Italy: Florence

Travel Journal of 2018

I cannot express how much I’ve been looking forward to creating this post, as well as more to come over the next week or two here on my blog. This summer I got to visit many new and thrilling places on a cruise, something that I have never gotten to experience on such a scale. I had never visited Italy before, and every day leading up to my visit to Florence I was dreaming of its culture and scenery. It is fair to say the city did not disappoint – beautiful, serene and powerful, the birthplace of the Renaissance was everything I had dreamt of and more, and I will definitely be visiting it again. Throughout my cruise, I kept a journal for all the places I visited with the purpose of then sharing my thoughts on all of the wonderful scenes here. So, here is my record of my favourite visit from this summer.

Waking up early that morning for the shore excursion, I delightedly threw back my bedroom curtains to behold the coast of Italy – mountainous and peaceful, the country already stood out as somewhere exciting to explore as I observed the rolling hills and forests in the distance. Our coach took us straight into Santa Croce Square, a huge bonus for me since it is a central setting in E.M. Forster’s ‘A Room with a View’ (1908), a much-loved book that I study at A Level. The famous church perfectly embodied the atmosphere of the city – elegant yet strong, modest yet powerful… the city seemed quietly aware of its beauty.

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The details of the architecture could forever be gazed at: I found it particularly incredible how human minds from centuries ago could produce such complex designs, with a thousand pretty details of gold and marble embellishing just a single section of the buildings. You could see why Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance, the rebirth of the arts and culture: everywhere you looked appeared something that embodied creativity and beauty.

Florence is famous for its 18 carat gold, as was clearly demonstrated by the lavish jewelry shops along the Ponte Vecchio (a famous bridge spanning the River Arno). Every shop window shimmered with gold, something which I enjoyed wistfully looking at, pretending to myself that I could afford the price written discreetly on the labels! I did however find something more up my street in the form of a bookmark in a popular leather store – Florence is definitely a place to go for original, rich products and lavish shops.

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I visited the Piazza Della Signoria and Baptistery of St. John whilst waiting for Santa Croce to open: the Piazza holds many very famous and precious sculptures dating from Ancient Rome to the Renaissance, and it seemed rather odd that these priceless creations were open to tourists to swarm around – not that I was complaining as I studied the stunning designs. The Baptistery equaled in its significance – its architecture consisted mostly of marble, creating a mesmorising effect as its exterior appeared like an intricate paper house, although there was no doubt about its power and prestige.

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After my first ever proper Italian pizza, I was finally able to enter Santa Croce. You were required to dress and behave respectfully within the church, and it was very clear why – surrounding you were the tombs of legends, innovators, leaders and geniuses, all held within an immensely grand and elaborate church. Michelangelo’s and Galileo’s tombs lay opposite to each other, and I was full of reverence as I passed between such deeply significant places of rest.

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The décor of the church consisted of a multitude of gold, red, emerald, sapphire and many other rich colours that graced your eyes. Across the courtyard from the church was a small museum containing Renaissance art – I was proud to have been able to name atleast one of the creations of one of the artists, Della Robbia, whose colourful terracotta statuary I was particularly fond of! To say the least, I was thoroughly pleased to have explored such a place, and I felt peaceful and enlightened when I finally moved back out into the bustling Square.

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Melancholy then fell upon me as I realised that my time in already my favourite city had come to an end – on the coach ride back I was flicking through all of the images I had captured of the place, wishing I was still surrounded by its grandeur. But, I knew that one day I could return for a longer period of time, and that for now, I still had my visit to Rome to look forward to!

Thank you for reading this first post of my travel journal from this summer – my next post will describe my day in the mighty Rome. I hope that if you enjoyed this description of Florence then you’ll also enjoy this upcoming post, as well as be inspired to visit one day the beautiful Italy!

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