Considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Florence always manages to leave an impression.
By Marianne de Nazareth
Firenze, or as we know it as Florence, was the city where Michaelangelo the famous Italian artist, sculptor was born. For me Firenze was where ‘David’ the beautiful statue sculpted by Michaelanglo and I wanted to see it again after 20 years. So from Rome we jumped into the last Trenitalia high speed train we would take on this five day ‘pseudo back packing’ trip we enjoyed, which took us into the Firenze Santa Maria Novella Station. I say pseudo because we carried only a backpack as luggage for the trip. That was as far as we would go. The real backpackers sleeping on the station on mats and washing up in rest rooms were the real McCoy.
On reaching Florence, you can get maps and information on all UNESCO heritage spots across the city from the information desk. We devoted an entire day to walking about in Florence, taking in the beauty of the city. Through the little lanes and by lanes of Florence, we looked for ‘my David’. At an intersection we asked the way forward and an obliging resident walked us towards the lane that would take us to the Piazza della Signoria. Bistros and cafes abound here with brightly flowering geraniums. Then suddenly, like they always do in Europe – the piazza opened out before us and then – there was my statue of David among the milling tourists.
A word of caution – gypsies seem to have free reign across Italy and you can get robbed if you are not careful enough. For a minute my guard slipped as I took out my camera from my bag to capture ‘my David’. I felt and then saw a tiny gypsy child brush past my backpack and prickles of alarm caused me to check my bag, which thankfully was untouched.
While this was the copy of Michelanglo’s David, the actual sculpture is found in the Galleria dell’ Accademia that is the home of the 17-ft tall statue built to perfection in pure white marble. In the same piazza stands the Neptune Fountain, an intricate piece of art. To the right is the Palazzo Vecchio, which is a stunningly beautiful building with a courtyard, enclosed with intricately carved inner pillars. This is also the historic centre of Florence.
Dating back to the 13th century, Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore or the Duomo (cathedral) of Florence with its Gothic architecture is a must see in Florence. The frontage is decorated with marble panels in green and pink. The cupola or dome features in all the watercolours and postcards from Florence.
On the way back to the station we passed shops selling leather bags in all colours imaginable. Florence is famous for genuine leather products but I had to look away, cause backpacking does not allow one the luxury of shopping. But men’s wallets and belts were light enough to go into the bag so I splurged there. The vendors might even give you a discount, if you know how to bargain well.