For all of its artistic and alluring splendor, the charm of today's Florence (Firenze, in Italian) seems to drown in a mind-numbing sea of tourists. I suppose maybe it serves us right for arriving on the Sunday afternoon of Fashion Week.
The very muddy - but picturesque - Arno River, lifeblood of Florence, Italy. (2008). Walking along the river's beautiful banks, one can imagine how the city served as such brilliant inspiration to some of the Italian Renaissance's best artists, architects, and craftsmen.
Still, Florence is one of Italy's must-see destinations. Cradle of the Renaissance, the city that sits on the banks of the muddy Arno still seriously overwhelms over a half millennium later.
Around every corner you look, there's something famous. Michelangelo's David. Bottecelli's Primavera. The Duomo. The Uffizi. And the list goes on.
Thank God for the amazing local gelaterias, which provide refreshing respite in a spectrum of frosty flavours when one needs a break from Florence's staggering sights. (Yes, even when on the road, we here at starfish and waffles strongly recommend not neglecting your daily recommended intake of the important ice cream food group). Amen.
Ok, here are a few more photographs.
The Ponte alla Carraia. Florence, Italy. (2008). No fewer than nine bridges span the Arno within Florence's city limits, and each has its own mood and character.
The Ponte Vecchio. Florence, Italy. (2008). Spanning the Arno at its narrowest point, the Ponte Vecchio dates back to Roman times and is probably Florence's most famous bridge. It's also the only Florence bridge that was not blown up by retreating Germans during the latter stages of the Second World War. Today, the bridge is lined with busy shops and many tourists.
A view of Florence from the Boboli Gardens. (2008).
A street scene outside the Galleria degli Uffizi, one of the world's great museums. Florence, Italy. (2008). The Uffizi's collection of over 1500(!) masterpieces pretty much constitutes a who's-who of the most famous of Renaissance artists. Some name-dropping: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Caravaggio ... and more.
The imposing Duomo (scaffolding and all), the most recognizable feature of Florence's skyline and one of the iconic landmarks of Italy alongside Rome's Colosseum and Pisa's Leaning Tower. (2008). The world's fourth-largest cathedral, the Duomo took 150 years to complete.
One of the "non-dome" parts of the Duomo. Florence, Italy. (2008). The official name of the towering landmark: the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore. Note the fascinating, intricate pink-and-green facade.