Our first full day in Florence, and we started it off with a walking tour of the historic city, opting for the free “Medici” walking tour offered by a more local company (no Sandeman’s here, unfortunately). Still, our guide Daniel knew his stuff and the tour was a nice overview with a lot of history and fun facts.
Since the tour centered on the House of Medici, it’s only appropriate that I quickly introduce them. Just who was this family? Only one of the most powerful families of medieval/Renaissance Italy, a family that stayed influential for over 300 years. They started the Medici Bank, managed to produce four popes, two regent queens of France, and become hereditary dukes of Florence, despite being just “ordinary” citizens and not royalty.
They were heavy sponsors of Renaissance art and culture, and they were constantly vying for power against several rival families, experiencing many assassination attempts and calling some hits of their own. The Mafia would look lame compared to these guys.
Back to our tour. We saw the burial place of the Medici family through the years – a huge building with a nice dome. After walking through San Lorenzo Market, one of the busiest streets of Florence filled with leather jacket and purse vendors, we stopped by Santa Maria del Carmine, a church with an unfinished façade.
But the highlight of the tour was most definitely the breathtaking Il Duomo di Firenze, a giant basilica covered in multi-colored green, white, and red marble. It looked unreal, almost like a cardboard cutout at some theme park. But getting up close, it was very apparent the amount of detailed craftsmanship, and the cathedral was absolutely magnificent, with a huge dome that was an engineering marvel of its time and a campanile bell tower rising out of the building.
We also stopped by Piazza della Signoria right outside our bed & breakfast and crossed the Arno River to see a Medici family palace. After the tour, we took a quick gelato break (and nice nap) before heading out again to see the David statue at Accademia Gallery.
The statue itself was larger-than-life, much bigger and more detailed than any picture would suggest (17 feet, to be exact). In fact, David provokes the exact opposite response compared to the Mona Lisa. It’s hard imagining how Michelangelo could have carved this masterpiece from a single giant block of marble, but he is a legend and artistic genius for a reason!
Stay tuned and read about my other adventures in London, Paris, Berlin!
Steps taken: 17,057 | Miles walked: 5.65
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