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Stepping Foot on the 7 Continents of the World A Step at a Time

Welcome to My Favorite City in the World, Florence.

ITALY | Sunday, 15 April 2007 | Views [514]

Goodbye Rome as I checked out of my hotel, took a cab to Termini and rode the train to Florence. Florence was the first stop to this train ride that actually would go to Milan. Like all my train rides in Italy, this was also a non event, except that finding a convenient way to stow and retrieve my luggage proved to be stressful. I finally reached Florence after an hour and a half of travel. I was expecting a sleepy little town like Pisa. But no, Florence was huffing and puffing with people. It was like people were all crammed in this little space of confusing alleyways while compact cars and cabs busily inched their way around this madness. But amidst all these was the most beautiful city I have ever seen. Yes, even better than what little of Paris that I have seen so far in this trip. Florence was just like a town inserted inside a bottle never to evolve because doing so might mean losing the essence of its beauty, which is the richness of Renaissance art everywhere. Admittedly, my jaw has dropped in awe to everything that I have seen so far. But none has moved me the way Florence did. It was love at first sight. Seeing Florence was literally like staring at a work of art. Yes, it was that moving. Looking for my hotel took longer than I expected. I had to ask a fellow Filipino who apparently wasn't that familiar yet with the place and an Italian police who pointed me in the right direction. My hotel was the perfect place to stay in this city. Quaint, charming, quiet inside and there was an air of old world romance about it. Outside my hotel was just pure chaos as tourists and locals mixed as each went about their way around. I had to keep the momentum going so I decided to give this city a one lap of walk. First up was the famous Duomo. It actually wasn't hard to find. Zipping through stall after stall of leather goods, which by the way smelled so good, somehow one would end up landing at the place where the Duomo stands. The Duomo's facade was picture perfect. Different colors of marble covered the facade. One can just imagine the amount of marble of different colors that were hauled and used to build this humongous cathedral. But the end result was pretty perfection. For all its ornateness, the Duomo's inside was a testament to pure minimalism. You could count the number of frescoes or the statues of saints inside. It was as if the inside's bareness was meant not to distract one from his conversation with God. Personally, I just found it anticlimactic. I have had enough of the Duomo and it was time for me to get going. Did I mention that I didn't have a map with me? I just kept on walking and walking, unconsciously deciding to just get lost in this beautiful maze of a city. I ended up in a piazza where the city hall was. There were statues everywhere. The copy of David was there outside the city hall. Amazing I told myself. I lost track of what statue I was looking at because it was just statue overload. Right beside the city hall is the famed Uffizi Museum, which was definitely part of my agenda here in Florence. Walk past it and one would end up at the Ponte Vecchio where jewelry shops lined up its sides. Amidst all the Rolexes and the gold in the shops was a long history of why these jewelry shops ended up sprouting on a bridge. They apparently replaced butcher shops because the Medici family felt that jewelry shops looked much better than butcher shops. And smelled much better too, I suppose. So, if you happen to be thinking of impulse buying a gold necklace while in Florence, just go to the bridge. I crossed the bridge to find gelaterias one after another. Past that was the Boboli gardens. I decided to turn back and head towards the city proper once again because my feet were killing me. The main street after Ponte Vecchio was retail heaven. Here were all the major designer brands inside medieval buildings. A nice contrast between art and consumerism which made Florence all the more appealing to me. I reached my hotel when the sun was setting. I ended my day with a dinner in one of the trattorias near my hotel. Trattorias in Florene somehow don't feel like tourist trap restaurants like some do in Rome. They still feel authentic and intimate. And the food was just glorious. And as I lay in bed that first night in Florence, I couldn't help but smile. It was a smile of someone really in love.

Tags: culture, david, duomo, florence, italy, ponte vecchio, rome, sightseeing, train, trattoria

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