During our summer in Europe last year, we met an Italian guy and told him we were enroute to Cinque Terre.
He then spoke about his home country and said, You must visit Florence. Florence is an open gallery itself – beautiful! he exclaimed, in the usual excited Italian manner.
I got what that person meant when I stepped foot into Florence.
Florence is the centre of the Italian Renaissance and the city is still steeped in its history, with traces of that period trailing all over the place.
So pardon my pun, but really, the art of discovering Florence is to appreciate the city itself as an artwork.
And here’s how you can get the most out of Florence…
Be prepared to walk. To fully appreciate the beauty of Florence, you will have to walk through the city, and climb up the hill!
But take your time. Even when the sun sets early in winter, Florence is still as beautiful.
Be ready for the crowds. Even during the off-peak season of winter, Florence is still teeming with tourists. So be prepared to jostle with the crowds, whether you are walking through the streets, queuing up for the famous Uffizi Gallery, admiring the view atop Piazzale Michelangelo or taking a day trip to Pisa. And remember that you’re in Italy – so be watchful for pickpockets!
Be careful of tourist traps. There are lots of restaurants/cafes/gelato shops in the touristy areas but be warned, the prices are usually jacked up. Unfortunately, we fell victim to those traps – exorbitant prices for low quality food. So do your research if you want a good Italian meal!
Be like a local. I like rooming with AirBnB because that usually gives you a sense on how the locals live. And Florence was no exception. We got to live in a local’s apartment and while our trip was quite packed, we took the time to find the local supermarket and stock up for breakfast the next day. So we took some time to relax in the apartment the next morning and munch on those local delicacies for breakfast. That turned out to be a simple but memorable meal for us.
Be an art lover. Like what I said before, you have to look at Florence as a work of art itself. So even if you don’t consider yourself an enthusiast of the arts, just be one for a day in Florence. Just soak in the Renaissance atmosphere, and you will find yourself walking in history for moment.
And that, would be the art of uncovering the beauty of Florence. And along the way, if you haven’t realise it before, you are bound to discover the inner art-lover in you as well.