More love for Florence: Duomo, Ponte Vecchio & Piazza Vecchio

In my last post I told you about our first meeting with Florence. How I already fell in love with the city, its architecture and its food. The thing is, I hadn’t even seen the best parts of the city yet, which I want to talk to you about today: The Duomo, Piazza Vecchio and our first David.

After petting Il porcelinno and thorougly cleaning my hands afterwards (because everybody is touching it and corona is still lurking in the shadows), we walked further and came across some lovely alleyways and the Ponte Vecchio. I had read about this bridge in a couple of books I read about the city. The buildings used to house butchers in the 15th century. The fact that the houses lay over the waters, was useful to them, for they could drop their meatwaste into the river. Soon, however, the bridge and the waters started to smell, as you can imagine. In the 16th century, the butchers had to make room for the goldsmiths who took over the bridge. The bridge actually reminds me a bit of the golden lane in Prague, where their goldsmiths lived in the 17th century. Anyway, nowadays, there are still lots of jewelers to be found in the buildings on top of the bridge.

We took a left towards the Uffizi gallery, which is one of the most prominent art galleries in the world. We wanted to visit, but we hadn’t reserved a ticket yet, so we would have to wait in the blazing sun for at least an hour. We decided to reserve a ticket for another day and explore the city some more instead. So here’s another tip, the same as with Rome: buy your tickets beforehand.

So instead of visiting Uffizi, we came onto the Piazza della Signoria, also known as Piazza Vecchio which was absolutely stunning as well. There were fountains, statues and restaurants. We saw our first David here, which is of course a replica of the one that Michelangelo made, but truth be told, I would probably not be able to tell the difference.

At the piazza you’ll find the Palazzo Vecchio, which houses the city hall of Florence. We didn’t go inside, but we did take a turn to go into the Loggia dei Lanzi, which is an open air statue gallery that you can visit for free. The gallery is from the 14th century and home to some supposedly famous artworks, like Benvenuto Cellini’s Perseus with the Head of Medusa. It’s no Uffizi, of course, there were only a couple of statues here, but it’s still worth a visit.

After admiring the artwork at the piazza for a bit, we decided on one last stop before having a little siësta, namely: The Duomo, which is the absolute highlight of Florence.

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Duomo of Florence, is an absolute masterpiece that highlights the skyline of Florence. They started building it in 1296 based on a gothic design of Arnolfo di Cambio but it was only finished in 1436. The dome was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi.

It’s actually really difficult to get the entire building into one photograph, because it really is gigantic (see the people in the picture above for scale). But even if you would get the building inside a frame, the photo would not do it justice. The entire building has so much detail and is so beautifully finished that you can stare at it for hours, with your eyes lingering on new details every second. It’s by far the most beautifully designed building I have ever seen, unlike any others, with it’s pink an green façade and gorgeous statues. It is absolutely marvelous and truly one of a kind.

We took another route back to our hotel and came across yet another gorgeous building, the Santa Maria Novella. It was the first great basilica in the city, built in 1420. It’s certainly not as big and detailed as the Duomo, but it really is beautiful and worth a visit. The lovely flowers and grounds at the square make it a great place to stop and have some icecream. At the left corner of the street you’ll find the best melon gelato in town.

As for a little sidenote, in Rome we went looking for a turtle fountain and as it turns out, there are turtles in lots of artwork in Florence as well. We came across this one by accident, before we started looking for them. This is the Obelisco in front of the church.

The church was actually really close to our hotel so we went in for siësta, and had a little swim before heading out towards the city again for dinner.

We had dinner at Ristorante Lorenzo de Medici which had, according to their advertisement, the best gluten-free pizza’s ever (or at least in Florence). We didn’t have pizza, we did have gluten and it was not the best ever, but it was okay enough. The food tasted better than it looked (luckily, for the gnocchi looked like they could crawl away any second). I had homemade ravioli with rocket and parmesan cheese (and extra parmesan cheese, so nothing to complain here), boyfriend had four cheese gnocchi and we had some crème caramel and cheesecake for dessert.

The dinner was okay enough, nothing too special. We decided to go for another walk so we headed towards the Duomo once more. There were street musicians everywhere and the city was bustling. We danced in the moonlight, right next to the Duomo. It was the best end of the best day ♥

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