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The train chugged on, leaving us on the platform in a cloud of grey smoke. At that moment I knew that Firenze was going to be much more than I had anticipated.
The station, with its high ceilings and towering rusty pillars tainted with history, loomed over my family and me. A feeling of foreign eccentricity washed over us.
Delicious Food of Florence
Having arrived as the sun was setting, we were famished. We headed to the nearest pizza place. It happened to be an outdoor space bustling with teenagers and roaring with laughter, contrasting its plain red-white checkered theme.
When the food arrived, the very sight of the mozzarella drizzling from the piping hot crusts had us salivating. Before long, the four of us were devouring the olive and tomato-infused dough. Rolling the slices and finishing in a few bites, exactly like the locals.
A comforting homeliness settled, intertwined with the aroma of Margherita pizza.
The following morning, we were greeted with a buffet. There was a variety of cheese with little placards stating some undecipherable names and a display of some succulent Fettunta.
Being an overly enthusiastic tourist, I had made a list of some “must-have” dishes in every part of Italy. Bruschetta (also called Fettunta), the original garlic bread drizzled with a generous amount of olive oil and shredded cheese, was high on the priority list.
Passion, Art & Architecture
As we set off on our day in Florence, the warm sunlight coupled with the cold Mid-June wind made it difficult to tackle my hat as we walked down the cobbled pathways. Friendly locals, with their warm welcoming waves, helped guide us to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (also known widely as Duomo di Firenze).
My first thought, that hit me like a tide was, “I didn’t expect it to make me feel so tiny.” From far off, it looked like classic Italian architecture consisting of a merging of Roman-Gothic styles. But, upon closer inspection, the intricacy and detail stole my breath away.
Specks of juniper green and scarlet, in the designs of the depicted figures, both stood out and completed the masterpiece. There was no doubt of the passion and skill of the architects. Clearly, long periods of time were spent sculpting away, displaying their marvelous skills and putting their talents up for millions to see.
It also made me think of Dan Brown’s book Angels and Demons, my mind whirring at the beauty of it all.
Tracing the map with squinted eyes, we finally ended up in Uffizi Gallery, only to realize the ticket booths had closed a while ago. Anxious to not waste the trip, we decided to roam Loggia Dei Lanzi.
Here we observed Italian art students who had ventured there and were engrossed in recreating paintings of the structures on view.
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Most of the sculptures were carved with precision, emulating the folds and curves of a real human being. However, it was the charcoal black sculpture of Perseus gripping the slain Medusa’s head that most astounded me.
It had a silky-smooth texture of chiseled muscles and a tinge of green every time the sun rays skimmed over it that left me awe-struck.
A Magical Evening at Ponte Vecchio
Having swooned over Roman architecture and rambled on about the Roman myths regarding each piece of art, we headed to a nearby Gelato place. We indulged ourselves with syrupy gelato, thick with flavor and immersed in an overwhelming velvety sweetness.
I chose a scoop of espresso, rich with the taste of coffee and creamy cocoa beans, along with a scoop of chocolate mocha. The vibrant colors complimented each other so well that I melted my gelato in the process of some intense food photography.
Despite the long day, the air and serenity in Florence keep anyone from getting weary of walking and the views keep it exciting and adventurous.
As the sun descended, groups of teenagers appeared on the streets reverberating with euphoria. Middle-aged people walked on after a long day of hustling, radiating a surging aura of hopeful dreams.
A common feature of all the locals was the subtle smile dancing on their lips and the warmth they gave off in the slightest whispers of “Ciao.” My day planner dangling from my fingertips, we found ourselves at the last scheduled sight of our day in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio.
The medieval arch bridge built over the Arno River dates back approximately 670 years making it one of the oldest of its kind. Through all the storms and turmoil it has remained upright proving its endurance.
As my eyes wandered over its ethereal stonework, the intoxicating aroma of pastries and fresh buns wafted in the chilly night wind. The rambling of hawkers with their souvenir baskets rippled through the trance the bridge had everyone under.
Night had fallen. The sky was a dark navy with the slightest shimmer of stars. Ponte Vecchio was filled with couples, solitary individuals and families. A beautiful tapestry of locals and tourists, all lost in their own thoughts.
Before long, a street musician took up his guitar and strummed the first notes to a song. The words were unfamiliar yet I would want no other words muttered at that very moment.
His husky voice echoed in absolute sync with the melody his fingers smoothly wavered over, the tune resonating all day through the streets of Florence.
Read about other romantic towns & cities around Europe
Love Is All Around in Florence
My glance lingered on the people- the brunette woman in her late thirties. Her hair streaked with white and her face streaked with the remnants of dried tears. Trembling fingers clutched at her own waist as if giving herself the embrace she craved. Perhaps thinking of the love she had held so close but lost.
A couple in their early twenties, fingers intertwined and eyes gazing into the depths of each other. Possibly muttering silent prayers for the blazing flames of love to never get extinguished.
An elderly woman gripping her clutch, an incomplete smile left on her chapped lips, perhaps reminiscing on the love she once visited this place with.
Finally, a handsome Middle Eastern young man in his teens, his face shadowed by a shade of melancholy. Maybe wishing for love or drowned in memories of where he came from.
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Then there is my family, A brown family with children staring with wonder at a marvel thousands of miles from their motherland. Gratitude coursing through their bloodstream at being able to experience this moment.
Every single person each day is hypnotized by the magic of Florence. Strangers to each other, from different places around the globe, not speaking the same language, yet bound by the undeniable love that resided within each.
A love for architecture and history. An appreciation for different cuisines and flavors. The desire for affection and memories to live by. Woven together by the unquenchable thirst of adventure.
I stood there, charmed by the beauty bestowed upon this Earth. Finally feeling as though, in this sea of strangers whom I knew nothing about, I belonged. I finally felt at home. It was a perfect end to our day on Florence.
Must Visit Places:
- Uffizi Gallery
- Loggia Dei Lanzi
- Ponte Vecchio
- Duomo di Firenze
- Dante’s House
- Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence
- Accademia Gallery (Michelangelo’s David in here!)
- Fountain of Neptune
- Palatine Gallery
- Ristorante II David (Every foodie’s dream come true)
- Train to Pisa to see The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Book This Trip
Don’t miss our Italy Travel Guide with information on what else to see and do in Italy.
Start planning your trip to the iconic city of Florence, Italy today. You can get prepared with hotel or VRBO reservations, local restaurant reviews, insider knowledge on how to get around and more through TripAdvisor and Travelocity.
Then plan out your plane tickets and ground transportation around Italy all in one place with OMIO.
Author’s Bio: Born in the capital of the tiny country Bangladesh, Samia harbors an unquenchable adventurous spirit and dreams of traveling all around the globe. When not busy studying as a first-year university student majoring in Criminology, she adores talking about her experiences, making plans for her next trips and spilling her thoughts on ink. A huge food and travel enthusiast unable to muster up the courage to open a travel blog and upgrade from sentimental Instagram travel stories.