Florence [wikipedia.org] was Candice and my base of operation for more then a week. A full third of our honeymoon was spent in a small converted bishops apartment just off the Piazza del Duomo. Just far enough off that if you stuck your head out of our third story windows and stretched your neck enough you could see the dome and maybe part of the bapistry [wikipedia.org]. Actually the location was brilliant, the only problem was the constant lack of water pressure in the hotel shower!
I thought that using Florence as a base of operations from which to visit some of the other must-see cities of Tuscany [wikipedia.org] easy. Unfortunately the reality is that the best way to get to places like Siena [wikipedia.org] and San Gimignano is to take a variety of buses—but the trips there are really worth it, in fact we should have stayed overnight (remember the sun was setting at 4:30ish so everything closed by 3:30… And taking buses means we did not get there till almost lunch time if we got out of bed at 5:00am!). At least Pisa [wikipedia.org] is on the train line.
But enough about the other cities in Tuscany, Florence is the city in Tuscany. You could spend months here and not exhaust the city if you wanted. The Florence Cathedral [wikipedia.org] aka Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore with Brunelleshi‘s [wikipedia.org] iconic dome dominates the city visually and the Uffizi Gallery [wikipedia.org] and the Accademia di Belle Arti [wikipedia.org] dominate it culturally. Between the two you can see some very nice works by all the Ninja Turtles—Leonardo, Donatello, M——angelo and Raphael. And more renaissance art than anyone without a PhD in art history can appreciate!
Then you have Palazzo Vecchio [wikipedia.org], Ponte Vecchio [wikipedia.org], the Palazzo Pitti [wikipedia.org] and Santa Croce [wikipedia.org] home to more famous only-one-name-needed dead people than you can shake a coffin at; Galileo [wikipedia.org], Michelangelo [wikipedia.org], Machiavelli [wikipedia.org] and (for the physics geeks,) Fermi [wikipedia.org]… oh yea, it’s got a lot of art too. And all this is just scratching the surface of Florence’s museums, churches, palaces and various other old things.
And let’s not forget that Florence is a living city! Within the small town center where most of the above super-attractions are located in easy walking distance from each other you can also find some very fine dinning. Candice and I like two places especially; the I Buongustai di Casini Laura e Lucia and the Birreria Centrale (which is where J——- and K– had dinner with me a few hours after they got engaged in 2002—still there, still great!) And while I love the food at both places I have a hard time deciding if the food was better than the ‘oh my god! I can’t get enough of it,’ gelato [wikipedia.org] at Festival de Gelato! A hundred flavors! Heaven! Eat your heart out Ben and Jerry!
Florence is definitely my favorite Italian city. But once again Candice and my enjoyment of the city was tempered by the early sunsets and cold weather. And in Florence we had to contend with the Thanksgiving holiday tourists from the US. I can’t tell you how many times I heard college types talk about where they were going to drink or how good the pizza was (or wasn’t as the case may be.) But even with all that Florence was still great! Maybe I’ll get back one day. Maybe I can move there!
You can see the full Florence, Italy, November 2007 photoset on Flickr [flickr.com].