First stop during the big Italy & Spain trip in 2022 and M’s first every Italian city to visit was glorious Firenze.

We arrived on a warm November Monday afternoon with a train from Rome airport. Took a very early morning direct flight from Oslo, landed on Fiumicino airport, hopped on a 40 minute train from the airport to the Stazione Termini in Rome where we embarked on the fast train FrecciaRossa train to Firenze.

St Maria Novella

It took around hour and a half to reach the main train station in Firenze, named after a neighboring church, St Maria Novella.

The friars designed the church, the building began in the mid-13th century (about 1276), and lasted 80 years. The church was consecrated good hundred and fifty years after, in 1420
In 1360, a series of Gothic arcades were intended for the sarcophagi added to the façade
Alberti used the green marble of Prato, also known as serpentine, a metamorphic rock from the Apennine Serpentinite rocks, typical of the Prato area
Piazza Unità d’Italia

We had around five full days to enjoy the capital of Toscana so we rented an Airbnb in Oltrarno neighborhood. We wanted to be way from the crowd, but still close to the city center and being just 15 minutes by foot from the main square Oltrarno was just perfect.

Today the largest museum complex in Firenze, Palazzo Pitti was built for the wealthy banker of the same name, Luca Pitti in mid 14th century. In 1549 it was bought by the Medici family. Through out of decades it was expanded and so became a treasure house filled with luxurious things (paintings, plates, jewelry etc). In the late 18th century, Napoleon used the palace as his power base, and later the palazzo served as the royal palace of the newly united Italy. The first King of united Italy, Victor Emmanuel III, donated the palace and its contents to the Italian people in 1919

Oltrarno is a very quiet and nice neighborhood, close to the Basilica di Santo Spirito, filled with trattorias, bakeries, ice cream shops and a short walk from all important must-see monuments and locations. For the ones situated a bit further away, we used a perfectly complicated public transport network. As usual it is with Italians. We actually managed to download and use the public transport app.

Italians are not so much of a technology nerds. Yes, they have all the apps possible, but when it comes to using them, there’s where it gets a bit complicated. You either have to have an Italian phone code number or Italian heritage, and when you finally make the use of the app, the complicated route scheme makes your life even more complicated so you decide it’s not worth it. I’m going to walk anyway.

Well, Florence has done its homework so we were able to navigate our way with the help of google maps and transport app together 🙂

We didn’t have any strict plan and tours pre organized. M was still so young and I was unsure about keeping him interested as caring for him while walking was a work on its own. Traveling abroad just to enjoy the architecture, food, wine and warm autumn days was a decent accomplishment.

While in Firenze I had a huge wish to visit both Pisa and Siena but I decided to be flexible and make plans once we were in Italy already.

After couple of days in Firenze, when we checked the weather report, I took the opportunity to do a bit of exploring on my own. It was suppose to rain while M and his father took the midday nap, I visited the Duomo, climbed the tower and dropped by the Salvatore Ferragamo museum. A good decision it was.

Remembering red Bologna, the first impression of Firenze was warm earth tones, especially orange color. The city is full of small antique shops that are facing the streets; people are well dressed with scarves, shoes and glasses frames all color matching, of course. Hard to be misses also were the perfume fragrances that people are using in abundance. Something so hard to find here where we currently live 🙂

Luxury brand known for modern, Italian-crafted leather goods, apparel & accessories for men & women was founded in 1921 by Guccio Gucci

When it comes to the beauty of the city I can’t be objective here, as my whole schooling was evolved around Renaissance art and Italian language history.

Many of these Renaissance places follow the same rectangular layout with inner courtyard, symmetrical structure and façade patterns. They are often three stories building with a facade divided and decorated with classical architectural ornaments (pilasters, entablatures). Given the fact they are almost the same, it’s not so difficult to mixed them up. NOT the palazzo that I was originally looking for, just a no named one 🤦

It’s a gorgeous city filled with art, architecture, history, food, fashion and aperol spritz at every little corner you pass. Not the most child friendly, as the pavements are so narrow, and there is so much cobblestones, so I guess Italian kids learn how to ride motorbikes at age of zero 🤣

Situated on the river Arno, Firenze might be the second most popular tourist location in Italy, just next to Rome.

