Friday, June 21, 2019

Under The Tuscan Sun


After spending many semesters delving into the world of the Italian Renaissance, I was extremely excited to visit Florence, and it lived up to all my expectations.

Florence is smaller than Rome, making it extremely walkable, and if you are an art lover like I am you will find plenty of points of interest to fill your days. My mom and I spent three days here and I wish I had more time to soak up all the culture this city had to offer.

Here are the highlights of our time in Florence:

Spots To See

The Uffizi Gallery


 

As an art history major in college, the Uffizi was at the top of my list for this trip. The large museum, once the offices of Florence's ruling family the Medicis, features some of the most important art of the Renaissance, from Verrocchio to Caravaggio and beyond. 

You could spend hours in this maze-like museum, as there are hundreds of Greek and Roman sculptures (not to mention a ton of portraits) in the main hallway, and that does not even begin to cover the many famed artworks that are on display in each room.

The museum is arranged in chronological order, so you can easily see the artistic progress from the Middle Ages all the way to the Renaissance and Baroque eras. It felt like I was walking through my entire Renaissance Art History class, the text book come alive before me! 

Galleria dell'Academia


This museum is much smaller, but it is home to perhaps the most famous sculpture of all time: Michelangelo's David. I was incredibly surprised by how in awe I was, witnessing this immense sculpture in person. The David is completely ubiquitous in our culture, but it must be seen in person to work its full magic.

Standing quite tall at 17 feet, The David is monumental in every sense of the word. It is no secret that Michelangelo was a master at capturing the human form in marble, but this art work is a true masterpiece, and visiting the Galleria is worth it for this reason alone.

P.S. Make sure you reserve a time to visit in advance! They do a great job of limiting the number of visitors into the museum at a time, so that means if you try to enter standby, you could be waiting a long time! I'd recommend reserving all your museum tickets ahead of time, actually.

Pitti Palace

 

My mom and I had a few hours to kill in the morning before seeing The David, so we decided on a whim to visit the Pitti Palace, and I am SO happy that we did! 

Just a quick walk across the river, the Pitti Palace is a magnificent estate that served as the new home of the Medici family (after they outgrew the Palazzo Vecchio). With vast gardens that inspired Louis XIV's own at Versailles, this building gives you an immediate understanding of how wealthy and powerful the Medici were at the height of their power.

Inside the palace are dozens of ornately-decorated rooms that are covered with priceless artworks, sculptures, and furniture. You will get a great sense of what it must have been like to be a Florentine noble! 

The Duomo

 

As one of the largest cathedrals in Italy, the Duomo—aka Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore—is the bustling center of Florence. With an intricate marble fa├žade and large tiled dome, it is a testament to Renaissance architecture and engineering, so you should definitely stop by to admire it!

However, I will say that the interior of the cathedral is a total letdown, especially after the exquisite excessiveness of St. Peter's. I assume that the architects of the cathedral spent all their efforts on the exterior of the building, and as a result, the inside is disappointedly plain. Save your time waiting in line to enter the cathedral and grab a cappuccino at one of the nearby restaurants around the piazza instead. 

Day Trip To Siena and San Gimignano 


 

On our last day in Florence, we took a small guided tour (about 20 people) to the hillside towns of Siena and San Gimignano, with a pitstop at a Tuscan winery for lunch!

Tuscany is beyond beautiful, so if you have a day to spend driving through the countryside and visiting a medieval town or two, I highly recommend it! Siena was especially charming and has a fun city-wide competition each year that I loved learning about (and you can learn more here). San Gimignano was much smaller by comparison but just as quaint, and it featured the best gelato shop ever.

By the end of our day adventuring through the Tuscan countryside, my mom was already planning to open a bed and breakfast at an old villa, so be warned that this gorgeous landscape will win you over!

Where To Eat


Tuscany is known for several regional treats like wild boar and Chianti wine. Do yourself a favor and try out some of these delicacies while you have the chance. It's not every day you see boar on the menu, after all! Here are the must-try items while in Florence and Tuscany:


  • Chianti Wine: the signature red wine of the region, this wine has very specific standards for production, including that you can only water the grapes with rain; no sprinklers or artificial irrigation! If you are a red wine fan, grab a nice glass of chianti (no fava beans necessary) and enjoy
  • Wild Boar: Wild boar are like deer in Tuscany—they are everywhere. That being said, they have become an incredibly popular meal in the region. When I tried my plate of wild boar, I almost wondered if I had been served someone else's dinner, because it doesn't taste like pork at all! I'd say it's very similar to short rib or boeuf bourguignon
  • Gnudi: this came at the recommendation of our bartender at the hotel; it's essentially a gnocchi (potato pasta) that is stuffed with ricotta cheese. So yeah, it is heavenly
  • Florentine steak: steak in Florence is another go-to, so if you are a fan of red meat (I know I am!) be sure to treat yourself to a delicious steak! We ended up getting pasta when dining at Torcicoda near Santa Croce, but they had a fantastic selection of steak if you are looking for a specific spot!

Where To Stay

 

In Florence we stayed at another boutique hotel called Relais Santa Croce, but while the one in Rome was new and modern, this one was quite old—in fact, it was originally a palace in the 18th century! With just over 20 rooms, the service here was incredibly attentive, and they had a delicious breakfast...and cocktails!

It was also right by one of the other big churches in town, Santa Croce, which made for another fun photo moment even in the rain!

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Stay tuned for the Milan recap, coming soon! Check out my Rome recap if you missed that HERE


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1 comment:

  1. This looks so amazing!

    Briana
    https://beyoutifulbrunette.com/

    ReplyDelete

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