Have you repeatedly heard that the people who visit Florence never want to leave? Well, I did the legwork and can confirm it…it happened to me. Florence, the capital of Italy’s historic Tuscany region, home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture, is a place one should experience. The best part is that it can completely be achieved by foot; so grab a pair of comfortable shoes, close your eyes, and follow us on this brief, imaginary tour through the magical Firenze.
Florence, despite being the region’s capital, is one of the leading walkable cities in the world. One can start leisurely walking from the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, a masterpiece designed by Leon Battista Alberti, bathed with the white and green of its serpentine marble Within a few steps you will find the Basilica di San Lorenzo, which was the city’s cathedral for 300 years and its home to the extraordinary Medici Chapels. As one moves along to the Piazza San Giovanni, settled between the narrow streets of the center, you will find the enormous Duomo complex, with the San Giovanni Battista Baptistery and Cathedral with their wonderful Giotto’s bell tower and Brunelleschi’s remarkable Dome.
With the cathedral behind, you will reach Piazza Della Signoria, where you will discover another tower that overlooks the area: Palazzo Vechio, a XIV century building that functions as the City Hall. In front of this historic building sits the Loggia dei Lanzi, its wide arches and Corinthian capitals guarding a treasure trove of sculptures like Perseus by Cellini and The Rape of the Sabines by Giambologna. A few steps from the square you will find one of the most visited places in the world, the Uffizi Museum, with its boundless collection of unique masterpieces and historical works by Raphael, Botticelli, Giotto, Titian, Caravaggio, Tintoretto and many others.
As the day winds down and the bohemian spirit arises in Firenze, you a can walk a few meters down to the riverside and easily reach the famous Ponte Vecchio and the equally celebrated Vasari Corridor that connects the Uffizi to Palazzo Pitti, once home of the Medicis. Walking along the Arno River you will find yourself in a hip neighborhood that is the traditional home to Florence’s artisans, their bottheghe(workshops), independent boutiques and hybrid forms of both. You will be enraptured by the vitrines featuring unique artwork and goldsmithing.
A little further down you will find Boboli Gardens, the green lung of the city. To cap the night with an absolute bohemian treat, La Murata is the place to go; this cool square was formerly a monastery and the prison of Florence. Presently it is a vibrant café and restaurant with an alternative vibe and great acoustics, a great place to listen to live music, watch film screenings, public debates and art exhibits.
Florence makes a very worthwhile trip, an escape to an old world of history, art and craftsmanship. A welcoming respite to the rat race. Are you up to experience memorable days and marvelous walks through Florence and relish in the centuries of history you will come across?
Edwin Rosario Mazara is the founder of Spanglish Voces, a non-profit promoting community building through the arts. He also founded La Sala Talks, an outlet that communicates diverse perspectives within our cultures. Currently serves as a Communications Director at the NY State Senate—an activist who loves reading, la música & conversations & las miles de historias de los desconocidos.