Four years ago, at the end of a summer spent teaching English in small towns around Italy, I decided to take a week to travel to some of the most touristic sights around the country. Eight days and four cities later, I had seen quite a bit. Florence was a spectacle, with the Ponte Vecchio, Duomo, and replicas of the Statue of David stationed in piazzas around the city. It was like a massive free museum.
This time around, my visit to Florence was slightly more hectic. I had planned a grand day filled with ridiculously touristy stops and was pumped to play tourist for a bit of the day trip even though this trip was for work.
But then it rained.
And then I got horrifically lost.
And then I was late for a meeting.
Overall, the odds were really in my favor that day. Luckily, I did get to my meeting, and was able to successfully make it on a bus back to Rome at the end of the day, so I made it to Florence and back, but there were quite a few hiccups along the way. The combination of these three slip-ups made my tourist plans go straight down the toilet. I was not able to take an Insta-worthy shot of the city from the Piazzale Michelangelo that is positioned several hundred meters above the center of the city, or hear the monks singing Gregorian chants at the San Miniato al Monte cathedral, or get an anatomy lesson at the Uffizi’s Accademia Gallery seeing the Statue of David, or get a gelato while strolling through the Piazza della Liberta.
Since I had three and a half days of Florence sightseeing under my belt from my previous trip, I wasn’t as crushed. But it gives me a reason to revisit the city to make sure I go to these places.
Here is what I did see though:
Villa La Pietra is a beautiful villa that was donated to NYU Florence after the owners passed away in the 1900s. The villa is open to the public, even though it is used as a university study away campus. The villa is currently the base of a 5,000+ piece museum collection, and it is stunning. The art pieces are medieval, the furniture would make the Queen of England jealous, the dresses from the former ladies of the villa simply beautiful. And for those that are wishing for a bit of education, the Villa also has fascinating lecture series open to the public through their series called La Pietra Dialogues.
After an afternoon visit strolling the 57-acre grounds of the villa, I headed back down to the city center to capture the night time views at the Duomo. A quick cioccolato caldo later, I was on the fast train back to Rome.
This train is magnificent – zooming through the Tuscan countryside at 245 km/hour, it gets passengers from Roma Termini to Firenze Santa Maria Novella in 1.5 hours. While the prices jump substantially the closer to your time of departure you wait to book your tickets, they are quite a bargain. The day before price was 35 euro, whereas a two week in advance purchase would go for about 14 euro each way.
So perhaps another trip to Florence is in order in the future to complete the city travel check list.