Florence, called Firenze in Italian, is home of the Renaissance and basically the birthplace of today's modern world.
We started out visiting the Duomo, Florence's Gothic cathedral. It boasts the third-longest nave in Christendom.
However, its real claim to fame is Brunelleschi's dome, the first dome of the Renaissance and the model for hundreds of domes to follow.
The fun part is climbing up inside this massive structure, all 463 narrow concrete steps. Thankfully, Billy insisted I take lots of rest breaks, or I really don't believe I would've made it. However, once you get to the top, wow! It offers a stunning view of Florence.
You can also see inside the beautiful cathedral from the dome as well as marvel at The Last Judgement by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari painted inside the dome itself.
Next to the Duomo is the Campanile or Giotto's Tower. The 270-foot bell tower only has a mere 414 steps, (hint the sarcasm), but again, the views are fantastic. (And get this.... the only way down both attractions is the exact same set of narrow stairs you took to go up, which makes for hot, grouchy fellow tourist meet-and-greets when you encounter someone going the opposite direction, which happens about every other step.)
After all of that walking, we stopped for lunch. We weren't too impressed with the food, maybe we just picked bad spots, but most everything we had for our meals was bland. However, we did enjoy snapping a picture outside of a chocolate store with a chocolate fountain (would love to dive into that).
And Billy took this picture of "typical" fast-food for Italy, still beats American fast-food any day!
In the afternoon, we ventured to the Uffizi Gallery, the greatest collection of Italian paintings anywhere. The museum features works by Giotto, Leonardo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, and Michelangelo. The most famous work here is Botticelli's Birth of Venus.
Finally, we wrapped up our day at the Accademia. This houses Michelangelo's "David". It is amazing to actually see this 14-foot statue in person, a work you've seen in countless books your entire life! Did you know Michelangelo was only 26-years-old when he was commissioned to carve this sculpture? Since seeing "David" and Michelangelo's other works, including "Prisoners", I've become a new fan of his. His work is not only beautiful, but deeply inspired by his faith in God.
Florence was great, but we're already planning our next trip, Rome! Until next time, ciao!