First Impressions: Florence, Italy (Firenze)

Florence, Italy (Firenze) Duomo skylineWe’ve been in Florence, Italy for almost a week now. It has been almost three weeks since we sold our house. It went by so quickly. I think this year abroad will be the same way.

My first impression of Firenze (Finn said we should use the name the locals use – good advice) is that it is the color of butter: pale yellow, saffron, cream, goldenrod, ochre, and amber. When I look at my Instagram page, there is a definite color trend.

Our Airbnb apartment is pretty good. I don’t love everything about it, but I’d probably feel that way about any place. It is clean and well outfitted, close to the Duomo, Piazza Della Signoria, and just about every other tourist sight, and there are two bedrooms. The biggest downside is that there is no outside to send the boys into. We are on a little stone street, like every street in Firenze, and it’s just not a good spot for unattended young kids. That’s something we will look for in our next rental.

You can use this link to get $35 off an Airbnb place!

Florence, Italy (Firenze) streets, crowds, carouselFlorence, Italy (Firenze) Boboli Gardens, Tuscany, olive trees, Arno, Ponte VecchioI didn’t love the city right off. I was awed and interested, but overwhelmed. It’s a hard city. The streets are stone and canyon-like; the stone and stucco buildings are incredibly tall. When we came in from the airport, I couldn’t believe our taxi driver could make the 90-degree turns from one narrow street to the next. There is no vegetation, not even weeds coming through the space between stones.

Now that I have been walking around, I see parks and window boxes. Some of the restaurants put out potted plants to soften the atmosphere. On our second day we strolled around the Boboli Gardens for a couple hours. I definitely needed that nature fix.

Florence, Italy (Firenze) family travel at the Museo Leonardo Da VinciFlorence, Italy (Firenze) family travel, gelatoWe’ve been to a couple museums and churches. All magnificent. We’ve learned about Leonardo da Vinci’s life, art, and inventions at an interactive kids’ museum. We’ve seen where Dante, da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo, Rossini, and Machiavelli, among other Italian greats, are entombed. Anders rode the carousel and Finn and bought Rice Crispies (apparently, oats for oatmeal are not a thing here. Nor muesli.) We’ve shopped at the Central Market for mushrooms, tomatoes, and fish. I’d like to say we’ve eaten out a lot, but until we are high-earning YouTube stars, we are sticking to our own kitchen for the most part.

Since we are traveling for a year, we are trying to find the balance between laying low, working, living a “normal” life, and not missing anything. I’ve been reading a great book about Tuscany and Umbria recommended by my friend Mariann. It is half guidebook, half essay collection, and filled with reminders to take it easy and let Italy seep into you. I am working on that.

Florence, Italy (Firenze) Neptune, streetsFlorence, Italy (Firenze) Santa Croce and Galileo's TombThe thing about Firenze, and I am not the first to say this, is that art and history are everywhere you look. Last night we sat outside, drinking wine and munching on plate after plate of potato chips our waiter kept bringing out. The little bar is about a 30-second walk from our apartment. It’s lovely, but not anything jaw-dropping by Firenze standards. Even there we noticed the stone building we’d passed time after time on our walks was actually a tower, compete with holes for shooting arrows through. An iron dragon must have once held a torch to light the narrow passage. The windows of the building next to us were stained glass. Art and history are really everywhere here in Florence, Italy.

 

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13 thoughts on “First Impressions: Florence, Italy (Firenze)

  1. Steve Coble

    I forgot where to go for the You Tube videos. Looks amazing so far. I’m going to copy my friend Sal Iodice on this, he’s from Naples. Moved to the US when he was 22. Today he teaches the Italian class here at The Villages. We love you all!

  2. valerie scrivner

    Small town experiences are where it’s at, really. Cheaper, more open spaces for kids to explore, more local flavor, more unique. Big Euro cities were visited sparingly on our grand tour.

    1. Mel Post author

      We’ll be staying in more rural setting after this. My husband stayed here for five months about 20 years ago. He wanted to come back, and it was a familiar transition, so we started here. I can’t complain about all the art, history, and architecture, though! And today we go hiking!

  3. Suewan Kemp

    We felt similarly about Prague – we didn’t love it at first but it grew on us. Looks like you are all having fun! We stay about a month in each place and I think it helps you feel much more settled and kids can get used to familiar activities/places. Good luck with your travels.

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