We arrived past midnight last night at our self-serviced apartment in Florence. I had anticipated this so I made sure not to book any tours on our first day. We woke up late around eight-thirty in the morning and prepared for the day. After our homemade breakfast of toast, butter and apricot preserve and 3n1 coffee from Manila, we decided to walk to the city center armed with the city map of Florence provided by our apartment manager. It was a long walk and by this time Florence felt hot like the Philippines. It was summer in Florence after all. Since it was our first time to walk the route, it took us almost forty-five minutes to reach the city because we were still trying to familiarize ourselves with the environment. As soon as we arrived in the city, we referred to our tour voucher for Cinque Terre the next day to look for the designated meeting place. This was to ensure that tomorrow, we will not be late looking for the location and lose the opportunity to see gorgeous Cinque Terre.
For this first day we decided to board the red Hop On- Hop Off bus to go sight-seeing around the city. All these buses have specific routes that take you to many touristic sites. You only need to purchase a bus ticket that will take you to the areas you want to visit that day on the bus itself. But because I did not know this at that time, I had to buy my 3-day Ho-Ho bus ticket online from Manila. When you see an interesting site that you want to take a photo of or a selfie, you just get down from the bus on designated stops and when you are finished and want to move on to your next destination, you just wait for the next red bus.
There was one tourist site we really wanted to visit. Piazzale Michelangelo (Michelangelo’s Square). Designed by architect Giuseppe Poggi, the piazza was built to honor the renaissance sculptor and artist, Michelangelo. In the centre of this florentine piazza stands a bronze David sculpture that looks more green than bronze. David stands wearing nothing but his birthday suit, standing tall and proud, watching over golden Florence.
This piazza is located high up on a hill overlooking the beautiful city of Florence where you can see and enjoy the bridges over the Arno river, the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio and many more historic sites. This is a great location to get a panoramic shot and awesome selfie just like what I did.
The view of Florence was simply breathtaking. It was so beautiful there was no way you can take a bad photograph of Florence from that vantage point.
I came to the florentine piazza at noon time. I vowed to myself that I would come back here during sunset when everything is golden and magical so that I can better appreciate the beauty of this place. Despite the harsh heat of the midday sun, I acknowledged to myself that Florence is so beautiful. To my opinion, even more beautiful than Paris. Don’t get me wrong. Paris is also beautiful but Florence is ancient yet romantic. Magic hangs in the air suspended like dewdrops and all you need to do is look up to the heavens, reach out with the tip of your tongue to catch those invisible dewdrops. Then you fall in love. I do not know what it is… It must be the way the wind caresses your skin. Florence was made so people can fall in love here. This place was made for Love.
One thing though that mar this beautiful place is it is over crowded with tourists. It is not possible to go to a place without running into other tourists; or take a photo or selfie without strangers included in your photo. This place is so beautiful that its beauty is also its curse. I said to myself: Florence must be so gorgeous if it is not overrun with tourists. I would love to enjoy Florence without tourists around but how? It is after all a tourist destination. Is it even possible?
YES! It is possible. I found out on the second day that it is possible to enjoy a Florence with no crowd around. No other tourists in sight but myself. But there is a special but doable condition to follow. I discovered this “special condition” by accident. So I am sharing it with you now so you can also enjoy Florence by yourself but only for a limited time so you need to be really committed and fast because you are racing against time.
So what is this special condition to see Florence solo without other tourists? Wake up very early at dawn at five a.m. and explore early. Get the beautiful photos you need with no photo bombers and once done, go have an early cup of coffee in some nice Italian cafe.
THE NEXT DAY…
Here is my proof!
This is where we spent a longer time savoring Florence by ourselves. We stood or sat ourselves on the bridge, watched and waited for the sky to change from dark violet to soft lavenders. I closed my eyes to listen to the silence, enjoying the moment, knowing this is flitting. I say a short prayer of thanks for being here and the gift of this special moment. I took a few photos here and there marking the moment.
Two snapshots of the same lamppost over the Arno river with its light fast fading as the morning light raced to embrace me.
We probably stayed on this bridge for 10 minutes and we moved on to get to our meeting place for our trip to Cinque Terre. As we walked some more, we came across this interesting looking building. It is just amazing because the day before, we were also in this same spot and this was crawling with tourists. But this early morning it looked like this when we passed by. No people yet and vehicles passing by. Just neatly parked motorbikes and cars. But this won’t last for a long time. Soon, in another half-hour perhaps, establishments will start opening to clean up and open for breakfast. And no doubt, tourists will start flocking the streets to look for their favourite cafes for their early morning coffee and breakfast.
I loved sharing with all of you my experience of Florence on my first and second day. Watch out for my adventure to Cinque Terre next weekend. I will take you to an exciting mediterranean adventure to these five beautiful coastal towns that will hopefully inspire you to go and check it out yourself.
Don’t forget to bring your sunblock and sunhat!!!