Morning time in Florence was my favorite. It was so peaceful. Ben and I took a long walks around town to catch the morning sun before the crowds arose. There was a major movie being filmed on the iconic Ponte Vecchio but we were early enough in the morning to get in before all of the roads closed.
The Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge in Florence. It crosses the Arno River. It was the only bridge in Florence that was not destroyed when the Germans were retreating from the British during WWII. I’m so glad that this beautiful bridge was spared!
It is said that the economic concept of bankruptcy originated on the Ponte Vecchio: when a money-changer could not pay his debts, the table on which he sold his wares (the “banco”) was physically broken (“rotto”) by soldiers, and this practice was called “bancorotto” (broken table; possibly it can come from “banca rotta” which means “broken bank”). Not having a table anymore, the merchant was not able to sell anything.
The filming prevented us from returning the way we came, so we took the road less traveled. We stumbled upon this building by accident. Sometimes just wandering helps you find the most amazing things. How cool is that design!?!
Florence is famed for its gorgeous leather goods. We took a walk through the leather marked and I was tempted to buy one of everything!
You can’t go to Florence without stopping in to see the David at the Galleria dell’Accademia.
I was blown away by how tall the David statue was. I had always pictured something lifesize but the pedestal started above everyone’s head. I think we would have been at knee height if he was on the ground.
Nighttime in Florence was almost as magical as the early mornings. Florence is a city that really comes alive at night. The narrow streets and busy plazas are filled with people just hanging out with friends and merchants trying to take advantage of the large groups. Restaurants pour out onto the sidewalks and the beautiful buildings are lit late into the night. We made the mistake of attempting to drive in to the Airbnb that we were staying in. The road in the photo below is one of the streets we had to take. It pretty much meant creeping through crowds of people and squeezing into narrow streets. We drove in places that I would have never dreamed of driving down in the US. In the US they would have been designated as pedestrian only roads, but in Florence, you just share all of the space! If you are driving, I recommend parking at a lot outside of the main town or just take the train in!
The most impressive building in Florence was the Duomo. It’s technically named Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, but everyone refers to it as Il Duomo di Firienze.
Did I mention how huge it is???
It took 16 years to build the brick dome of the Duomo. It is still the largest masonry dome in the world. It was breathtaking to look up at
Navigating around Florence was a total nightmare for us. It wasn’t until we hit our third day that we finally wrapped our minds around the layout of the city. It is very walkable, but the long narrow corridors made it hard for us to figure out if we were going in the right direction. Once we figured it out we totally fell in love with the city, but that first night was so stressful. We were staying at an incredible Airbnb right in the heart of downtown. Due to getting lost we didn’t end up arriving until almost midnight, hours after we were supposed to be there. We dropped our bags and headed out in search of something to eat for dinner only to find everything was closed or closing. We managed to talk one lovely restaurant owner into boxing up some already prepared food for us to eat to go. We didn’t have any choice of what we got to eat, but at that point it no longer mattered. We clutched our takeout like it was gold and headed up the insane stairs to the roof of our Airbnb. As we tucked into cold Italian meatballs & rabbit, sitting on dirty, rickety chairs on this rooftop overlooking the Duomo lit up at night, the church bells began to chime midnight. It ended up being one of my favorite meals we had together. To me, that night really epitomized the importance of Ben & I traveling together. It has taught us how to deal with hard situations, how to appreciate the quiet moments & the reward that comes at the end of hard times.