One should always try to dedicate more than one day to any of the world’s great cities, Florence included. With this premise, if you’ve got to do it, I will help you choose what to see so that you make the most out of your limited time.
We can catch the train in Rome and in 1h20 we will be there!
Starting from St. Maria Novella station we will walk up to the famous Duomo with Brunelleschi’s cupola, Giotto’s Bell Tower and the Baptistery. Nearby we will visit the Accademia with Michelangelo’s David (reservation in advance).
Strolling down via Roma we will find ourselves in Piazza della Signoria in front of Palazzo Vecchio, the city’s seat of government with an incredible outdoors statues setting. The David out there is a cop.
We will walk then to the end of the Uffizi buildings (no time to visit them) to the Arno and catch a view of the river and the Ponte Vecchio.
On the way back to the station, we will go to via Tornabuoni – the luxury shopping street – and hop into the church of Santa Trinita where you’ll be rewarded by a beautiful fresco by Ghirlandaio. Look carefully at the backgrounds of each scene as you should recognize some of these locations – we’ve seen them together!
It is possible to go to Florence from Rome by train (1hour 20 minutes) in order to spend a day there and come back in the late afternoon.
Once arrived at the train station, we will make our way through the unruly traffic, honking horns, locals shouting in thick dialect across alleys lined with wet laundry, shrines to the Madonna with blue neon and plastic flowers set into palazzo walls, churches decorated with carved skulls, women squeezed into their shirts and spike heels, helmetless teenagers on mopeds racing the wrong way down slippery one-way streets – It will be immediately clear that two ancient forces drive this unbelievable chaos of a city: life and death.
Everywhere the smell of coffee – our first stop will be in a Coffee bar to try it and the delicious pastries as sfogliatella, babà, pastiera.
Second stop the old part fo the city called SpaccaNapoli, from the Italian word spaccare to split, after the ancient street slicing down the middle of the old city first settled by the Greeks.
The greeks founded the city in 8th century b.c. and used the underground tufa-rock as building material. That’s the reason why you can visit the underground galleries network used as quarry by Greeks, as an acqueduct by Romans and as an escape way during the Second World War.
During our day trip this will be our third stop!
The old part of the citiy has incredible churches to visit as St. Chiara, San Domenico, The Jesuit Church but is, first of all, the shrine of two great wonders of Naples: Caravaggio’s Seven Acts of Mercy in the Pio Monte della Misericordia surely one of the strangest and most breathtaking paintings in all of art history, a weird chiaroscuro tableau that unites an old man suckling a woman’s breast, a disembodied pair of dirty feet, men in armor struggling in the semidarkness, and high above them a mother and child and two angels, Neapolitan boys really, who cling to each other midfall in a strange and tender embrace.
And the San Severo Chapel – Masonic-inspired baroque chapel that we’ll find Giuseppe Sanmartino’s incredible sculpture, Cristo velato (Veiled Christ), its marble veil so realistic that it’s tempting to try to lift it and view Christ underneath. This fourth stop will leave you breathless.
Our fifth stop the Cathedral of Naples (Duomo) with San Gennaro Chapel.
The treasure of San Gennaro is said to rival Britain’s Crown Jewels and those of the Russian tsars in value. It includes a bishop’s mitre encrusted in stones, and a large necklace composed of thousands of gems, donated by many crowned heads of Europe.
Our sixth stop the famous main square Piazza del Plebiscito with the Royal Palace and the great view over the bay and the volcano Vesuvio.
We will end on Castel dell’Ovo that is the oldest standing fortification in Naples.
Photo reference: Baku, Vikashegde via Wikimedia Commons and Nunzia Marlino