For many reasons I never imagined I would love any other city in the world as much as I loved (and love) Paris. However, when I moved from the 'city of light' to Florence to study photography, it became my new love, and they now sit comfortably side by side as my two favorite cities in the world.
The Adelaide magazine, Adelaide Matters, recently asked me to put pen to paper and write 10 things I love to do in Florence. The only problem I had with that was keeping it down to 10.
I would like to share just a few of the experiences mentioned on that list as well as some of my first black and white photos taken in Italy while at photography school. I developed and printed these images in the school darkroom and it became my 'home' and my obsession. If I was not traveling somewhere or walking the streets of Florence that is where I was to be found, day and night, and I loved it.
One of my favourite areas of Florence is Santa Croce. Start in Piazza Santa Croce and visit the Franciscan Basilica, this church is the burial place for Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli, among other illustrious Florentines. It is also home to some of the most famous late Medieval and Renaissance art in Florence, including frescoes by Giotto, and Donatello’s crucifix.
While you are in the church, take the time to visit the monastery and the Scuola del Cuoio
(The Leather school). Even if you are not in the market for exquisite hand made leather products it is pure pleasure to wander the the old monastic cells and witness the artisans at work.
Cibrèo Caffé and Trattoria
While you don’t have to go far in Florence for a good coffee, take a few minutes of your time to make your way to Cibrèo Caffé (two steps from the wonderful Sant’ Ambrogio food market). Here you will enjoy a warm atmosphere and delicious Italian pastries and coffee with the Florentines.
A further two steps away is Cibrèo Trattoria. Fabio Picchi, the chef and owner is himself a Florentine institution and is the man behind the Cibrèo Caffé,Trattoria and Ristorante. For excellent food at half the price of the Cibrèo Restaurant go to the Trattoria. It can get crowded and you may be sitting on a communal table, but it only adds to the whole experience. Arrive early, they don’t take bookings at the Trattoria.
Cross over the Arno river to the (Oltrarno) and the area of San Niccolò. Make your way towards Via di San Niccolò and the old gate of San Miniato. This area is the heart of San Niccolò and is a corner of Florence that is both vibrant and relaxed.
While here, take a coffee or a panini at caffé Il Rifrullo
followed by a to die for gelato. Another favourite place to eat in this area is Enoteca Fuori Porta
, which is situated just past the old gate and city wall as you make your way up Via del Monte alle Croci to Piazza Michelangelo. This is a must do walk, you won’t regret the climb, the view as you walk up and from the Piazza is worth the effort, I promise.
The Bardini gardens have only been open to the public for a few years and are the less crowded alternative to the better known Boboli gardens. I advise entering from Via dei Bardi #1 red, in San Niccolò (the entrance ticket includes a visit to the Boboli gardens). The gardens are situated on a slope overlooking the city, and if you sit and sip a wine in the loggia you will enjoy yet another superb vista of Florence.
Exit the Boboli gardens at the Pitti Palace,and then head over to the wine bar directly opposite, Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina, sit on the terrace looking onto the Palace, ask the boys to recommend something from their excellent wine list and order the homemade Ravioli, it quite literally melts in your mouth!!
If you are an art lover, you must not miss a visit to the Brancacci Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine. Here you will get to marvel at one of the most famous pieces of Renaissance art in the world, the frescoes depicting the life of St Peter painted by masters, Masolino and Masaccio.
There is so much to do, see and experience in Florence, it is impossible to put it all in a simple list, I hope to be able to share more notes from one of my favourite cities in the world again, I have so many!
Have a great weekend Millie x
All images © Millie Brown