A Florentine Love Affair

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I’m absolutely besotted with Florence.  It’s a little crazy actually.

I was there in January and then, actually went there twice this month.  I just find its streets, it restaurants, its views, its people, the light, the colour, the buildings….tantalising, enthralling, breathtaking.

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Having my heart set on getting back there, when my mum and I were very last minuted-ly (is that a word?) tossing up where to go and what to do, and having both been there in White/snowy January, neither of us could resist seeing what would happen when the Autumn light shone its dusty hues over the Arno, around the bends of the buliding, casting colours on the curves and dancing off the Ponte Vecchio bridge.  And so, we arranged our whole trip around driving from France to Florence and back to Pisa. It was the best idea, imagineable.

I will divulge more bits and bobs about the rest of the trip, once I have uncovered the Florentine.  We drove from the Cinque Terre to Firenze, making haste.  I had booked a beautiful apartment slightly further out of the centre of the city, which was a very good idea in retrospection.  It made us walk, into unchartered territory and forced us to explore streets we would have never know were there.  And in those streets, we found some beautiful juice bars, leather shops, cafes & musicians.  All adding their very own colour to Florence’s palette.

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But I’d had this dream, for ages, to watch an Opera in either Florence, Rome or some great European city.  And so, after walking around, grabbing a bite to eat and heading back to the beautiful, homely apartment for a bite to eat, we swiftly booked tickets for the Opera, did some personal admin and then left on foot, thinking we had enough time.  Google Maps thought differently. And so we paced it.  Trying to find a taxi on the way.  Google wanted us to walk all around the park in 15 mins and we only had 16 minutes to spare.  So we saw a gap. Literally, through the park and over tram tracks and right outside the Opera house.  We did this.  And we arrived with 7 minutes to spare.  But my google drive wouldn’t load and I couldn’t show them my tickets.  Seriously?  And so, eventually after turning my phone on and off a few times, the drive finally loaded and with moments to spare, managed to show our tickets and enter the Opera.

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Only to discover it had 3 parts.  Ha ha. We weren’t sure we were up for 3hrs 15 minutes of Opera.  Neither of us said anything to each other.  Luckily the parts got more and more interesting and by the end we were hanging on for the finale.  It was brilliant.  And I felt my Uppa’s smile reaching down from Heaven, delighted that we were in an Italian Opera in Florence.

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And then the next day just rolled into more and more wonderful experiences, from sitting in cafe’s, running along the Arno, taking photos around the streets.  We found two incredible rooftop bars, that I highly recommend, Grand Hotel Cavour (with views looking straight over the Dome of The Santa Maria del Fiore and a delicious wine selection) and the Westin Excelsior (an absolute extravagance- with your first drink costing 21 euro, but includes an endless buffet of canapés).  The Westin is absolutely beautiful and as we walked towards it the sounds of a Grand Piano burst onto the street, with old school elegance dripping out the doors.  A fun opportunity to put on your best dress and grab a cocktail in top end style.

Another indulgence is the delicious chocolatier, found along Via Vecchio – Venchi.  Ohhh, it was only early morning when we stepped in there, but we got to taste some delicious dark, milk, praline chocolates.  All incredibly delicious, creamy, flavourful breakfast alternatives 🙂 Stock up, because somehow they disappear super fast and the chocolates you thought you would take home as gifts for your friends have disappeared before lunch!

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But then, my absolute best, is the SANTA MARIA DEL FIORE.  I love waking up at Sunrise and going to that beautiful building.   Selfishly, aiming to be there way before the crowds of camera holding, selfie taking tourists arrive.  I love to sit and watch the building get lit up by the rising sun, shedding volume and colour onto the minuscule details that the artists laboured over.  I find myself at awe at the facades, so delicate and intricate.  It is an AWE-some building in the true sense of the word.  I struggle to find a person that doesn’t find their breath taken away for a moment as their eyes take it in for the first, second, third time.  It is breathtaking.

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I was lucky enough to climb to the top this time and that was amazing.  We walked all the way to the top of The Clocktower – all 414 steps.  Behind the tall, short, fit, unfit, African, American, Engligh, German people, everyone trying to get higher and higher, seeing the views roll out from the top of the Dome.  And, boy was it worth it.  Sadly, there is a cage running all the way around – I don’t want to think too deeply about the reasons behind that, all would be sad, I reckon -so the view is slightly restricted.  But seeing the streets looking rather organised below, the people, less chaotic, the Duomo, massive in its comparison to other buildings, the Arno running calmly through, all of it is so impressive to the eye. I would definitely recommend going up.

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If I was young enough to follow the adventurer inside me again, I would take a year off and go and study art history at a University in Florence.  I truly love it, I feel excited by it and alive within it.  If you are tessellating about which European city to go to, do yourself a favour, go to this one.

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