I am always looking for books about Italy that help me to understand the complex history and culture. This short book, easily read in a day, is such a narrative. Given to me by a friend and fellow Italophile, Vicki, who shares my love of all things Italian.
If you are planning a trip to Florence I would encourage reading this book before you arrive.
“David Leavitt brings the wonders and mysteries of Florence alive, illuminating why it is, and always has been, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.”
There are many day trips to nearby towns and cities that you can take from Rome. Florence, Frascati, Tivoli, and Ostia Antica are among some of my favorites. Taking the high speed Frecciarossa (Red Arrow) or Frecciargento (Silver Arrow) from Roma Termini Station to Firenze located just under 300 km to the northwest from downtown Rome, takes 90 minutes. Italy’s high speed trains are a great way to travel, comfortable and ultra modern, maximizing your time.
Among Florence’s many treasures are Michelangelo’s David, Brunelleschi’s Duomo, and Masaccio’s frescoes of Adam and Eve.Depending on how much time and energy you have it is possible to see all three. I recommend buying tickets to the Galleria dell’Accademia (David) and the church of Santa Maria del Carmine (Adam and Eve frescoes) in advance to avoid long lines and wasting valuable time.
One of my favorite itineraries for a day in Florence includes arriving at Santa Maria Novella Station and taking a taxi up to San Miniato al Monte for an incredible view of the city. From the basilica walk the short distance to Piazzale Michaelangelo for another incredible view of the Tuscan valley. From the piazzale look for the stair case at the northwest corner and wind your way down the footpath past the Giardino delle Rose, a hidden gem, to the old city gate at Piazzetta San Miniato. From this point you can wander toward Ponte alle Grazie and cross the bridge from the oltrarno, “beyond the Arno”, quarter of the city into the historic center of the city toward Santa Crocce. This is about a two and one half hour walk of incredible vista’s which allows you to avoid large crowds and plenty of time to visit some of the major attractions. As you wander this particularly beautiful corner of Firenze stop to enjoy a caffe, browse some of the incredible shops, and take as many pictures as you can. You will remember this city for the rest of your life!!