If you visit Florence for the first time, you’ll probably want to go for the must-sees: the dome, the Uffizi etc.. The city’s skyline is breathtaking yet so well-known that it is hard to get your own original pictures. Since I don’t have a reflex camera that would allow me to take amazing pictures on the spot, I decided to go for the alternative locations that also happen to offer a lot on their own.
The touristic spot #1: directly at the Piazza del Duomo (= epic fail except if you’re an early riser cf. my first report). You can also queue and go up the hundreds of steps that lead to the top of the dome – yep, no lift and if you consider that before that you will have queued for a couple of hours under the scorching sun, it’s really worth having some second thoughts about where you want to spend your time effectively, hence the alternative spots that will come at the end of this article.
The touristic spot #2: Piazzale Michelangelo. Ok, I admit I might be a bit biased about this one, blame the not so good kebab I had there+ crappy sunset because we arrived too late+ the hords of tourists, as many as the mosquitos+ streets hawkers (the same as at The Trocadéro vending the local small replicas). I say I’m a bit biased because I know had I been there early in the morning (no tourists, no hawkers, sunrise), I would have enjoyed it a lot plus there’s no stairs to climb up, there’s a bus that will drop you there directly!
The alternative spot #1: Boboli gardens. Yes, there are also some tourists there but the gardens are beautiful and huge so you can still manage to get lost or find a secret cove. It reminded me a bit of Sceaux but kept its own Italian identity. Entrance is 9euros and half price if you’re a EU resident under 25. WIN!
The alternative spot #2: Oblate library. My personal favourite because I got to spend some time there to get some work done (remember this summer dissertation…). Anyway, here I was able to live my Florentine dream of arts, knowledge and culture as I experienced the student life here in Florence. In June, the Italians have their exams (actually it seems to me that they always have exams throughout the year..) so the library which is situated a stone’s throw from the Piazza del Duomo was packed with people reading Boccacio’s Decameron and all that kind of stuff that are sooo artsy and literate. WIN!