My favourite place on the planet is Florence which I have been lucky enough to visit on two occasions. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what I love about it but I’ll try to explain why it means so much to me.
Arriving in Florence isn’t as straight forward as arriving in many major cities. There is an airport there but most flights arrive in Pisa, 43 miles away. The easiest way to make the trip is by train. Pisa airport is typical of modern airports – large, glass and metal, impersonal. On exiting through huge sliding glass doors you find yourself on the platform of the train station which is a dead-end and looks from a previous time. There is a machine to dispense tickets and a few benches to perch on while waiting.
The train journey takes about an hour and the train rumbles sedately through a series of villages and towns on the way to Florence. Cascina, Pontedera, Empoli. At each station a variety of people get on and off – students from the universities of Pisa and Florence, business people returning home, groups of shoppers laden with bags from markets and designer boutiques and, of course travellers like us heading to Florence. As we pull in to each station I get a small thrill knowing that we are getting closer to our destination and that magical moment when I see the sign saying Firenze on the platform.
Santa Maria Novella station is a contrast to Pisa station. It is a large bustling station with multiple platforms, booming announcements in rapid Italian and crowds of people rushing to their destinations. On exiting you are in the wonderful city of Florence – well, perhaps not the most wonderful part but Florence nonetheless.
I don’t know the area of Santa Maria Novella well, we tend to rush through it on our way to central Florence butt here is a rather magnificent black and white façaded church there which I will have to visit one day, especially as it has frescos by one of my favourite Renaissance artists, Filippino Lippi.
We have been lucky enough to stay close to the Duomo on both our visits. This masterpiece of Renaissance architecture dominates the city; there are few places in Florence where you can’t get a glimpse of Brunelleschi’s dome. You can climb the dome and get a fantastic view across Florence – I admit that I haven’t done this but my husband has and the photographs are stunning. I prefer to wander round the Duomo drinking in the wonderful works of art by Uccello, Donatello, Della Robbia, and Zuccaro.
Florence is a wonderful place for art lovers. It’s practically impossible to turn a corner without bumping into a beautiful vista, a gorgeous sculpture or some stunning architecture. I particularly love the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine. It has the most stunning frescos by Masaccio and Lippi depicting Biblical scenes. Now religious imagery isn’t for everyone and there is a lot of it in Florence but these frescos are truly wonderful. The depiction of pain and loss on the faces of Adam and Eve on being expelled from the Garden of Eden is breathtaking. The colours on these frescos, which are over 600 years old, are bright and vibrant and the faces are beautifully painted, obviously using contemporaries of the artists as models. I often wonder how the model felt about being painted as St Peter or Jesus.
There are too many sights in Florence for me to write about here. It is truly a stunning city which I plan to visit many more times in the future and I still won’t scratch its surface. Now, where did I put the guide book to plan my next trip?
Thank you Johanne for telling us about Florence. Johanne has another blog here. Perhaps you’d like to follow one of her blogs.
I hope you enjoyed reading about Florence as much as I did. Have you been to Florence?
The prompt from 365 Days of Writing Prompts was:-
What’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?
Posts by others for this prompt.