This is my second to the last entry for the Big Blog Exchange and like I told my partner Marcela, I honestly think I was given the best assignment. Sure I sound like I’m so biased but there’s just so much inspiration I could soak up in the ten days that I’ve been in Italy! If you want to know what I mean, you could check out the previous cities I’ve visited here:
1/ Milano (Milan) on Fotostrasse, my exhange partner’s blog
2/ Vicenza on Fotostrasse
3/ Burano, Venezia (Burano Island in Venice)
4/ Venezia (Venice)
5/ Tuscan Region
6/ Napoli (Naples)
7/ Roma (Rome Part 2)
Since today is all about Florence and artworks, I just thought it might be nice to insert a post about finding your own art style. Even if the Renaissance artists belong to a certain genre, you could definitely tell that each one had their own different signature way of going about things.
I won’t elaborate on this first. I’ll talk about this again in a new blog post before the year ends but just remember these lessons.
So, today, I’m taking you to Florence. I actually couldn’t believe how pretty the city is I ended up asking one of the tour guides if they still manage to fall in love with other places if they were surrounded by this every single day!? Here are some 10 things to do in Florence if you only had one day! I swear, this is just a tiny chunk because I still haven’t covered Mercato Centrale & the leather market!?
1. Treat yourself to a breath-taking view of the city of Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square)
It’s actually awesome that they had a balcony built for the city just so that you can indulge yourself with the view of the rooftops, the Arno river and of course the Florence Cathedral! You can actually just take a city bus to get there.
What you’re staring at right now is the cathedral of Florence. The dome was constructed by Filippo Brunelleschi WITHOUT a scaffolding! Rumor has it that he didn’t want to be copied so he didn’t write anything down and he visited the site daily to make the necessary adjustments. This is a valuable lesson from the Renaissance for netizens & iCloud users.
2. Admire the intricate details of the Basilica di Santa Maira del Fiore (Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower).
Details are always easy to miss when you’re hurrying up and you just want a photo of yourself and a landmark. Take your time and soak up all the inspiration!
Can you see how they made marble look like actual cloth down to the tiny frills and lace details?
Just stunned by the ballet like positions of the arms of the angels–so graceful! They remind me of contemporary dance.
If you can spot a tiny square on the left of the Basilica, that is under construction, that’s the originally where the statue of David was meant to be placed.
3. Familiarize yourself with Italian food & desserts! – When in Italy, have a gelato…every single day. I’m guilty of doing that. *Eep!*
Something I also ate almost every day is Prosciutto!
Italian food is colorful without even trying! Fruits, cream, herbs, cheeses and pasta just completes the palette.
4. Indulge your senses with the sights & sounds of the Streets of Florence - Just imagine walking in an Italian city complete with a soundtrack.
You’ll also see artworks being sold in the streets and I wish I actually had the time to sit down, paint the whole scene & occupy a huge canvas! ❤
5. Visit the Accademia Gallery - Honestly, I wasn’t really a huge fan of the Statue of David even though a lot of friends were telling me that I should see it. I’ve seen replicas and I didn’t know how the real thing was any different.
Apparently, David was depicted here before his battle with Goliath and this piece was constructed on one of the more difficult-to-manage type of marbles where there was practically no room for errors! Aside from the statue of David, you will see the last few unfinished works of Leonardo da Vinci who lived an incredibly long life of 67 years back in the time when the average lifespan was 35 years!
Not to miss are gilded paintings with subjects that reflected the main industry of the Florentine economy–elaborate textiles. Now, if I could get my hands on one of those, and turn it into an evening gown. ❤❤ *You can tell, I’m officially daydreaming.*
6. Relive the Renaissance Era – You’re practically at the seat of the Reinaissance–a time when artists wanted to compete with each other and didn’t care much about what the subject was all about ranging from rape to torture. It was a time when it was all about the human form–the more difficult the position, the better!
Just outside the Palazzio Vecchio, you will find a replica of the David of MichelAngelo as well as sculptures with an incredible focus on anatomy & proportions!
7. Book a Private Tour – After our group tour in the morning, I’m actually very grateful that AIG Hostels has booked for me a private tour in the afternoon. This was the second private tour I’ve ever had in my life–the first one was in Milan with Marco Discalzi of Walkabout Milan. I spent the entire afternoon with my guide Barbara Morelli of Guida Firenze. She shared so much about the Ufizzi Gallery and now, it has become my favorite. If you go around a museum alone, you’ll take things as they are. But, when you’re with a guide who speaks passionately about the details and trivia about the place, then it’s something else. You get to imagine & recreate the place during its golden years!
I know, I know. Another photo of a ceiling of a dome. But, Italian architects are particularly fond of building these things and this one from the Room of Wonders was particularly lined with pearl decorations!
8. Send Postcards to Yourself – I did a postcard giveaway for my Instagram readers but it’s also refreshing to send postcards to your friends & family–and especially yourself. Why? I know it’s weird when you come to think of it? Why talk to yourself? The thing is, you won’t really remember everything by the time you get home from a trip even if you have tons of pictures. I usually tell myself what made my day or how I felt at that time. You will find a lot of post offices and mailboxes allover Italy and this is definitely some fun thing to do!
Here’s a postcard of one of my favorite paintings by Sandro Boticelli called Primavera. It’s a symbolic painting funded by Lorenzo d’ Medici and it contains a lot of symbols about Florence & the Renaissance from the clothes, the fruits in the background and the tiny plants on the floor as explained to me by my guide Barbara.
Postcards: Paintings of Scenes from Venice & Florence
The Uffizi Gallery at Night
9. Witness how the Medici Family has shaped Florence and how it has influenced its artistic landscape. - Most of the works have been commissioned by their family.
The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. The Uffizi gallery also houses the works of masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaelo Sanzio and Michelangelo and one of the teachers of Leonardo, Andrea del Verrocchio to name a few. Now, you know why it’s my favorite gallery!
10. Get lost in the Sidestreets – As I was trying to locate my bus stop on my way back to Villa Camerata Hostel, I walked past the Vasari corridor, it’s an elevated pathway where the Medici family used to walk from one palace to another for security reasons. It starts from the Palazzo Vecchio and ends at Palazzo Pitti.
I chanced upon some interesting water fountains and an art store (that was closed)! Oh well. But I swear, the streets of Florence are equally charming and it definitely brings you back to another time.
So there you have it, 10 things to do in Florence if you only had a day! The nice thing about this city is you can also use this as a jump off point if you’re planning to visit Sienna and if you want to see more of the Tuscan region.
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