30 minutes. That’s all it took for Florence to become my favorite Italian city. Everything about the city just made me so HAPPY. Everything just felt right. It was love at first sight.
We arrived in Florence in the early evening and took a stroll around the area. The first building we entered was the supermarket1, where we found cheap fruit and water and self-checkout technology.
The next building we entered was Il Panda, a cheap and fast Chinese take-out place with authentic Chinese food. These two things alone already made Florence extremely pleasant. If you know what we like, it doesn’t take too much to please me and Victor.
After stuffing ourselves full of the world’s best cuisine, we sauntered over to the river. On the way there, we passed by streets that felt vibrant but were not at all crowded. Unlike the rugged cobblestone streets in most of Naples and Rome, the streets in Florence were paved. The people we walked by were rarely tourists – instead, the local population had a large proportion of English speakers, presumably also study-abroad students, as well as Asian people2. The open air plazas were lively but not congested, and nobody was trying to sell us any selfie-sticks. All in all, the city felt safe, fun, clean, and beautiful.
There wasn’t any one spectacular thing about the places or people we passed by on our walk, but they all combined to give off good vibes. Simply walking around just felt so energizing and joyful. I can’t really explain it because love is hard to explain.
Finally, we came upon Ponte Vecchio, an iconic bridge to take photos at. It’s not hard to see why it’s iconic.
We then continued walking along the river. As we were walking, we heard musical sounds streaming out of a well-lit building. We peeked inside through a window and saw a group of people playing percussion instruments, chanting, and performing a combination of martial arts and dancing. A French mother and daughter joined us in the audience, and I conversed briefly with them in (bad) French. After a few minutes, Victor and I turned around to go. Just as we were about to leave the area, the French mother ran up to us and motioned toward the inviting open door. She was going in to watch from a better view, she told me in French, and was asking us to join. We didn’t have any agenda, so we joined her and her daughter inside the building. Although we never joined the dance circle, we were able to appreciate 15 minutes of Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art. The fact that the door to the building was just open made the city feel even more welcoming.
Finally, we ended the night at the Piazzale Michelangelo, a hilltop plaza with a gorgeous panoramic view of the city.
I honestly couldn’t think of anything else that would have made the city more perfect until I heard Kpop music playing nearby as we descended from the Piazzale Michelangelo. I was completely sold. Florence is my favorite Italian city, and it’s not even close.
Day 7 was the day I fell madly in love with Florence. Day 8 was more of a formality, the day I actually got to know Florence and all her personal traits, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
The first and most notable trait of Florence is that she is artsy. She dabbles in sculpture, paintings, architecture, and music.
We started off the day at the Accademia Gallery, where we saw Michelangelo’s famous David sculpture and an exhibit about the first piano among other artsy things.
Secondly, Florence comes from a religious family, so she is also quite devout herself.
After touring the art museum, we went to the Duomo, a Church with a large dome at the center of the city. We went up the Campanile next to the dome and had yet another beautiful panoramic view of Florence and its surrounding hills.
After more Asian food for lunch, we toured the Uffizi Gallery, which houses some of Botticelli’s3 most famous works as well as some of Da Vinci’s art.
Third, Florence loves nature.
We proceeded to the Boboli Gardens, the Medici’s equivalent of King Louis’s Versailles. The gardens were less grand than those of Versailles, but they were visually pleasing in their own right.
Fourth, Florence is super friendly. Everyone loves spending time with her.
For dinner, Victor and I met up with David, Garrett, and David’s friend Hassan. We shared a juicy T-bone steak and the waiter even gave us complimentary Limoncello on the house.
On top of all of these wonderful qualities, let me just remind you of why Florence caught my eye at first. She’s beautiful!
Of course, love isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. At night the water in our hotel stopped working, and we learned that the water occasionally stops working in all of Florence for a few hours. Still, I was willing to overlook this small flaw because of all of her strengths.
Florence, The City
We stayed in a normal hotel/motel in Florence. There isn’t too much to say about it, as it was just an average motel room.
Florence is a fairly small city, so it does not have its own metro system. It does have a decent number of bus lines serving the area. The buses don’t always run on time and do get fairly crowded, so this is one thing that could be improved about Florence.
As I discussed before, Florence has a lot of Asian food. In total, we ate Asian food four times in the city of Florence, and most of it was cheap and delicious.
We also ate at a popular sandwich shop called Antico. The shop sold cheap build-your-own-masterpiece sandwiches that you could fill with anything you wanted.
Finally, Florence is actually known for its steak, and our steak meal certainly didn’t disappoint!
Florence is different from most other cities I had visited because it is significantly smaller. The city didn’t feel too touristy, and it still felt like a comfortable place to live. I think it would be the perfect place for an aspiring artist to thrive in. Realistically, I probably wouldn’t have that much to do in Florence after a while, but the two days I spent exploring the city were some of the most carefree and joyful days on the trip.
Part of the reason why I liked Florence so much is that tourism has actually been down in the area over the last few years. This makes the experience a lot more enjoyable for the smaller set of tourists, because other tourists are honestly the last people you want to see around you. As much as I’d like Florence to stay undersaturated with tourists forever, I’d encourage you to visit the city for some artsy and happy vibes.
There wasn’t one mind-blowing landmark or one incredible activity in Florence. But every small thing about the city just clicked for me. I’ve never been happier with a European city.
It’s a love story / Baby just say yes. Florence, will you marry me?
If not, I’ll settle for you being my honeymoon location.
(1) Victor and I affectionately called all grocery stores and supermarkets “supermarché”, the French translation of the word.
(2) Which also implies the presence of Asian food
(3) It has become a lot harder for me to play the game Botticelli with friends