Italy Part III - Florence

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Last July, I traveled to Italy and took a sole day trip from Mantova to Florence. You can see Part I of my trip here and Part II here.  I studied the History of Florence and its art and architecture in college and wanted to see it for myself.  

After a 2 hour train ride through the vibrant sunflower fields and lush vineyards of the Tuscan countryside, I arrived at a bustling train station.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. I had pictured something a bit more quaint, the same feel I experienced in Venice and Mantova, but this was far from it.  The insane amount of people was overwhelming to me and the temps were soaring into the 90s…a lot hotter than up north.  With my camera, a couple bottles of water and a city map I purchased upon arrival at the train station, I began my exploration of Florence!  

My goal of the adventure was to get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful city.  The streets were so congested and busy with foot and moped traffic, I knew the only way I could get some good shots of Firenze would be from above. I spotted a hill and journeyed towards it.  A few very charming yet aggressive dinner invitations later, I had made my way to a road leading to “my hill”.  

Later I would find out that the overlook is a square called the Piazzale Michelangiolo. Whatever the name, the view was by far the highlight of my trip.  I stayed up there for almost an hour.  The beauty of the city from this bird’ eye view was so romantic, I wanted to live up there.  Also, my tired lungs needed a break from the hour long hike up the hill. I was so happy I had stopped to buy an extra bottle of water.

Knowing that I had to make the train by sundown, I began the journey back down the hill, into the mayhem of Florence.  I stopped at a cafe for a cold salad and more water to cool me off from the sweltering heat.  As I arrived back at the train station, I knew that this would not be the last time I would stand beside the tracks at the Stazione Santa Maria Novella. I knew that I had to make a return trip in the not so distant future.  Anyone want to join me?  

Side note: The Duomo is so humongous it looks like a backdrop from a Sci-Fi movie!  You can see it from almost anywhere in the city. I kept waiting for a spaceship to blow it up!  I guess I’ve seen one too many action movies :)


Italy Part II - Venice

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Venice is a dream… Before visiting this magical island, people told us about the smelly water and dirty crowded streets but we found it exactly the opposite. The warm air smelled like fresh sea water, the streets were clean, and the light was golden. Once you escaped the crowded thoroughfares around St Mark’s Square, it was as though you were alone on a Renaissance island.  Most of the alleyways and streets were empty on the warm July day when we visited.  It was amazing!  Imagine the sound of birds chirping, flowing water and a warm breeze flowing through your hair…that is Venice.  Oh and the food wasn’t too shabby either!

Photography:  Julie Livingston Photography