Usually, when I arrive in a new city I am very excited by it. I see all the good things about it and think, this would be a great place to live. Then I spend a few days walking around and start to see its blemishes. By the time I have seen all the major sites I am ready to leave – glad I have come but knowing this is not a place I could ever live. Fighting the incessant, unruly crowds to see the sites in Venice and Rome I was thoroughly wore me out. So the thought of going to yet another culture and art-filled Italian Renaissance town was enough to gag me. But I stuck to my plan to visit Florence, knowing I would kick myself later if I scratched it off the list.
The Eurostar express train traveled through the Tuscan countryside, with its tiny hilltop towns, arriving in Florence less than two hours after departing Rome. I dragged my suitcase and backpack the four blocks to the hotel I had booked and, after getting a bite to eat at a restaurant down the block, fell into bed and slept like a dead person. The next morning, with very little enthusiasm, I set out to discover Florence.
I started with the church that everyone wants to see in Florence, Santa Maria Del Fiore Cathedral, more commonly referred to as Il Duomo because of its giant dome. This cathedral is breathtaking in both size and design. In front is the circular Baptistry of John the Baptist, with its enormous carved brass doors. Beyond the Baptistry sits the Cathedral, a white, pink and green marble monolith backed by a giant dome, and its matching Campanile (bell tower). Continue reading