Italian and culture in Florence!
Florence is totally, utterly, completely… incredible! Wow. It is THE city of renaissance. Which, (unless you are a super history buff) might not mean much until you arrive… but then you arrive, and… Wow!!
As you can tell, when I arrived in Florence, I was lost for words. You might start your time, like I did, by going for a stroll across the famous Ponte Vecchio. And as you wander along this centuries-old bridge, which is lined with centuries-old shops, and feels like a street, apart from when the shops part for a view of the River Arno either side of you, you start to think; my god, this is amazing, I have never seen anything like this in my life! You can then stop to take in the view down the Arno from the bridge, and you’ll be thinking; wow, this view of the city is awesome, and look, I can even see the dome of that massive duomo church thing from here! (Ha ha, which I later discovered is more accurately known as Bruneschelli’s dome). So then, you get to the other side of the bridge, all the time soaking up the lively, bustling atmosphere. Sightseers mixing with Florentines, mixed in with the buzzing of little mopeds zipping along the cobbled roads.
Then you stroll a bit further into the historical streets of the city, and you are always being tempted by the yummy looking ice-cream parlours, (in fact, did you know that Florence claims the first ever ice-cream?!), and the delicious smells of freshly baked pizza. You can look up and you’ll see that the tall buildings lining the cobbled side-streets, and casting a shade from the fantastic Florence sunshine, are just really beautiful. Then, before you know it, the quaint cobbled side street opens out into a magnificent Piazza… Florence is a truly breathtaking city!
You know, I don’t think it even matters which one of Florence’s many spectacular sites you happen upon first. It could be the Piazza della Signora complete with its totally convincing replica of the David or the Palazzo Vecchio with its ginormous historic bell in the centre – they are all amazing! I didn’t even use my map when I was in Florence – if you just follow the gentle flow of foot traffic you will nearly always end up in one of the breathtaking Piazza’s or outside the Duomo, or at a lovely spot along the river Arno. This was one of my favourite things about Florence – the fact you could explore the city on foot so easily. And the relaxed pace of life made it so pleasurable just to go with the flow and meander from my fun morning of Italian classes to a lovely trattoria for a long lunch with my classmates, before then taking a stroll through the beautiful sites the city has to offer, poking around in all the interesting little shops and market stands, practicing my Italian on the unsuspecting friendly locals … and sometimes even giving into the craving for one of the yummy ice-creams! The school could not have been better located, just 2 minutes walk from the Ponte Vecchio, in a beautiful historic building, with views over the river. I was studying right in the centre of this beautiful city!
I loved every second of my time in Florence. If you have an interest in art or history, then it is paradise! However, you don’t even need to enter any of the museums, or churches, or galleries to be utterly blown away by the city. The atmosphere is like nowhere else; a lovely combination of being a stunningly beautiful, historic city yet a cosy, friendly, quaint town at the same time. I cannot wait to return!