Jourdan Abroad: A Weekend in Florence

The Duomo

The Duomo

Home to the historic Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery, and Michelangelo’s original statue of David, Florence is a center for Italian culture. Although a relatively small city, Florence has a large proportion of the main attractions of Italy, making it a priority on my travel list.

Overlooking the river

Overlooking the river

I grabbed two of those wonderful roommates of mine and headed to the land of sensational food and superior quality leather! We booked an Airbnb near the central market on the northwest side of town, which turned out to be a perfect location.

Giotto Bell Tower and Cathedral

Giotto Bell Tower and Cathedral

The first night we ate at ZaZa’s not knowing that it’s a highly recommended restaurant in the area. Lucky find! After weeks of only eating pasta (we lead difficult lives), beef was a nice change and delicious. We ate outside, in the market square with lights hanging all around and people playing the accordion; truly a picturesque Italian dining experience. After dinner we explored the city, following the bustling streets from one piazza to another. The town was very easy to navigate, with famous museums, piazzas, monuments, and churches around every corner. The piazzas were lively with people playing music, selling trinkets, dining, and shopping. I even rode a carousel!

Riding bikes on the Ponte Vecchio

Riding bikes on the Ponte Vecchio

On Saturday we rented bikes from the shop by our apartment and rode across the Ponte Vecchio Bridge to Piazzale Michelangelo. I strongly recommend renting bikes! The weather was gorgeous all weekend and we had a blast riding around town, not to mention it cuts down on travel time to and from attractions. The bikes are 12 euros for the whole day and come with a lock so it’s very convenient. Piazzale Michelangelo is to the south, slightly outside of the main city center but has the most breathtaking views of the entire city. It is quite a hike up the hill, but there is a nice rose garden about halfway up, and the end result is astounding. The piazza overlooks all of Florence, capturing the city and Italian countryside all at once. The Duomo, cathedral, river, turquoise synagogue, and Santa Croce are all sprawled out in front of the surrounding hills; an image I will never forget.

Forte Belvedere with featured exhibit Human

Forte Belvedere with featured exhibit Human

On the same side of the bride just down the road is Fort Belvedere, a large fortress built in the late 16th century with equally as breathtaking views of the city. The fort is often used for art exhibitions, and housed a series called “Human” by Antony Gormley while we were there.

Santa Croce

Santa Croce

Later on Saturday we had tickets to the famous Uffizi Gallery. The gallery is one of the most famous collections of art in the world and took us about three hours to get through! I would suggest setting up a guided audio tour in advance so you get more information about each piece, including Leonardo da Vinci originals.

On Sunday we went to the Santa Croce church and had lunch in the piazza. We did not get to go inside, so I would recommend allotting enough time to do so, but just the outside was wonderful and once again bustling with people.

Florence is one of my favorite Italian cities so far because of its quaint atmosphere mixed with some of the world’s most important history. Be sure to put this on your list! People often say to do the city as a day trip but I highly disagree. We stayed a full weekend and still didn’t get to see everything, including the Academia gallery that houses the statue of David. Florence deserves more time!

Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo

Jourdan Wilke
Study Abroad Fall 2015
Finance & Accounting Double Major
Texas Tech University
Learn more about studying abroad at John Cabot University.

Learn more about studying Economics and Finance at John Cabot University.

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