This post is way overdue. But I’ve been having trouble writing about it because I just honestly don’t know what to say. Firenze. I’m still not quite sure what you are, or how time has changed you. I took a short trip to what could be considered as the capital of the art world during a school break. I had been there once before with my family very shortly. And when I arrived, I tried to make the remnants within my mind reunite with the city, but it had changed beyond comprehension. Did you know that Firenze has free Wi-Fi in virtually every piazza? Every one. And every single space in the city, the churches, the libraries, the hallways, the courtyards, even the bathrooms have paid entries? You can’t go anywhere without being bombarded with audio guides or ticket booth attendees.
Firenze is what I’d like to call a museum city. The preservation laws are insane; I DARE you to find one building front that doesn’t beckon to renaissance or baroque backgrounds. The streets aren’t streets, they’re floors. They’re so clean that you could eat Lampredotto off of them.
Admittedly, the broad avenues, the outdoor markets, the facades, the ambiance, the river, all of these things are amazing. And you will ask yourself how you could ever learn more, see more, do more anywhere else. But the little city of Firenze has the potential to be extremely deceptive. For example, that house of Dante that you took pictures at and proudly stowed away into your camera’s memory bank. That house was constructed way after Dante. Way, way after. Even though it looks rusticated and old and like Dante sat at the decrepit old wood desk furiously scribbling away on pieces of vellum. Firenze has been reconstructed to look constructed. To look like a ruin. Everything’s on display. It is a museum city.
We made trips to the Boboli gardens, whose melancholy grandeur made us feel like blades of grass in the Eurasian Taiga. We walked humbly in the steps of Medici kings and troubled artistic souls like those of moody Michelangelo and the meek Fra Angelico. We got lost in the swarms of polyglotic pedestrians whose eyes like lighthouses surveyed every last alley. Did these things coo the overwhelming scent of freshly exchanged euros and bloated fanny packs? Absolutely.
Glide through the Uffizi, watch religion, war and the robustness of human progress fly by in a matter of hours. Marvel at the magnificence of the view from atop Santa Maria del Fiore (and the bell tower, because you bought the combined ticket!) And if you’re me, drool over the leather goods and artisanal gelato. Lick your chops in approval of the homemade Stracotto and the thick sanguine Florentine steaks. Walk everywhere. Florence has so much to offer, and it’s all a stone’s throw away. Don’t forget your walking shoes. And don’t forget to sit just downstream from the Ponte Vecchio under Tuscan starshine. The slow churn of the water rolling by and the ripple of Vespa lights skipping along the surface will leave you mesmerized. Sit a bit, breathe through the rhythm of the river, and meld with the richness of the city.