This week Cecil Lee, travel photographer extraordinaire, is back to tell us about Florence, another spot in Italy he fell in love with during his travels earlier this year. And since I just visited there for the first time this past spring, I know what it’s like to fall in love with the beauty of Florence.
Apart from falling in love with Venice during my trip to Italy, I also found myself falling for the art, historical and cultural capital of Italy – Florence. A UNESCO’s World Heritage Site, Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region in the middle of Italy. I fell in love with Florence because she is so elegant and different from the rest of Italian cities I visited. The city lies on the River Arno, which separates Florence into new and historic sections. Florence is known as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance with its strongest influence in Italian art and architecture. Two of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, lived and worked in this beautiful city.
Florence is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. When we first arrived at its main rail station Santa Maria Novella, abbreviated as SMN, and walked out from the station, we were surprised to find ourselves already in the heart of historic Florence. We started to explore the city attractions one by one since they were all within walking distance. The most dominant icon of Florence would definitely be the Duomo, or Cathedral, the highest building in Florence. Climbing up 460 steps of spiral staircase to the tower top offers the best view of Florence. Next would be the Accademia Gallery. I had to queue for 45 minute to get in, but it was worth it to see the original David, the greatest sculpture done by my favorite sculptor Michelangelo.
Sitting at one of the many open air cafés at Piazza Della Signoria, I could actually see some of those famous sculptures as well as people watching. A replica statue of David could be found here. For my wife who loves leather bags and wallets, the San Lorenzo open market was a “must-go” spot. We spent hours in there to buy some of those high quality local leather products such as shoes, bags, wallet that are made in Firenze.
In the evening, we walked along the River Arno, the main river of Florence and Tuscany. We came to the Ponte Vecchio bridge, the oldest and most famous bridge that crosses over the River Arno. There are shops selling jewelry, art and souvenirs. In the evening under the setting sun, it just looked marvelous in yellow color.
When the night fell, we took a bus up to the hill top at Piazzale Michelangelo. It is the best viewpoint to Florence city skyline. I set up my DSLR onto a tripod and shot endlessly!
Florence is also a great location for visiting other important cities of Tuscany, such as Sienna and the wine producing area Chianti to try the Chianti Classico wine. Florence offers much more than that, too. The local foods are marvelous! I couldn’t help but to try the local gelato, as well as the famous Florence steak with a glass of Italian Chianti Classico wine as well as the traditional bread with Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Florence offers so much beauty to discover!
Cecil Lee is an avid traveler who is also a passionate travel blogger and travel photographer living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He writes about travel for MNUI travel insurance and on his own travel photo blog, Travel Feeder.