Two words come to mind when I think about Florence: art and architecture. If you’re a fan of either, you’ll love this city.
We didn’t waste any time when we arrived in Florence. Our first stop upon arrival was the Academia Gallery, home of the world-renowned statue of David by Michelangelo.
I was pretty surprised at how small the museum was. Somehow I envisioned it to be as big is the Louvre in Paris (maybe I was drawing parallels between the Mona Lisa and statue of David, two famous pieces of art).
In any case, I felt like the Academia was practically a shrine to David.
The first gallery showcases some beautiful Renaissance paintings by Florentine artists. But as you walk into the next gallery, a collection of Michelangelo’s sculptures — some even unfinished — line both sides of the hall and point you to the massive statue of David.
As I listened to our local expert describe all the different sculptures in great detail, I couldn’t help but divert my attention to David.
I mean, there he was in all his glory. Tall, lean and muscular. Oh yeah, and naked — just casually standing there with the spotlight directly on him while he gazed off into the distance, beckoning visitors with his mysterious appeal.
As we approached the massive statue, I analyzed each and every detail — the veins on his hands to the lines that marked each rib bone — every inch of this marble masterpiece represented a realistic yet romanticized portrayal of a man.
Michelangelo was a genius. Sheer genius.
Olive oil farm
After perusing the gallery for a little while longer, we boarded the bus to make our way to Fattoria di Maiano — an olive oil farm located in the Fiesole region of Tuscany — where we got a tour of the factory and a demonstration of how olive oil is made.
Learning the ins and outs of the process gave me a newfound appreciation for olive oil. From growing and harvesting to pressing to bottling, there’s a great deal of patience and impeccable timing that goes into the art of olive oil production, somewhat akin to winemaking.
We got to eat dinner at the farm’s restaurant, where we had a sampling of its olive oil. Needless to say, I’ve never had so much olive oil in my life! Even though the main course was pasta, we certainly got more than our fair share of bread and olive oil! My palate will never be the same.
A walking tour of Florence
We started our second day in Florence wandering the main part of the city where all the beautiful landmarks are located, including the Piazza del Duomo, Cupola del Brunelleschi, Ponte Vecchio bridge and yes, a statue of David replica.
This area of Florence is a showcase of artwork in itself: All the colossal cathedrals and buildings — some decorated with intricate marble exteriors — tell a vivid story of Florence’s rich Renaissance history. The city is known as the cradle of the Renaissance, after all.
But do you know what else the city is known for? Genuine Italian leather!
Our next stop was Peruzzi, a store that sells a wide assortment of leather products like handbags, clothing and an endless amount of other accessories.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, whenever I travel, I seldom buy souvenirs for myself as I generally prefer spending money on experiences rather than things. But how could I possibly leave a city known for leather without buying something made out of leather?
I walked out of Peruzzi not only with a smile on my face but with a brand new leather wallet, eye glasses cases, a pen holder and a coin purse (the last few items were souvenirs for friends, of course).
Months later, I still smile whenever I take out my wallet because it takes me back to this magical city, a special place I’ll always hold near and dear to my heart.