FLORENCE

I am really running out of adjectives to describe Italy. Florence was just a dream.

The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore was breathtaking – the size, the colours, the detail. I (slowly) hiked up both the dome and the belltower in the 37 degree heat but boy was it worth it. Amazing views of the city.

Other favourites of course were the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell Accademia, where I saw Michelangelo’s David. It took my breath away to see how big he really was. I managed to lurk behind a guided tour for a while and listen in on the background that I didn’t know – like the fact that there is a lot of controversy around why Michelangelo didn’t circumcise David, being Jewish and all…  And there is hundreds of years worth of debate about whether David is represented pre or post his battle with Goliath. People seem to argue his face can be seen both ways, either concentrated on preparing for battle or triumphant and calm having just won it.  You can also see the erosion on this left foot, from having weather and pidgeon poo inflicted on him daily for almost 300 years when he stood outside in the Palazzo della Signoria. I also didn’t realise Michelangelo started the work at just 26, and finished at 29. What a man.

I went to the leather markets, spent hours wandering through all the lanes and town plazas, and walked up to the Forte di Belvedere and the Piazzale Michelangelo, both which had stunning city views from across the river.

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