VISITING FLORENCE PART I

Upon our arrival in Florence we entered the apartment we rented from Airbnb and were amazed. Not only the apartment was conveniently situated in the Sloane Street of Florence but the inside was heavenly- recently refurbished, white sofas, plasma tv, tall ceilings- I am in love.

Eager to explore Florence we dropped off our bags and went outside in search of a bar. We found Fashion Foodballers, an insanely decorated bar with table footballs as tables and footballers shirts hanging from the walls! We sat outside and ordered our first spritz in Florence, accompanied by a selection of cured hams and cheese. It was absolutely delicious and sure filled the empty void in our stomachs.

We ventured back towards Via dei Tornabuoni to have a look at the shops and passed by Salvatore Ferragamo, whose shop contains a museum. It is a very informative museum which explains the connection between art and fashion, and to what extend does the former influence the latter. "The exhibition, Across Art and Fashion, analyses the forms of dialogue between these two worlds: reciprocal inspirations, overlaps and collaborations, from the experiences of the Pre-Raphaelites to those of Futurism, and from Surrealism to Radical Fashion." My favorite part was seeing what art particularly inspired certain high-end designers, for example in the photo below, Yves Saint Laurent, Cocktail dress in 1965 was inspired by a book he received from his mother. He created a collection of dresses in which the Mondrian's style was adapted to women's curves without affecting the geometry of the models. 

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The museum was so inspiring, if you visit Florence and have some extra time I absolutely recommend you going! (tickets are 8 euros standard, 4 euros reduced). Taking time in the museum meant that dinner time came very quick, so we booked a place in "Trattoria l'Brindellone", a very traditional restaurant recommended by many. We ordered a florentine stake and Chianti red wine which, in a matter of minutes was already on the table. Yes, they cook the florentine stake for about 3-4 minutes, and it comes practically raw... But don't be put off, the taste is so tender and delicious and the meat just melts in your mouth there is no need for it to be cooked longer. I guess that's how they do it here!

23 July

Having fallen in love with this city waking up early wasn't a problem for me. Up at 9.00 and straight out for breakfast in piazza della republic in a very traditional looking bar called Café Paszkowski. I was treated to a beautiful cappuccino, freshly squeezed orange juice and an apple croissant to fuel my long day of exploring.

Our first aim was to go and visit the Basilica Di Santa Maria Novella opposite the main station. It is a spectacular piece of architecture. The completion of the church itself was in 1360, but unfortunately there was not enough financial aid to complete the façade, which ended up being built in 1456. 

Unfortunately just as we were walking towards the Dome, the weather decided to take a turn for the worst and start pouring down with rain. We took refuge in a bar in the piazza del duomo which made us a beautiful cappuccino.

But the rain didn't stop, so we changed our plans and decided to go to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. This museum was inaugurated in May 1891 to display artefacts that for varied reasons had been removed from the church, from the campanile and from the battistero. This museum contains numerous sculptures, paintings ecc. 

Following this we made our way to the Mercato Centrale, walking through San Lorenzo and admiring the Basilica di San Lorenzo. The Mercato Centrale is a gigantic, two story food market with stands selling fresh fish, meat, spices, fruits, vegetables and pasta. It also has many pop up restaurants where you can grab something to eat for a reasonable price. 

After lunch it stopped raining luckily, so we walked back to Piazza del Duomo and decided to visit the Battistero di San Giovanni, as the queues for the other monuments were never ending. The Baptistry is the oldest building in the Square, and it is believed to have been used as a pagan temple before being converted to Christian use. This octagonal shaped building is embellished with marble externally, similarly to the rest of the buildings in the square. Internally the Baptistry contains monolithic columns, oriental motifs on the floor and incredible golden mosaic on the roof which reflects the bizantine art of central Italy. 

Following from the square there is a famous high street called Via dei Calzaiuoli, which connects Piazza del Duomo to the famous Piazza della Signoria. This square is famous for containing the Palazzo Vecchio, a home to the former florentine government, now become museum. 

This square also has the Gucci Museum, opened in 2011 for its 90th Anniversary, and it is a museum dedicated to explaining and exploring aspects of Guccio Gucci's life and what inspired him to create such incredible pieces. His life was a journey and many aspects of his life influenced his designs so like the Ferragamo museum, if you have an interest in Fashion this museum is a definite must. 

Palazzo Strozzi is home to many art and photography exhibitions. This comes from a cooperative venture involving the Palazzo Strozzi foundation and Solomon R. Guggenheim foundation in New York. It is an opportunity to view works from the masters of modern art such as Pablo Picasso and Max Ernst, and large paintings and sculptures by Pollock, Mark Rothko ecc. This exhibition displays the art of the Guggenheim collections from Kandinsky to Pollock. We are given the opportunity to explore an era which marked not only art but also history of the twentieth century, comparing and contrasting movements that defined the concept of modern art, from Surrealism and Action painting to Art Informel and Pop art. 

After walking around for hours my boyfriend and I agreed that an Aperitivo was more than necessary, so we made our way to Piazza strozzi, where someone recommended a bar called Colle Bereto.

You pay 10 euros and you have a drink plus unlimited access to a fully replenished buffet. Of course we took the word “unlimited access” on board because we must have gone up to that buffet ¾ times that we were not in the mood for supper, but we already booked at Trattoria Giovanni. We ordered a platter of cold meats followed by Pappardelle with wild bore ragout to share between us. The meal was a treat and our day was definitely well spent.