Whenever I yearn for a mental getaway framed in water, laced with art, spritzed with lively tables adorned with delectable Tuscan wine and savory dishes, Florence naturally surfaces. Once experienced, images of Florentine life ~ rooftops, bridges, museums, outdoor sculptures, trattorias, steeples and spires ~ remain forever imbedded. For this edition, photos better than words more succinctly capture the visual parade the embodies this mesmerizing medieval city.
Benvenuto a Firenze!
With one day to scan the city, the many Medici palaces, Michelangelo’s David in Galleria dell’Accademia, and cornucopia of omnipresent churches would have to wait. Lines were long, time was short. What to do? Walk briskly, eat, drink, seek gelato!
Starting from our Westin Excelsior Hotel on Piazza Ognissanti, we headed straight to Porto Veccho, chockablock with gold merchants ~
Once across, we fortuitously stumbled upon Caffe d’Oro where the wine was fortifying, lite bites of caprese with tuna framed in fresh olives, divine. Living up to its name, the views were golden ~
Strolling over the bustling bridge, we trekked on to Uffizi Gallery. Surrounded by Renaissance masters on Piazza della Signoria, we lingered amid towering bronze sculptures, entranced by these timeless monumental gifts from Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, DaVinci, Botticelli.
Street life in Firenze is a whirl of locals, tourists, kiosk traders, sidewalk cafes, and of course – gelato! Life’s essentials include breathing, water, food, shelter – and gelato. A non-negotiable travel goal is to sample every flavor created. Much work to do! Fortunately, one does not have to tread far to fall into a Florentine gelateria. Here’s one which measured up to a taste of heaven ~
Hours of walking stirred up an appetite. Mangiamo! Off we went in search of sustenance, Italian style. Following fragrant scents of garlic, herbs with flavors soon to be discovered, our purposeful walk led us into a gigantic courtyard, dotted with cafes, anchored by a towering steepled church, checkered with couples embracing on her steps. With a plethora of awnings and tented tables from which to choose, a smiling server helped make the decision. For starters, a luscious bottle of Chianti Classico, followed by fresh greens and figs drizzled with house made dressing. Star attraction: a mammoth plate of tagliatelle topped with porcini sauce, favoloso! Upon savoring every bite, we meandered back toward our hotel neighborhood, soaking up the visual feast that, like the Arno, flows through Florence.
The SE-STO rooftop bar at the Westin Excelsior Hotel is not to be missed, day or night. Spectacular afternoon landscapes with panoramic vistas feature the Duomo as centerpiece~
…later, sunset gives way to illuminated nocturnal murals with sparkling streetlights along the Arno. By night, the rooftop café is softly lit to allow for frame perfect photography without backlight interference. We sat overlooking a river in repose amid lively multi lingual chatter, treated to the radiance of twilight Firenze.
Regrettably, too short a stay for so epic a city. Next trip, enroute almost anywhere in Europe, a stopover in Florence will figure prominently – with gelato.
Alla prossima, Firenze!