[Clockwise from top] Duomo, Santa Maria Novella, another facet of Duomo
It’s been more than 1.5 years since we travelled to Florence (yes, I know this post is waaaaay overdue) but time has not stolen the memories I have of the city. In many ways, Florence is not unlike other European cities, woven into a tapestry of the old and new, the classic and the kitsch. But it is somewhat richer, more flavourful and vivid than others.
[Clockwise from top left] The Cart, Men and Women in the parade for Scoppio del Carro
We were there during Easter of 2011, and as with every poorly planned holiday we’ve had, we were greeted by the deafening surprise that is Scoppio del Carro, otherwise known as the Explosion of the Cart, an Easter Sunday tradition of Florence in which a cart chock full of fireworks is lit outside the Duomo. The Singaporean in me writhed when we heard the explosions and bells ringing as we stepped out of the hotel; I was kiasi (Hokkien for ‘afraid of death’) and kaypoh (meaning ‘nosey’) at the same time, a most clashing combination of traits that eventually leaned towards curiosity and led us to the source of the mayhem. Yes, there was the most elaborate cart I’ve ever seen, shooting flames at the cheering crowd in dangerously close proximity. Men and women dressed in the most colourful robes with plush feathers adorning their heads, arms yielding fake weapons and trumpets, were lined up in the most chaotic and loud parade I’ve ever come across. M and I almost lost each other in the crowd and it got a little scary when a stampede threatened to break but the festival was utterly brilliant!
Carvings (at Duomo), sculptures (Benvenuto Cellini’s Perseus with Head of Medusa can be found at Loggia dei Lanzi) and random alley in Florence
The city does offer quieter sights. We admired ornate carvings that so often adorned the magnificent buildings in Florence. The open-air gallery at Loggia dei Lanzi is an inspiring collection of sculptures, punctuated by the clusters of tourists lounging in the sun. We also wandered down many alleys, which in my opinion, were most beautiful when dusk fell.
Vintage trinkets at Mercato delle Pulci (located at Piazza dei Ciompi)
Florence is home to a number of flea markets as well, my favourite being Mercato delle Pulci, which carried trinkets that made me, a vintage junkie, hyperventilate.
We also ate like kings in the Italian city. Huge slabs of Florentine steak, silky gelato, the simplest yet most flavoursome pastas and fresh produce (more reviews to follow, so watch this space!) were not uncommon on our food itinerary.
There’s only one thing to do after visiting Florence. Visit again!