A Tour through Florence, Italy
By Adan Rodriguez, student of Italian
The city of Florence in Italy, historically rich and filled with people from all over the world, finds a special place in my heart. I studied there for a semester in the spring of 2014 and I will call it a home from now on.
The city itself is situated at the heart of Tuscany, surrounded by the hills of Caregi, Fiesole, Settignano, Arcetri, Poggio Imperiale, Bellosguardo, and situated on both sides of the river Arno. It is ‘geometrically’ laid out, which makes it very walkable even though the city is quite large. At the heart of Florence there is the cathedral overlooking the city to the West. All streets connect with one another and once you find the cathedral you know where to go next. South of the Piazza del Duomo you find museums and restaurants everywhere, more so as you get close to the riverside where the Palazzo Vecchio and the Uffizi are located.
One of my favorite places is south of the river where Palazzo Pitti resides. I only took the bus once to reach a far-off museum which was L’Academia della Crusca the birthplace of the Italian language. The bridges down by the river Arno are all new except Ponte Vecchio, which translates as Old Bridge. This is because Hitler ordered those bridges to be destroyed to make Florence unreachable and to have only one way to get in. He chose Ponte Vecchio for this purpose because of its high artistic value.
The historical monuments of Florence are all Roman style. The buildings themselves are all pastel reddish colored. You do not see brightly colored houses in Florence. The colors range from dark gray to white and from yellow to red.
One of the museums is the Galleria dell’Academia where works from Michelangelo including the David are on display. Florence is “one of the best preserved Renaissance centers of art and architecture in the world,” according to Wikipedia and I bear witness to this claim. The Uffizi is another museum which holds Florentine and international art. It is right next to Palazzo Vecchio and at the end of it is the small road that leads to Ponte Vecchio, which is lined with artists and small artisan shops.
Other important structures that are also museums in and of themselves are the churches throughout Florence. The cathedral is called Santa Maria del Fiore and the baptistery, San Giovanni, is right in front of it, which was decorated by different artists. Another church in Florence is the Basillica Santa Maria Novella, which is in front of the station of the same name, which has work done by Filippino Lippi, Paolo Uccello, and many others. The Basillica di Santa Croce is a beautiful church, with frescoes on every wall. It is the burial place for Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Marconi, and many others.
Other than historic palaces and churches there are also amazing theatres, some converted into movie theaters, in Florence! One of the oldest movie theaters in the city is Cinema Odeon, built in the 1920’s right next to Palazzo Strozzi. They don’t play many movies, just select films since it’s a single-room theater, but the place is astonishing and a work of art in itself. It is still used as a theater for what it was meant for originally, but cinema is one of the favorite pastimes in Italy. Other theaters around Florence is Teatro Comunale where it was originally an open-air amphitheater, and the opera house Teatro della Pergola.
I have learned so much in this city and I cannot wait to return there. In addition to Florence, I also had the opportunity of visiting Pisa, Volterra, Roma and Siena. What can I say, other than that it was the experience of a lifetime and that I would strongly recommend it to anyone.