I’ve been to Florence many times, especially when my Florentine grandmother was alive. When I would visit Florence, I was not a tourist. I was staying with my grandmother. I did do some touring, but mainly I lived the life of a Florentine. Go early to the market to buy your groceries, come home set the table for lunch, always put down a table cloth, grate the parmesan cheese, cut the bread, make the salad – this was routine. With my grandmother gone, I realized I needed to find a new way to fall in love with Florence.
Back in those days, there were hardly any tourists. Some, but you walked the streets comfortably. Now, you walk elbow to elbow with tourists and foreign students. It is so packed you cannot enjoy the city unless you wake up at the crack of dawn BEFORE the tourists have started their day.
The Central Market used to have lovely leather purses, cashmere sweaters, silk scarves, belts and more. Now, the vendors, year after year, sell the same products and it’s hard to know what is real leather and what is not. The designs are not special anymore. It’s sad to see this. Gold is so expensive that the Ponte Vecchio does not sell unique jewelry anymore either. BUT for the first timers to Florence, where the leather goods, etc. are all new to them, they think it is fantastic!
It’s amusing to hear conversations among tourists, there is a competition to know Florence better than the next person, to have been to Florence more times than another person, to be the best Florentine blogger, know the best restaurant — you get the idea.
So, with my heart feeling a bit sad and nostalgic for the old days, I decided I needed to re-discover Florence in a different way. I was curious to explore the hills above the Piazzale Michelangelo.
I got lucky and as I was walking up a long road, I found “The Walking City” map. See the photo of the map. I want to see if they have other maps for walking the city like this. What a great adventure for people who have been to Florence many times, want to get away from the crowds and get some exercise. The views and the villas up there, as you can imagine, are fantastic.
If you make the walk all the way around, you’ll have this view of the Duomo from Piazzale Michelangelo! Stop and treat yourself to a gelato, you deserve it!
Yes, you can see Florence with “fresh eyes!”