When I think of Florence, I think of Tuscany, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. The Uffizi’s collection abounds with some of the most important masterpieces – all of which take your breath away. Among these masterworks is Michelangelo’s Tondo Doni (Holy Family) dating between 1506 and 1508 – this particular work is actually his only painting in Florence. During this same period, the great artist sculpted the world-famous David that is truly worth seeing. Artsy – a link to their site is well worth following for current and up to date info www.artsy.net/artist/michelangelo-buonarroti
The Uffizi and Pitti Palace hold the largest number of Raphael’s works – 20 in total. Included in this collection of this master’s works is the Madonna of the Goldfinch. Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation and the extraordinarily beautiful Madonna with Child and Two Angels (1465) by Filippo Lippi is serene and gentle, and the great works of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, pure, sensual and mesmerizing. Also housed in these galleries are works by the controversial Titian, who was most famous for the Venus of Urbino – an erotic and shocking nude for its time. So looking at all this beauty and surrounded by so much of it, it is easy to imagine how one could succumb to Stendhal Syndrome.
The slightly eccentric Caravaggio, on the other hand, whose work highlights the contrast between light and darkness and depicts the terrible gaze of the Medusa, jumps out at you and can surely give you nightmares!
Architecturally, Florence is magnificent; iconic sites such as the Cathedral (or Il Duomo) with its terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and bell tower designed by Giotto stand out in all their glory! Take your pic of exhibitions and museums, every street, nook and cranny leads you to yet another wonder in wonderland.
Eating out in Florence is not difficult; eating well is knowing where to go. I do have a few favourites – my lunchtime choice is the Cantinetta Antinori Wine Bar while dinner at the Trattoria Antico Fattore gives you that authentic “esperienza Fiorentina”. Shopping in Florence is an irresistible part of Italian culture, and I am over the moon when I find something I really like. Unfortunately, there is a big price to pay in Florence. That is, the days when there were just a handful of tourists have gone! Today, it is a hustle and bustle of culture-seeking globetrotters. As a result, I am happy to be going back to my roots down south where, frankly, I find nature just grows on me.