"City of the Renaissance" Florence by lamentforicarus
Florence Travel Guide: 5,286 reviews and 12,068 photos
Coming from the sleepy coastal villages of the Cinque Terre, my first encounter with Florence was nearly overwhelming. From the Santa Maria Novella train station, eager taxi drivers competed for patrons, pushing and yelling and grabbing bags while blurting out instructions to confounded arrivals. Once away from the station, we pushed through the busy streets, choked with pedestrians and emissions from countless vespas. Passing the city's grand and gothic cathedral, the Santa Maria del Fiori, I could see the rivers of human traffic culminating into a sea of tired tourists lounging on marble steps and sharp businessmen weaving through the fray. Speeding away from the square, the frenetic masses of people and cars dissipated, giving way to quite back roads and quiescent courtyards. After checking into the hotel and dropping our backpacks, our exploration of Florence began. Its wealth of interesting markets, museums, churches, and chapels opened my eyes to the grandeur and spender of this city, not just as the birthplace of the Renaissance, but as a flourishing and vibrant cultural gem.
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