" Florence is a city that revives hope "
– Andrej Tarkovsky
Florence is a dangerous place: it has everything a traveler could want. In this, it is as disconcerting, just as entering the British Library can be disconcerting for an avid reader.
It is impossible to get to know Florence in its entirety, unless you are planning on taking a sabbatical year (and perhaps, even that wouldn’t be enough).
The cradle of art, the mother of the Italian language, the home of the Opera…To enjoy Florence to the full, to understand it, one must experience it for what it is: an all-absorbing emotional experience requiring a nose dive into a new element, with the utmost joy and with one’s senses full alert. Only then, whether for a day, a week or a month, wherever you came from, you can consider yourself Florentine.
" I had reached that stage of excitement where one feels the heavenly sensations granted by the Arts and one’s most passionate feelings. As I emerged from the porch of Santa Croce, I was seized with a fierce palpitation of the hearth; the well-spring of life was dried up within me, and I walked I constant fear of falling to the ground "
– so Stendhal wrote in the passage that inaugurated the famous syndrome named after the author, also known as the "syndrome of Florence ": dizziness, before so much and such extraordinary magnificence. The Cathedral and its dome, the Baptistery of San Giovanni, Giotto’s bell tower, the Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, Michelangelo’s David, the Uffizzi Gallery, Palazzo Pitti, the Galleria dell’Accademia, Galleria Palatina, Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella, San Miniato, San Lorenzo, masterpieces by Donatello, Botticelli, Brunelleschi, Michelangelo
Florence is all this and much more!
On approaching the city, you could have the seductive and passionate pace of Lauretta’s aria "Oh, my dear papa", from the opera Gianni Schicchi by Puccini in your head. Let the soundtrack dictate the rhythm of your steps and glances. The plot was inspired by a passage from the Inferno, the first part of the Divine Comedy penned by Dante Alighieri, the Florentine poet, considered the father of the Italian language (Dante’s house lies in the heart of the old city, in Via Santa Margherita). Florence serves as the backdrop for Puccini’s opera, which makes many references to the city’s history, landscape and architecture, with precise geographical indications and a phrase book full of local expressions.
In the words of Andrea Bocelli, the "lampredotto", named for its resemblance to the lamprey eel, once very abundant in the waters of the River Arno, is a delicacy both "humble and tasty". Although not a dish for tourists, being somewhat of an acquired taste, it helps those who savor it to understand the popular and ancient local cuisine. The Florentine cuisine offers many specialties, from appetizer’s based on cold meats and crostini, to bread soup, the "Fiorentina" (a grilled T-bone steak served rare), baccala’ (dried cod) and a typical chocolate cake. Even today, many "lampredottai" sell the traditional lampredotto from their kiosks scattered around Florence, either as a "moist" sandwich, with the bread partially soaked in broth, or "in zimino", in other words stewed with chard.
" If I ever feel depressed, I go back to Florence and look at Brunelleschi’s Dome: if man can achieve such wonders, then I can and must try to create, do, live "
– Franco Zeffirelli