We arrived in Florence to a spacious apartment just a half a block from the Duomo. While a duomo is by name a cathedral, it takes on more significance in Florence as it is the center of the historic city. In addition to the cathedral engineered by Brunelleschi, there are the equally admirable Campanile (bell tower) and Baptistry. One could look at the doors of the Baptistry (referred to as the Gates of Paradise) for hours. But there is much more in Florence. There are several beautiful piazzas each typically having a riduculously beautiful church with the piazza lined with outdoor cafes for people to relax and admire the beauty with a cafe or Chianti. But Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance so it is not only filled with beautiful old buildings and piazzas but museums with incredible artwork. We visited the Accademia Galeria that has Michelangelo's David which really is a masterpiece and must be seen up close. (There are two replicas of David in Florence - one in the Piazzale Michelangelo which is across the Arno River looking over the city, and one in the Piazza Della Signore. But nothing compares to the original.) At the Piazza Della Signire is the original Statue - Rape of the Sabines. A replica is in the Academia. This depicts a part of Roman mythology where the men of Rome abducted young women from neighboring cities. (My favorite depiction is in the Borghese in Rome by Bernini.). We also went to the Uffizi which has many masterpieces including DaVinci's Annunzione, Botticelli's Primavera (sorry if some of the spellings and names are slightly off) and Birth of Venus. DaVinci's Annunzione is unlike most depictions because here, when the angel comes to make the announcement to the Virgin Mary, she doesn't act surprised or humble as in most depictions. The Uffizi also has amazing views of the Ponte Veccio and the Arno.
My favorite thing to do in a city like Florence is to get lost on the little streets and discover some artisan shop, or to stop for a glass of Chianti and people watch.
We met up with my good friends Andrea and Liana who live in Florence and we went to Il Giova the first night, a small local bistro and had a leisurely four hour dinner. The antipasti was amazing - local meats (don't even think it was like something you'd buy at Trader Joes or I'll cut you) and cheeses as well as little fried bread balls and flaky puff pastry bites with cheese in them. We also got fried squash blossoms. I had sliced filet layered with mozzarella cheese for my secondi. It was amaze balls. I got a picture with Liana but we had such a good time we forgot to take a group picture. Sad face. Andrea had a gig out of town later in our stay so we met up with Liana again and she took us to a really cool place along side the Arno River called Easy Living Firenze which is a completely outdoor restaurant and there is also a bar down on the beach. It was all locals and it was nice to get away from the throngs of tourists.
We walked for miles and enjoyed the sites and ate pastries every morning and shared salads and pasta for lunch with a 1/2 liter or so of vino Bianco. Sorry I didn't take more pictures. I was in Florence two years ago and took a ton! Off on the train to Cinque Terre next.