The smaller and cuter version of me used to be a bit of a history and art buff, always eager to visit museums and learn as much as I could, devotedly listening to my nan’s history lessons whenever we explored anywhere new. Now, when I explore somewhere new, I prefer getting to know the place I’m in by trying the local food and meeting people, sitting and watching the city come to life and getting lost off the beaten track. Museums don’t interest me as much and there’s a limit to the amount of history, facts and figures my brain can take before my eyes start to droop with boredom.
But our trip to Florence threw us headfirst into a city bursting with a rich history, some of the world’s greatest art, more churches and cathedrals than we could possibly visit in 2 days, and all at the centre of the Italian Renaissance. Even though simply eating our way around Florence would have sufficed for the whole trip (seriously, the food is amazing), I didn’t want to leave without learning more about this beautiful city.
So when Walks of Italy offered to show us around the Tuscan capital during our trip, the eager to learn little girl inside of me couldn’t resist.
Our sunny morning started just around the corner from our hotel where we met our guide, Ismael, and the rest of our small group. We were each given a headset which meant we would be able to hear Ismael from wherever we were despite all the noisy crowds in the centre of touristy Florence. It was especially handy for me as it meant I could wander off taking photos without missing out on hearing all the important info and asking Mr Ayla to relay it all for me later.
It’s never too early for a bit of nudity so our first stop was the Accademia. We jumped the queue and went straight in to see some of Michelangelo’s sculptures, the most important being David, one half of David and Goliath and one of the most famous statues in the world.
I have to admit that all 14 foot of David is quite an impressive sight to look up at. He also has some pretty perfect bum cheeks despite some other parts of him being, shall we say, slightly out of proportion.
After learning all about David, from his creation in the early 1500’s to more recently when people have tried to destroy parts of him, we left the Accademia and headed to an artist’s workshop. At this point we started to think it was going to be one of those typical tours where we’re pressured into buying something in a shop, but we simply had a chance to see some of the artist’s work and ask any questions before we saw some more of the city.
Unfortunately, as it was around the Easter weekend, the Duomo was closed on the day of our tour which meant we couldn’t see inside. Ismael (and Walks of Italy) had no advance notice of this but Ismael made up for it by showing us some other sights around the city and it didn’t seem like we’d missed out on anything at all.
Not being able to see the Duomo just gives me an excuse (like I really need one) to visit Florence again!
The rest of the morning was spent wandering down Florence’s narrow cobblestone roads, visiting old cathedrals, watching replica artwork being created, rubbing a bronze pig’s nose for good luck, spotting street art, and hanging out in Piazza della Signoria with its weird and wonderful sculptures.
I was actually surprised at how enraptured I became listening to Ismael tell us all about the city’s history and I was rather pleased with myself when I was able to answer a couple of his questions (I always did like being the teacher’s pet). To stop our heads from getting too overloaded with information, we were treated to plenty of quirky and funny stories too. Ismael knew his audience and he kept us interested for the entire morning.
Our final stop was the Ponte Vecchio, where we walked along the bridge and looked out across the Arno River.
With a few last anecdotes and some recommendations on where to get a good bite to eat nearby (of utmost importance when in Italy), we ended the tour with a lot more knowledge of this beautiful city than we had gained when wandering around ourselves the day before.
Have you been to Florence? What was your favourite thing about the city? Let me know in the comments below or find me at:
Lots of thanks to Walks of Italy who hosted our Best of Florence tour. We loved exploring and learning about this beautiful Italian city!