Updated: May 22, 2020
The second stop of my Italy trip was Florence. I decided to use a website I'd used previously called "Show Around" to hire a guide who could tell me a little about the city. However I didn't want a guide to take me to all the usual sights which I could explore and discover easily myself. I instead asked my guide to show me some good nightlife spots and to also tell me about the local culture.
My guide Alexandra met me on my first evening and took me to some nice bars and told me a fair amount about the city.
We got on so well that I made a new friend, and we met up again the following day.
Venice itself was a truly beautiful city, basking in culture. I think I can say the same about each city I visited in Italy, however all of them were very different and it's hard to compare them with each other. They each had a certain uniqueness about them.
Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
This huge cathedral is the most popular sight in Florence. It's size and architecture is truly breathtaking.
This place was swarming with tourists, in fact the only time I saw it free of them was very late at night. But as much as the building was still very beautiful lit up in the darkness, I feel that the colours really show themselves during daylight hours.
There are tickets available for the Cathedral itself, the Dome, Bell Tower, Baptistery of St. John and the museum. It's possible to buy a ticket that covers all of these, which I would highly recommend.
My favourite part of the cathedral was exploring the Dome. The fresco painting on the interior of the dome is simply stunning, and should not be missed.
It's quite a climb up several steps, and is a lot higher than I thought. I have to admit to feeling a little dizzy when I reached the top and looked down. There was actually a guy too scared to carry on at the top, so he turned back.
So if you're scared of heights, maybe it's not such a good part of the cathedral to visit.
The oldest and most famous bridge in Florence. It's quite spectacular from afar, but also fun to cross. Usually filled with tourists, as you cross you wouldn't even realise it's a bridge due to the buildings surrounding you. There are many shops here, most selling expensive jewellery. But you'll also get some beautiful views of the Arno river which flows beneath you.
David by Michelangelo
There are various places to see statues of "David", such as at "Piazzale Michelangelo" and
"Piazza della Signoria". But the genuine statue of David is located inside the "Galleria dell'Accademia".
I decided to risk it and queue first thing in the morning, but it was packed. I had to wait a few hours before finally getting into the museum. My advice is, buy a queue jump ticket!
The statue of David is pretty impressive, and of course has hundreds of tourists swarming around it. I certainly recommend it over the replicas around the city.
I didn't think there was much else in this gallery to keep me entertained, so after a quick look through the other exhibitions, I left to fit in some other sights.
I much preferred this gallery to "Galleria dell'Accademia". Simply put, this gallery is huge, and felt like it had a lot more life to it. I explored it as best I could, but I didn't get the chance to see everything in detail. It was just too big.
There was of course the usual problem with too many tourists, so I suggest visiting at an off peak time.
Walking through the grand hallways surrounded by mythological sculptures, you'll also find such masterpieces as "Botticelli's - The Birth of Venus" and "Caravaggio's Medusa".
Piazza della Signoria
One of the most popular squares in Florence. You'll find the Palazzo Vecchio (town hall), the Fountain of Neptune and many statues of famous mythological heroes such as Perseus and and Hercules. It's here you'll also find one of the replica statues of Michelangelo's David, but don't msitake it for the real one which is found inside Galleria dell'Accademia.
I didn't get the chance to visit this square, but this is apparently the best place to go for incredible views of the city. It's not easy getting a good photo of the cathedral so close up, but I'm sure this would be a great spot to get it all into one shot. I believe it can get crowded here, especially during sunset, but it's said to be very romantic as the sun goes down.