Firenze la bella

The place that changed it all for me. When I was here for the first time last Summer, my life was a chaotic mess and I wasn’t sure what I was doing or where I was going. But the moment I stepped on Firenze, walked the streets Leonardo did, I felt I was on the right path. Everything became very clear.

It was here in the magical Firenze where I decided that I was to move to Italy permanently.

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After some considerations I ended up deciding for Rome (Because oh how I loved Rome). But as time goes by and I struggle with the Italian Capital mess, I do look back and wonder what would have been of my life if I would have followed the Fleur de lis signs.

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Few weeks ago I went back to say good bye to Firenze, to Italy, or to wrap up my life here in this wonderful country.

Every time I go back and spend time with my friend who lives there, I realize that Firenze is my real Italian Home. That was the place that changed my destiny, because I changed there last summer.

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I have seen the Galleria dell’Academia and the fabulous David, I have been at Uffizi Gallery and took million pictures of the crowded Duomo piazza. But I have never been to the Palazzo Vecchio before, the actual Medici residence and center of their power. This time I decided to go in.

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The first Sunday of the month museums are free entrance. Unfortunately the Palazzo Vecchio was free only for Firenze’s residents. Something that wasn’t advice until the ticket window. So after you waited in line for 40 minutes.

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The room of 500 – Palazzo Vecchio

I swallow the frustration and bought the normal ticket of 10Euros. Plus the entrance to the “scavi”. Under the Palazzo Vecchio there are Roman ruins of a big stadium. These ruins are open to public and not many people know about it.

Note: The ruins were actually under reconstruction when I visited (May 2017) and almost the whole site was covered, we had to walk over scaffolding. But they still charge you full price and again, there is no advice of the situation.

After the Scavi we finally entered the Palazzo. And it just stunned me.

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I could have spent the whole day here. I could have starred at every detail for hours and don’t get bored. This place is so magnificent that you can’t help but to be amazed by the luxury of the Royal’s lives in those times, and how incredible gifted the artists were.

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The Medici ruled and managed Firenze for many years. This dynasty became renamed for their support to the arts and their banking business here and in most of Tuscany. Cosimo Medici, the most powerful member of the family had constantly showed off his overwhelming power to the world. The Medici even had a pope.

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For the Dan Brown’s fans, as myself, the famous Inferno book and movie were based in Firenze (a part of it) and the movie was shot at Palazzo Vecchio.

Dante Mask is at display and it is very impressive.

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Inside the Palazzo: Do not miss the The Maps’ room, The Blue Room and The Room of 500: Where the strength of Cosimo Medici and his family is on display to impress.

After the visit to the Medici Chapel, which is few blocks away from the Palazzo Vecchio, we headed to the best place for panino in Firenze: i’Tosto

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(The second to the very famous All’Antico Vinaio) “Tosto – Giant Toast” got to my heart the first time I was in Firenze. I had to stop a lady who was eating one of these and ask her where did she get it from.

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The world famous Florentine Panino place – All’Antico Vinaio

The best way to say (not goodbye) but: See you soon City of my heart.

For the first time visitors here are some must-see of Firenze

The Duomo

You have to pay to enter the Duomo and the Baptistry – right across the Duomo- but it promises incredible views of Firenze from the top of the tower.

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Galleria dell’Academia and Uffizi

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Arrive early to both galleries. Lines at Galleria dell’Academia are long to see the most beautiful man in history: The David of Michelangelo. Perfection in marble.

At Uffizi you will find the most beautiful display of exquisite masterpieces of the biggest artists of history.

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The birth of Venus – Botticelli – Galleria Uffizi

 

Ponte Vecchio

Full of gold stores and tourist, this ancient bridge holds on through time, like the whole city of Firenze, to its medieval past. It is a trip to Leonardo’s day.

The Vasari corridor runs through it, you can see on the picture below the little windows on the top floor of the bridge coming from Uffizi Gallery. This is a path that starts at Palazzo Vecchio, the Medici used it to move around the city without mixing with the crowds. And who knows what other secrets it hides?.

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The Arno

Stroll by the famous River that cuts through Firenze for fantastic views of the city, specially during the sunset. In Summer the river ridge turns into a big spot for social life, cafes and outdoor events.

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Santa Maria Novella

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Cafe La Murate (Piazza delle Murate, 50122 Firenze)

Cafe delle Oblate (Via dell’ Oriuolo, 26, 50122 Firenze)

I recommend both, La Murate is also a Restaurant and offers Aperitivo every night. Both are located amazingly. The first one has its own closed piazza and Oblate will give you views as this one:

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Views of the Duomo from Cafe delle Oblate

Santa Croce Church and Piazza

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Santo Spirito Church and Piazza

On Sundays the piazza hosts an open Market, at night its takes another kind of vibe. Full of cool bars and restaurants. One of my favorite places to hang out.

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A well kept secret: Piazza della Passera. A few steps from the entrance to Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens. If you find it you will be rewarded with some of the Best Gelato in Firenze: Gelateria della Passera. They offer special and homemade flavors which change constantly. Do not miss it! 

Mercatos

There are several farmer markets around Firenze. The Mercato Centrale has a hip display of cool food stands on the second floor, on the ground floor you will find fresh and delicious produce. But is more touristy.

My favorite is the local market of Sant’Ambrogio.  

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Piazzale Michelangelo AND San Miniato al Monte Church

A bus from the main train station “Santa Maria Novella” will bring you directly to this incredible place, where views of the whole city will leave you amazed. You can also walk here from the Giardino delle rose.

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Giardino delle rose

Next to Piazzale Michelangelo -described above- this gorgeous area for relaxation will steal your heart. Wonderful views of the city and even more amazing smells of roses. Do not miss it!

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San Nicolò neighborhood – MAGICAL PLACE

This was my neighborhood, I was very lucky. I used to run through its desert steep alleys through the villas with breathtaking views of Tuscany. Take an afternoon to explore it and find its hidden gems away from the tourist crowds.

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