It is that time of the year. Grape harvest season means #Toscanaforthehappyfew. Two weeks of the slow, artful, almost timeless happiness in the Tuscan countryside. But first we Florence in style.
When Stendhal visited Florence for the first time, he experienced a one-time feeling: a mixture of amazement, and beatitude and exhilaration that proved literally overwhelming. He was dizzy and confused and sick with emotion, while phisically incapable of leaving the city. I felt it too, my first time in Firenze: the allure, the wonder, the perfect beauty and the unconceivable happiness of just being there. You know that special tension you feel when you’re desperately in love, a perpetuum of excitement, the so-desired weight of longing, the never-let-me-go craze and that fear of it all ending at some point? I felt something like this for Firenze. I still do. They call it the Stendhal syndrome.
For me it is the most beautiful city in the world. This adds a tiny drop of finality to the discovery of new places, cause I know no place created by man will quite equal this. But, luckily enough, I preserve my sense of wonder intact, and the realm of adventures is infinite.
If it’s your first time, take several days, maybe a week. If you’re touring Tuscany, take at least three days for Florence, and never downplay it. This is one of the few places where I urge you to splurge: stay in the historical center, pick a palazzo for a hotel, dine with a view, go shopping, linger through the art galleries and forget the backpack and polar for a day. I stayed at the Tornabuoni Beacci several times, for the wonderful epoque interiors, the rooftop terrace and the view. It’s on Via Tornabuoni, Firenze’s luxury shopping street, and Tiffany is next door, so you can instagram breakfast at Tiffany’s – for real 🙂
Apart from the 9 absolute musts that will take one or two days to discover, take your time to slow-visit and slow food. Instead of queuing for hours at the Accademia or checking out the flea markets, check the art exhibitions at the Palazzo Strozzi or enter the Palazzo Vecchio to see the wonderful Hall of Maps. Visit the Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella, read a book or linger at the caffetteria in the Biblioteca delle Oblate, go to the Mercato Centrale. See the sunset on the Santa Trinita Bridge, because Ponte Vecchio is over-packed for the show. No matter how mesmerized you are by the Piazza della Signoria, don’t ever presume it’s a good place for dinner. Hang a bit in the Loggia for a street concert and then head for a reastaurant towards Piazza Trinita or the Santa Croce district.