As a disclaimer: These photos were taken during a visit in January 2016, so this post may not be representative of this site today.
I recently watched Medici: Masters of Florence at the behest of my mother, and it reminded me of why I’d been obsessed with Renaissance Florence while I was in college. It even drove me to start playing Assassin’s Creed II again, just to be able to explore its winding streets and climb its buildings. And then I remembered I never posted about my trip to the Tuscan capital on here. This visit took place a while ago — 4 and a half years ago, to be exact — and it was actually the first time that I traveled anywhere by myself.
I traveled there on my own because I knew nobody who wanted to go as badly as I did at that moment, and I decided that I no longer wanted to wait until I could see this city — which I’d been obsessing over since my college days — in person. So I went, half-terrified, half-disbelieving that it was actually, finally, happening, and fell wildly in love, so much so that I remember I cried as I packed up my things in the hotel, ready to spend one last day in Pisa, not yet ready to give up Florence.
Originally a Roman city, Florence (in Italian, Firenze) eventually became a Medieval commune (something akin to a city-state), and was later known as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, being linked to artists such as Brunelleschi, Donatello, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Verrocchio, Bronzino, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, and Giambologna (to name a few). Its banks funded enterprise and industry all over Europe, including the Hundred Years War, and its native dialect was later used as a basis to standardize the Italian language, spread far and wide by the works of Tuscan authors such as Petrarch, Dante, and Bocaccio.
The city is brimming with history and with art, and is home to numerous museums, art galleries, churches, and city palaces. It is also the origin site of Stendhal Syndrome, sometimes also known as Florence Syndrome, which is defined as a psychosomatic condition involving rapid heartbeat, fainting, confusion, and hallucinations after being exposed to artworks and objects of great beauty.
Florence was… everything I wanted from it, and better yet, real. I know I’ve used these exact words before to describe other places, but over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s one of the greatest gifts a location — especially one so coveted and visited, as Florence undoubtedly is — can give you. To be as beautiful, as charming, as you’ve hoped that it is, so that in itself it becomes a confirmation that travel dreams do come true. Cheesy, I know — but if you’ve felt what I’m describing then you know it’s as enchanting as I’m making it sound.
I had hoped to return to Florence sometime soon, but the situation our world is currently facing leads me to think it may be some time yet before I gaze upon Ponte Vecchio again… Well, there’s always Assassin’s Creed 🙂