I’ve often heard people say that they were ‘blown away’ by a city or country or that they fell utterly in love with somewhere and I’d never quite understood it because I’d never experienced it myself. Until now.
I’m lucky to have travelled quite a bit and been to many beautiful places and I find it hard to fall ‘in love’ with somewhere. I can’t find the words to explain it eloquently but of course I can appreciate the beauty and culture of a place but I’m not necessarily mesmerised or in awe. But that changed last night.
We landed in Florence at around 7pm and after a quick shower at our hotel, the absolutely stunning Four Seasons, we headed out for dinner. We decided to walk to the restaurant, Buca Lapi, which took us past the Duomo (Florence’s Cathedral).
I have only ever seen the Duomo in pictures that seem to be a panorama of Florence, where it mainly focuses on the dome, so when I was walking past it I could not get over the size of it. It is huge! It is also so intricate in its design. I was actually speechless. I couldn’t stop looking at it. I almost had to pick my jaw up off the floor.
I thought if this looks this amazing at night, just imagine what it looks like during the day! I must say, I was also surprised by how quiet it was. There was hardly anyone around, which was lovely. Even though we are tourists ourselves in Florence, it’s refreshing when a huge tourist attraction is actually free of them!
So in the morning, we headed back to the Duomo and purchased our tickets (€15 each). They are valid for 24 hours from the first point of entry but you can only enter each area once. We started in the Baptistry, which is a separate building. The ceiling is stunning! You cannot imagine how anyone could actually paint it. Outside, at the North Doors, the door is made of 28 bronze panels, which took Lorenzo Ghiberti 21 years to create. It is a historical work of art too as historians believe that it’s the first proper Renaissance work.
We then went into the Duomo itself and walked around. We also explored under the Duomo, where there are lots of relics that were discovered. After that, we decided to climb up to the dome. Wow. Little did we know just how many steps there were! Some are really steep too and it can feel quite claustrophobic at times so it’s not for the faint-hearted. But when you reach the top? The most fabulous panoramic views over Florence.
The steep climb was certainly worth it! Unfortunately what goes up, must come down. At least the decent was a bit easier although going down flights of very narrow spiral stairs did make us a bit dizzy.
As our tickets are still valid until around 11:30 tomorrow, we will tackle the Campanile (the tower), in the morning.
Florence, you have my heart. I’m already planning my return even though we still have two nights here!