What can be said about Florence that hasn’t been already imbibed by hundreds of others over the centuries? There is simply no other city like it. There are great cities, wonderful cities, fucking stellar cities all over the world, and Florence will always rank in the top echelons for me. What is it? The food, the architecture, the history, the narrow streets, the strong cafe culture… the list goes on and on. I think in essence, Florence is a feeling. Having recently arrived from Portugal, I was feeling quite fond of Lisbon. The seaside city had all of the things I’ve just mentioned. A rich history, quant cafes, the European feel without the overdone trite Disney-fied vibes. I have an inkling that I could live in Lisbon, and that I will enjoy visiting Lisboa for many years to come. I had not been back to Tuscany since 2016. I remember being enthralled with my time here. but there was only so much time and so many other destinations…and then there was covid and by that time I had discovered South America and began a torrid affair with the Latin world. This run over the pond I ended up here almost by accident.
Stepping off the plane, the airport is provincial and a bit shabby. My taxi was a Prius piloted by an intense elderly woman with a heavy foot and an even heavier brake. She apologized profusely as the rate for Sunday fares from the airport are an additional 2 euro. I consoled her the best I could. I knew there were great things ahead
I would never dream of coming here in peak season. This city is a rather severe experience. Not to be trifled with. Some of these crazed “ tour groups” hit this city like an army of marauding bandits armed with phones/cameras, twisted yelp reviews and “best of guides” to plunder the landscape over only a few hours. Post pillage moving back into their foul caravans en route to yet another destination, molesting an entire country in only a few days. Flying home with stuffed storage, crooked selfies, and plastic souvenirs…liked crazed perverts ready for their next act of debauchery marked as “vacation” to repeat the process a few years later. Just watching them makes me shudder and my lower digestive organs pang with unease.
This city is like a long lost favorite lover. Preparation is key, patience an absolute necessity. January proves near perfect, the chill in the air drives one to the cafes, cappuccino or Chianti powered afternoons provide the serendipity for wandering the narrow streets and stopping in the small shops, taking in the history and feeling this place that has truly captivated so many before us, and will continue to do long after we are gone. Can you “do” Florence in a few days? Fuck no. Don’t try.
Visit. Relax. Go slow. Savor the moments. Enjoy the flavors. Revel in the art and the history…And promise yourself you will come back.