Friday, December 9, 2011

Where love affairs begin but never end…

 “Every corner you turn, expect to find something you will fall in love with.”

I do not mean the Italian men or women, (although I want to!!), but the place. And the place I am talking of is Firenze or Florence as the world calls it.

Florence, set on the Arno River is a lively, magnetic, romantic and unbelievably busy town oozing with architectural brilliance. Amongst many other things it is the birthplace of the Renaissance and is known as the Renaissance City. You can keep coming back to the town and not get enough of it even though it is relatively small. The town is an important part of history, and why wouldn’t it be after giving birth to world class artists like Bernini, Baroque, Michelangelo and Medici amongst others.

Stand on the Arno Bridge for hours and see the sun come up or go down, but you will not get tired of it. Get lost in the magnificence of an architectural marvel like the Duomo or overawed by Michelangelo’s David, but what you will fall in love with, eventually, is the city’s charming cobbled lanes and vibrant life that it exudes!

Someone had once told me that you can only “see” the city once you walk through it and there has never been a truer word. The place is a treasure chest of art and history- every corner we turned, every piazza we visited there had something delightful on offer. You can walk on the streets all day long absorbed by the busy-ness of this town.

Piazza della Signora, the town’s largest and busiest square emanates a bit of everything. Evenings fly by as you sit among the locals and while your time away in carefree chatter. You turn from observer to awestruck admirer while admiring the monumental structures of David (a fabulous copy of the original of course) along with other architectural wonders surrounding them. It’s almost as if Baroque, Bernini, Michelangelo seemed to think of the piazzas as their canvas as they set to immortalize the area with their work. People just sit there reading, accompanied by soft music played by musicians nearby, enjoying some alone time. This social gathering in the evenings is a ritual ardently followed by all Florentines- it is the only way to know the town gossip and what is happening in their neighbour’s lives.

In one of these cobbled and often crowded by lanes, a hungry soul finds Gusta Pizza. A restaurant that presents typical Italian pizza albeit with a lot of heart and love…literally! The speciality of this cosy little place is that their pizza’s, on request, are made in the shape of a heart. Their love for pizza and for the customers who buy it is clearly felt. For dessert one has to visit The Diner which offers the most mouth watering of dishes known as the carrot cake and as it melts in your mouth, even with a full tummy, you are left craving for more.

One of the most memorable places in the whole of Florence and every art lover’s fantasy is the Uffizi Gallery and the Museo Del Duomo, both are must visits. The Gallery houses the works of every sculptor, painter and artist the world worships- Bernini, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Tiziano, Rembrandt, Botticelli or Dante- you name it. It is truly awe-inspiring.

Some of the works are so good that many tourists end up buying a lot of these souvenirs as gifts or for personal use. Florence in that way is a shopping haven with something there for everyone. And the only advice one can give to a tourist is being a good haggler, always helps!!
Italians and style go hand in hand. Enter Ponte Vecchio and you will know why. It is only in Florence that one would find specially made rings of the most beautiful kind with a lot of filigree work which makes it really hard for men to control their better halves from lightening their pockets.

At the end of a long day when one seeks nothing but a place of relaxation, they visit Piazzale Michelangelo which not only gives you a breathtaking panoramic view of the Florence but is also home to Michelangelo’s famous sculpture of David.

It’s like what the Eagles once said,
…you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave…

 Claudio Spadi performs to a crowd with the Arno Bridge in the background

 Panoramic View from Piazzale Michelangelo

 Michelangelo's David at Piazzale Michelangelo

Riot on the streets near the Duomo

The Arno river, an eagle eye’s view.

Duomo of Florence

Sumptuous Gusta Pizza

View from the Uffizi Gallery