for the perfect items for our first three days in Florence, we finally made our purchases on our last day. I ended up buying a leather bag and my sister bought leather gloves and sandals. While we purchased all new items, Florence has amazing vintage boutiques hidden all over the city. Overall, I found that in Florence everything was simple. I mean this in the sense that we could walk everywhere and everything was easy to find. We could walk in to almost any store or restaurant and find something good, where as in Rome you have to do a little bit more work to find the authentic meals and great shopping. My sister and I spent our last night in Florence watching the sunset at the Piazzale Michelangelo, which overlooks the whole city, followed by an amazing meal along the Arno River. The city lived up to my expectations and I hope I return sometime in the future.
Looking down the Arno River at sunset

View of Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

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