Ponte Vecchio, a medieval bridge consisting of a three segmental arches is the only bridge in Florence spared from destruction during World War II
The meat market that was operating at the time in Ponte Vecchio was moved to avoid its smell reaching into the passage, and its place was taken by the goldsmith shops that still occupy the bridge

The eight most populated city in Italy and the most populated city in Tuscany, Firenze is visited by 10 to 16 million tourist each year. We spotted around third during our visit. I can’t imagine how does the city feels during the summer.

Speaking of the open markets, Mercato del Porcellino situated in a 16th century loggia got it’s name after the bronze sculpture of the boar (porcellino, it = little pig, eng). Under the roof of the loggia you can find all sorts of goods, t-shirts, souvenirs, bags, belts and small stuffed animals in the shape of porcellino.
As with many bronze sculptures in the world, the little pig is no immune to peoples harassment. The tradition is to either put a coin into the boar’s gaping jaws, for good luck, or just rub the boar’s snout to make sure to come back to Firenze once again

Anyone in love with Italy, art, architecture, bit of food and wine will and definitely should visit Firenze once in his life. If not live there. Oh that would be a dream. But without the baby strollers 🥴

Strolling through the city

The center of medieval European trade and finance, Firenze became major political, economic and artist center during the 14th and 15th century. It’s considered the birthplace of Renaissance with all of the architecture to witness that fact.

The most iconic building, seen almost form every angle of the city is the famous Duomo, or Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

Il Duomo


The construction of Il Duomo started in 1296 in the Gothic style according to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and finally completed in 1436 with the magnificent dome; work of Filippo Brunelleschi
The octagonal structure in stone and brick masonry, with external diameter 54.8 metres, in fact consisting of two domes, is considered the largest brick dome ever
463 steps leads the way to the top of the dome
Totally different from the corolful facade is the vast and empty Gothic interior
The pavement in colored marble, attributed to Baccio d’Agnolo and Francesco da Sangallo
For a small price of 30 euros one can buy the ticket that give him the access to all of the monuments (Cathedral, Dome, Baptistery, Tower and the Museum)

One of the oldest buildings in the city, constructed between 1059 and 1128 in the Firenze Romanesque style is the octagonal baptistery of St John, found standing just across the Cathedral.

Up to 1935, the Baptistery was the only place where Florentines were baptized and it’s worth mentioning that all of the most famous Florentines like Dante, Amerigo Vespucci, and members of the Medici family were baptized in this baptistery (not available for visit at the time of our stay bcs of renovation)

The Baptistery is renowned for its three sets bronze doors with relief sculptures.

All of the original doors are now held and preserved in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo where one can enter for free with any of the ticket combinations bought for the complex.

The museum, located just east of the Duomo contains many of the original works of art created for Firenze Cathedral.

Most of the exterior sculptures removed from the buildings are now replaced by replica pieces, with the museum conserving the originals.

The famous Pietà sculpture with crippled Christ by Michelangelo is one of the many sculptures in the never-ending museum.

The face of Nicodemus under the hood is considered to be a self-portrait of Michelangelo himself

During the rule of Medici family, a wealthy Italian banking and political dynasty family that birthed some popes, Florence became a mecca for the artists and architects, such as Cimabue, Giotto, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Masaccio, Ghiberti, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Paolo Uccello, da Vinci and Michelangelo.

On more than 40 occasions the river Arno has flooded the city. On 3rd of November in 1844 the river rose to the marked level
The Primo Chiostro, the main cloister, houses the Cappella dei Pazzi, built as the chapter house and completed in the 1470s, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi, the one responsible for the design of the dome of the Duomo


Thanks to the works of the Great Three; Boccaccio, Dante and Petrarch, the language or better say the dialect from Firenze, spoken in the city during the 14th century became a model for the standard Italian language now official language of Italy.

Together with Rome, Firenze had so much influence on Italian history and art making a huge impact on the rest of the world. It’s no wonder that the city is visited by millions yearly, with some coming to study the art and some settling down and never leaving this charming beauty.

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