Italy is a place of wonder. In summer time it is beautiful. In the early morning the streets are quiet and easy to navigate. This quietness distils everything that is great about Florence. Unlike many other European cities Florence is not a 24 hour place. It is busy during the day, entertaining in the evening and sleeps at night.
The people of Florence in the morning are polite and well dressed. There is no rush and a calm sits in a place where bustle lives during the day. As you walk around the beauty of the city is no longer obscured by tourist groups and the clamour of day trippers. Florence sits and smiles like a content older lady that has been shielded from life’s extremes. Content in who she is. Protected by those who love her.
Great European Cities
I have noticed that great places always have two things in common. They feed your appetite and they feed your soul. When I mean appetite I don’t just mean food, I mean they feed your appetite for life. Florence is like an Italian bakery, perfectly presented and filled will delightful treats for your eyes, ears and mind.
We arrived by train from Southern France. The Italian trains feel like you are traveling on a very large Scalextrix set. All of the exposure to the noise and the jerky movement have been removed from these trains. You feel the speed, but it feels controlled like a jet on rails.
Mostly I feel that modern transport has become very utilitarian. Most of the glamours aspects of travel have been redacted by economics in a way that makes everything purely functional and only just bearable. Which equates to being quite dull. Efficient but dull. In this sea of mediocrity it’s the small things that can make all the difference. This is what the Italians have mastered.
When traveling on the train as a symbol of their attention to detail they come through the carriages not just to check your tickets but to offer a small macchiato and a small biscuit. It creates a feeling as if you are being cared for, this for me changes the feeling from commuting to traveling. In this one small gesture you feel a part of the soul of Italy.
Arriving in Florence
I always believe it is best to arrive knowing where you are. This sounds simple but it can be a real asset to know in which direction and how far your hotel is. This way, even if you take a taxi you won’t be taken for a ride, especially in countries where you are not sure about the language and you maybe a bit jet lagged. This is why I find when I am visiting a new city its best to stay in a well known hotel until you know the layout of the place, even if it is only for the first day or so. It’s also good idea to get a local sim if you are spending a few weeks in a country so you can see where you are traveling to via Google maps.
Luckily Florence train station is not far from the centre of town and our taxi ride was about 10 Euro. Helpful when you have suitcases. Our hotel was a modern classic inside a beautiful old building in a side street located near the Duomo. As we stepped out from our Hotel, the afternoon was a buzz with bustling tourists, markets and hole in the wall shops spilling onto the street.
Two doors down from our hotel was a Gelato bar, perfect as a pick me up before we started our discovery in this City. With a beautiful Gelato in my hand and a beautiful city below my feet I knew I had arrived in Italy.