Any time I mentioned that we were heading to Italy for a vacation, people wanted to know all the non-gory details. I dutifully listed off the travel itinerary in order:
Florence?! Oh, Florence is so beautiful!
It was interesting, because everyone that had visited Florence called it beautiful. Nobody said that about Rome.
Rome has plenty of other descriptive words to attempt to do it justice—”beautiful” not being the typical reaction, because its stunning qualities leave us at a loss for words.
So, I wondered what it was about Florence that made it unanimously beautiful. Being that it was a mere 90-minute high-speed train ride away from Rome, we thought…why in the hell wouldn’t we go there?
I kicked back and watched the Tuscan countryside whizzing by, with the perfect soundtrack to complement the picturesque scene, courtesy of the great Billie Holiday.
Side note that Grandes del Jazz 8 is one of my all-time favorite Billie albums, and though I listen to it religiously in the bathtub, I made an exception for the Florence train ride.
I felt the energy from Rome slide out of me onto the train flooring. I imagined it seeping onto the tracks before being swallowed up by the rich hills, turned into a sharp herb or fat produce, and eventually—a mind-blowing meal.
I sighed loudly. The beauty had already begun…the butts came later.
WHY I Call florence Adorably Beautiful
When I first saw the city, I didn’t think Florence was beautiful. I thought it was adorably beautiful.
Perhaps I was jaded after being in the powerful grip of Rome for three days, but the city was a lot smaller than I expected. Still the culture, history, and food seem to burst from the pocket-sized city limits.
There are colors that I find adorable and they graced some of the most intricate architecture I have ever seen.
The Duomo di Firenze reminded me of The Nutcracker, Act 2 specifically in the Land of Sweets. I kept aiming my camera at the church to catch the Sugar Plum Fairy pas de bourree by a window, but sadly it never happened.
Since we used Florence as a travel base for Cinque Terre and Venice, we didn’t get to see as much of the city as we would have liked. There are so many lovely nooks and crannies that I imagine anyone could spend plenty of time soaking in the culture and food.
Speaking of, the food (oh man, the dessert!) was excellent in Florence. Not a single place, even in the tourista zone, disappointed us.
However if you’re short on time like we were, there is really only one food mecca you need to visit…Mercato Centrale. Spend hours there, share and try everything—you won’t regret it.
I know, I know. Where’s the art already?
Now don’t bring out the pitchforks, but I’m not much of a Renaissance art buff. Give me Hitler’s bunker or a Communist museum and I’m the inappropriate weirdo that jumps for joy. This can be a bit of a problem in Florence—because, good morning—Renaissance art is kind of a big deal.
But, there is other art for the taking…plenty of it! Unfortunately the dedicated exploration day we had in Florence was a no-go with the two attractions we wanted to see.
Mr. H is a huge Dali fan, so we hunted down an exhibit that was supposed to be happening—supposed to be. Alas, we found an empty outdoor gallery. I won’t show you the picture, because it was too depressing.
The Museo Galileo was closed by the time we arrived from Rome and got settled in our apartment—at 1pm on a Tuesday. Sure, why not?
The Florence art gods seemed to be playing with us and we were sick and tired of it. And, that’s how we ended up in Poop Corridor.
Poop Corridor and the Italian Toilet Debacle
Feeling that it was blasphemous not to go into at least one museum, we paced in front of the art mothership, Uffizi Gallery, while plugging our noses.
Why? Well, in front of the glorious museum, it smelled like shit. Assuming it was an “old city sewage in the summer” kind of deal, but I didn’t inquire.
I felt bad for Machiavelli, who lives in Poop Corridor for all eternity. Assuming by this pose, that he’s masterminding a prison break with the other statues.
Being that the wait was well over an hour we decided we just couldn’t do it. So, we bolted away from Poop Corridor and wandered into Palazzo Vecchio, because…
1) The obligatory Florence rooftop shot seemed attainable from inside.
Up yours, ominous thunderstorm! You won’t ruin our Florence vacation. You will make our rooftop images even more beautiful. Muah haha!
2) Alright truthfully, we needed to use the loo.
I will digress here for a moment by declaring that the Italian bathroom culture both intrigued and horrified me, and when I got home, I had to research the subject (thankfully, I’m not alone in this declaration).
Trying to find a public bathroom was freaking impossible in both Rome and Florence. It’s truly a great business model, because you have to buy something from a cafe to use the WC.
You might think this loo will somehow be nicer than the public toilets you’ve squatted over in some midwestern park, but it won’t be. Ladies…don’t count on a lid. You’re better off paying for a museum admission as these toilets are bearable.
Or better yet, see if you can get invited into some Italian’s home, since unlike public toilets, here everything is immaculate. Bonus, an astounding 97% of Italians have bidets in their homes for those who are into that sort of thing.
Okay, anyway the other reason we ended up at Palazzo Vecchio…
3) This beautiful angel fountain in the entryway sucked us right in, which of course didn’t help the aforementioned loo situation.
What I did love is that you don’t even need to go inside one of the many, many museums to enjoy the art. Incredible statues greet you everywhere as you’re walking around the city, and this is an example that I would love to see more cities following across the world.
I understand that not all art can survive outdoors, but the kind that can should be available to the public, without an admission ticket.
The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting for…Butts
If you’ve made it this far, nice work! Don’t be bashful—if you just wanted to read another “Florence is beautiful” post, you certainly wouldn’t have clicked on this one.
So, butts. I’ll never apologize for the observations I make, because hey, I’m a writer. If a writer saw the world in a remotely sane way, any reader would be bored out of their mind. Right, right?
Somewhere in the Palazzo Vecchio, I came to this startling conclusion about the art in Florence…a fascination with butts.
Horse butts, angel butts, god butts, child butts, man butts, but…no lady butts, just tatas. Fun game: see how many butts you can spot in the above picture!
I turned to Mr. H, my forehead wrinkled as I stared at yet another floor to ceiling painting with this common theme. Even as a grown ass woman, I still don’t understand how to use an inside voice, so my observation echoed throughout the museum:
“Hey, did you notice there are a lot of butts in here?!” (The “butts in here” part was the echo, I swear it.)
I threw my hand over my mouth right after it escaped. Whoopsie.
Distasteful loud-mouthed American woman, some might say. Luckily, my man continues to love me for better or worse after 11 years of marriage.
So, Mr. H laughed and nodded. “Yeah, babe. There are a lot of butts.”
See? Actually here, read this article called A Brief History of Butts in Art, so I appear smarter than I actually am.
Florence Brought Out our Ass Side as Well
Because I just went from the no-frills toilet discussion to my compelling observation about Renaissance era butts, I’m going to take the ass idea a little further and say that we acted like complete asses while we were in Florence too.
Not really sure what got into us. Butt inspiration was everywhere, so when in Florence…
All butt jokes aside, the time we spent in Florence was truly awesome, and I have nothing but nice things to say about the city and the people there.
The two nights we came stumbling back from the train station to our apartment after long days exploring, we always felt at home. It’s a rare place that can make a weary traveler feel that way in only a few days.
Maybe that’s a hidden part of Florence’s charm, beyond the obvious. Maybe that’s what really makes everyone say it’s beautiful.
Missed the Rome blog last week? You can read it here if you’re still in the Italian mood. Onward to Cinque Terre next time!