After such a long time, here I am writing about traveling. Traveling to Italy of all things! Not only does it feel surreal to write about it because we were all unable to travel abroad for a while but also because I have dreamt of this country my whole life. Therefore, this belated birthday gift of visiting Florence is still making me happy!

woman sitting on a bridge overlooking ponte vecchio in florence
golden hour sunset in florence

Having daydreamed of Italy for such a long time, I don’t know why it took me this long to actually visit it. Probably because there are too many places I wish to see over there that even a full year wouldn’t be enough time! Overall, I am glad I started off with stunning Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance. We spent four full days in this amazing city and reluctantly left on the fifth morning. Despite seeing everything we wanted to and even having time for a short trip outside of Florence, there was still more to do in this lovely city!

woman standing in front of santa maria del fiore in florence

I knew straightaway that I wanted to get up for every sunrise in Florence. I find early mornings to be surreal, especially in big cities. Walking down empty streets that are normally overcrowded feels like walking through a dream. A few hours later life starts anew and I always wonder if those quiet mornings even happened. On the other hand, the sunsets were always crowded but still enjoyable. Every day started and ended with different colors. As beautiful as sunsets are anywhere, the sun setting over Florence felt a bit more special.

woman overlooking the sunrise in florence

The food in Florence

Now let’s talk about the food! It goes without saying that it was magnificent, delicious and that I miss it ever since returning to Belgium. In a way, it’s a good thing we didn’t stay longer than five days because I had never eaten that much food in my life! There were too many tempting gelatos and pastries to try, as well as dishes with truffles and pecorino. Basically, I never felt hungry during our stay because we were always snacking on biscotti or gelato between meals! 

truffle pasta at cacio & pepe in florence

Related to that subject, I ended up really liking pecorino, which is surprising since I have always disliked cheese. However, pecorino infused with truffles and pecorino infused with pears was a whole other story. As a pescatarian, I found myself eating only vegetarian sandwiches, eagerly awaiting unique pecorino cheeses and truffle spreads. Not to mention schiacciata bread which made for the delicious sandwich base. All in all, Tuscan food exceeded my already high expectations!

gelato from perche no in florence

Come to think of it, we ate out so much during our stay in Florence that I might just make a separate blog post with all of my dining recommendations! All those pasta dishes were accompanied by lots of walking, around 25 km every day. There was too much to see every day and never enough time for it all! Hidden alleyways, old wooden doors, narrow streets, and impressive architecture.

I purposefully chose to skip out on certain museums because I wanted to immerse myself in the city. Besides, I can see myself returning to Florence one winter day, walking through the Uffizi gallery, and enjoying some hot chocolate with a view. Even if that’s a bit hard to imagine now because Florence was the very epitome of summer during our visit! The warm-colored buildings, the vibrant sunsets, the neverending sunshine, and hot temperatures. Exactly how I imagined late summer in Italy!

sunny street in florence

One thing we simply had to do was climb Torre di Arnolfo, the tower that adorns Palazzo Vecchio. While you can climb many structures in Florence, I only chose this one because of its unique views of the cathedral and the city. Maybe next time I’ll ascend to the top of Duomo and Giotto’s Campanile. Arnolfo’s tower was quite impressive and the 360° view of the city from different levels was a real treat!

And naturally, the art historian in me had to stop by the Medici chapel since I had decided to skip out on the Uffizi gallery. How could I miss out on seeing Michelangelo’s work with my own eyes! I couldn’t believe I was looking at something I saw analyzed so much in high school and in college. In fact, every single detail of the chapel was worth marveling at it! 

Having four entire days to explore Florence was great because we didn’t have to hurry and see things in a rush. We were able to take our time and return to our favorite spots often. A few more days and I would’ve felt like one of the locals! Joking aside, it was lovely to discover Florence at a slower tempo and get to know it better. At times it was rather crowded but I imagine we still found it less busy than it used to be.

ponte vecchio in florence at night

If there was one thing I would recommend, then it would be to get up early. You get to experience the city in such a unique way that’s well worth the lack of sleep! Rising before the sun creates a magical aura around Florence, a city radiating with history and art. If only for a few hours, the city seems to exist just for you, as it slowly wakes up. And it’s hard to outdo those golden rays of sunshine as they peak between the buildings!

woman sitting on a bridge in florence

I already know I have to return to Florence for more cantucci, which I found in one bakery and regret not getting more of. And let’s not even mention sandwiches with pecorino! I genuinely found myself looking for a pecorino cheese sandwich in Brussels! In the meantime, I have over 2500 photos from Florence left to reminisce and marvel at this unforgettable city. I don’t know where and I don’t know when but I do know I will see you soon, Italy!

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