This post is part of the ‘Go with Oh’ series. I choose to use their writing prompts to kick off this blog because their goal is so in line with my own constant travel mission: to experience local life at a grass-roots level. As I sift through past experiences in some of Europe’s greatest cities to put together my own European bucket list, I’m uncovering much about I’ve changed as a traveller and a person over the years.
For me, Florence is the hardest city in this series. I’ve lived in Florence, studied it, written about, and visited at different ages and points in my life.
I’ve seen the Uffizi, the Ponte Vecchio, the sunset on the river, and the David (all three of them).
Despite all that, there are still some quintessential Florence sights and obscure but amazing activities that have eluded me in my visits. Here are five things I would love to do:
1. The Pietra Dura Museum
This is definitely note on every visitor’s highlight real, but it should be. The art of pietra dura involves essentially fitting together pieces of precious stones into a mosaic so vivid that it looks more like a painting that stonework. Typically used on elaborate marble tables in royal estates, I’ve seen some pieces in other museums in the city, but this collection has eluded me.
2. Taste Every Flavor at Vivoli
As hard as I try, I can never seem to taste every flavour at Florence’s best gelateria in one trip. The last week I was there, I actually stayed right across the Piazza della Santa Croce from the shop, and would pop in every night before closing for a work break and snack. But somehow I gravitate towards the same flavours a few nights in a row, or get on a phase of trying all the fruits or all the chocolates. I never make it through.
3. Climb the Steps Inside the Dome of the Duomo
Brunelleschi’s famous climb eludes me not for reasons of fitness or even time. I’ve just been put off by the price and the overwhelming masses of tourists. But I need to suck it up, grab my camera, and maybe get an assignment to force me to take the trip. The method he used to create two domes at once to give support to each other was nothing short of genius. And Galileo’s secret holes in the roof to check that the sun did not rotate around the earth have to be seen to be believed.
4. Shop for Produce at the Mercato Nuovo
Florence’s most famous market, the mercato nuovo lies in the midst of another highly touristed area I tend to avoid: the train station/San Lorenzo neighbourhood. I never stay in this part of the city and consequently only make it to the grand, wrought-iron edifice after the vendors have packed up and headed home.
5. Walk to Old City Walls
The walls themselves aren’t, or at least barely are, there, but the towers that marked the entrances and exits to historic Firenz remain. Since the city wasn’t and still isn’t huge, you can walk the whole perimeter in one day and take in the less-visited, more local neighborhoods that still mark the outskirts of the city.
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