On this cool morning in southern Alabama with no European trip on the immediate horizon, I am wishing I was in Florence. It is strange to have fallen in love with a city that is so different from where I come from, which contains delights that I didn't even know existed a few years ago, but I guess the saying is true "you can't choose who (or what) you love."
Travel writers always seem so worldly, like they have always known about the world at large, where they wanted to visit and such, but they just haven't gotten the chance to reach the fulfillment of their knowledge until they visited these places. Perhaps I am projecting, but I feel like the complete opposite. I didn't care about tons of things until I traveled. And I bet there are still millions of experiences and places that I am currently closed off to and entirely unknowledgable of (Asia and South America come to mind). So, I am not ashamed to admit that I didn't really even know Florence existed until I stumbled across a Samantha Brown show a few years ago. All my life I had heard of Venice, Rome, and even knew the names of Naples and Milan, but for some reason, Florence wasn't on my radar. I had, of course, heard of the David, but had no idea where it might be and didn't really care. I knew of the Renaissance, but was still in the mindset where it didn't really matter to me where it started.
1. Since our initial visit, we have returned for a multi-day trip and it lost none of its charm for us. We only loved it more.
2. The people are so warm and generous, especially considering that their city is overrun by bumbling tourists most of the time. (Daniela and Roberto, thank you so much for an authentic evening in Fiesole!)
3. The gelato is better here than anywhere else in Italy, and no one will convince me otherwise. Though I encourage you to try, as I love trying new gelato.
4. No where else immerses you in art like this city does. I feel my spirit constantly getting fed in Florence, just from what I see walking down the street (as corny as that sounds).
5. The food is crazy good, and relatively inexpensive. I never knew something that came out of a microwave could taste so good until I stopped at just a little enoteca, and tried some warmed up pasta with fresh Tuscan bread and olive oil. Seriously. Better than any Italian food I have had in the states.
I could go on, but I won't. I have trouble believing that any city will prove higher in my estimation than Florence. London came close, and Venice sure tried hard, but there is something about how my heart swells when I see that dome that I don't think can be replicated. Only thanks to travel could a little southern girl find her place halfway around the world.