I had really been looking forward to visiting Florence. What had I been expecting? I’m not really even sure. I am sure I probably expected too much…the birthplace of the Renaissance, covered in the fingerprints (sometimes literally) of the greatest artists of the time. Architectural innovations developed here that spread the world over. A city whose misty history is steeped in intrigue and murder and, well, Machiavelli.
What I found was a chunky, heavy city (sometimes even gaudy) with very narrow sidewalks overflowing with people who also tugged luggage. As crowded as the city was, I am so glad we didn’t go at the high season. Lots of buildings and things were covered and being refurbished or renovated or restored. We heard English as much as other languages, quite surprisingly, and rarely ever encountered someone who couldn’t speak to us. We found mostly mediocre food, with occasional bright spots, probably because our price range dictated mediocre restaurants; it was very expensive almost everywhere.
We also found occasional jewels, a few masterpieces, and some fun moments, and consistently the best cappuccinos ever.
But the view from the Piazza Michelangelo was very pretty, even in the rain. And amazingly, I could see the old city walls, reminding me that this was once a fortified city, often having to defend itself from other armies.