My Summer’ish European Experience: Florence

By Liso Donaldson    02-Aug-2013 01:21 UTC+02:00

Go, See, Write: Florence

City-of-FlorenceFlorence is the capital of the region of Tuscany in Italy. It has been ranked by Forbes as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and the city is noted for its history, culture, Renaissance art, architecture and monuments. Florence is also an important city in Italian fashion, being ranked within the top fifty fashion capitals of the world.

Our full day in Florence started off at the Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo Square) for our group photo with a panoramic view of the Florentine landscape behind us. From this observation point the most recognizable and subsequently largest focal point is the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower) which is the main church of Florence.

The cathedral located in Piazza del Duomo is one of Italy’s largest churches. Construction started in the 13th century and was left without a roof until the 15th century when the magnificent dome was built. You can visit inside the cathedral or climb up the dome for amazing city views. I just visited the inside of the Cathedral; my legs weren’t going to make any more stairs!

Our last two stops as the group before we had our free time were our visits to Leonardo’s Leather School for a demonstration on the techniques and skills used to make good leather and to learn more about why Florentine leather is so famous, as well as to the Walters Silver and Gold store.

Finally it was free time which roughly translated into eat Gelato (ice cream) and shop! Florence is a shop-a-holics haven. The heart of the shopping district is in an area about the size of a city block in between the Piazza Signora and the Duomo. You will find your classic Italian labels like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vutton mixed in with smaller local fashion labels such as H&M, Zara and Top Shop. Needless to say, the majority of the shopping that I did on the entire tour was in Florence.

Besides shopping, eating pizza and learning about leather and gold one can simply cannot visit Florence without going to see the statue of David. The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze – or ‘Gallery of the Academy of Florence’, is a famous art museum in Florence and the home of Michelangelo’s sculpture, David. It also has other sculptures by Michelangelo and a collection of Renaissance paintings.

The Galleria dell’Accademia was founded in 1784 and has housed the original David by Michelangelo since 1873. The sculpture was allegedly brought to the Accademia from its previous outdoor location on Piazza della Signoria for reasons of conservation. The ‘David’ in the Accademia is the original. There is also a replica in the Piazza della Signoria.

After a full day of eating, shopping until we dropped and staring at the naked David we had a quick hotel stop for a shower and change of clothes and then it was on to our full Tuscan dinner followed by a night on the town to Florence’s largest night club Space Electronic Disco.

Our authentic Tuscan meal consisted of five courses; an appetizer of cold meats, a pasta course, another course of meat balls and mashed potatoes, another course which was chicken,and finally chocolate cake was served as desert and our last dish of the night. Usually locals would have a coffee or a liqueur to wash all the food down and end off the night on a good note, but as we were off to paint the town red we made do with wine and I don’t recall anybody complaining!

Space Electronic Disco is Florence’s biggest and most popular night club with both the locals and the tourists. It has two levels, 2 bars and a cloak room where you can keep your hand bags and or coats for 1€. It also has a unique charging system where upon entry you get a drinking card which you use instead of cash when buying drinks at the various bars.

The bar tenders simply clip your card for each drink you order then at the end of the night at the door you pay your bill according to the amount of clips on your card. It’s great in terms of not having to deal with cash when trying to buy drinks amongst all the hustle and bustle that is usually at a bar when a club is packed.

The first floor in this club is for karaoke and has a pool table; it’s more of a chilled vibe. The next floor up is where the DJ and all the action is. I enjoyed every minute, they played great music and we danced the night away, the DJ even did a shout out to all the South Africans in the club, I believe I was the only one but I sure did represent!

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