I’m basically crawling up Giotto’s campanile. Just when I am about to die, I come to a little slit in the wall. I stand there for a while enjoying the cool drizzle of rain and looking down at the glorious dull gold-brown and yellow buildings, inhaling the scent of tobacco, city, and sweet, sweet history. Actually, when I first got to Florence (amid screams from my friends “I CAN SEE THE DDOOMMME”), I felt like I should be dressed up in some old Renaissance costume. I felt like walking those cobbled streets I could run into Michelangelo or a Medici and am thrown off the Palazzo Vecchio for looking at them too long. Florence is the epitome of Italy, all its character, its life and history seem to have been melted down and molded into the city that is Florence.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
Our hotel was in the perfect spot. Hotel Fiorino was by the gorgeous Ponte Vecchio, and a stone’s throw away from the Uffizi Gallery. Speaking of which, prepare yourself for that which is the Uffizi. Put on some comfortable walking shoes and get a map, or you shall not survive! I, being a true lover of art history was crying with joy by the end of it, but also because my feet really hurt! It’s packed with beautiful art and architecture, its café is expensive, but it has a beautiful view so it’s sort of a prize if you make it that far. One museum I thought was very anti-climatic was the Accademia. They lure you in with David, and then there’s not much else to see, and I prefer Bernini’s David anyway.
As you probably know, Florence is situated in Tuscany. And the great thing about that is just hop on the train (buy a ticket first) and off you go to Assisi, Siena, or Pisa. Assisi is frozen in time; it still maintains its medieval roots. Assisi also has these cute little shops, not to mention St. Francis’s Basilica. Siena is the ultimate Tuscan town. It’s a university town so you see a lot of kids, but go to their Duomo and museum and climb up their tower; it offers the BEST views of Tuscany. In regards to Pisa, just get a ticket for the tower, the baptistery and cathedral are boring, to say the least, and undecorated.
While in Florence the best shopping is the Santa Maria Novella perfumery and the San Lorenzo market. Santa Maria Novella is beautiful in itself, and you will see why you need a perfumery when you walk through the entrance. The perfumery smells like a mixture of sugar and spice and everything nice. The San Lorenzo market, and don’t be afraid to haggle, really gives any visitor a taste of Italian shopping; it has anything you could ever possibly want!
I’m only a kid, barely out of diapers, but traveling to Italy with a group of my friends changed my life for the better. So cliché, I know but it really is hard to explain. There’s this book, ‘Travel as a Political Act’ by travel guru Rick Steves. He explains that travel isn’t always fun and games, but it’s a opportunity for people to exchange cultures. God knows I would never have tried a chocolate and olive gelato if I wasn’t in Italy! But I did, and I’ve never tasted anything better. So climb up those steps, eat that gelato, and go to Florence, because I assure you, you will never experience anything better.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.