Corey Watts


I’ve spent the last five nights in Florence. I love Florence so much; it’s probably my favorite city in all of Europe. I came here back in 2009 on Europe Semester, and I couldn’t wait to come back. I wanted to spend some significant time here before I flew back home out of Rome. I knew I had 8 or 9 days left before leaving, so I planned to spend most of that in Florence and a little bit of time in Rome. Five nights in Florence and three nights in Rome sounded like a good plan. I arrived in Florence via the train from Triberg, and navigated my way to the hostel. I was staying in the Emerald Palace, which is literally right in the center of the leather market. If you’ve never been to Florence you probably don’t know about the outdoor leather market. Several blocks west of the Duomo, there is a sea of outdoor stalls selling all kinds of leather goods. Florence is really known for its leather, and here in the market you can find practically any leather good you like. I had a lot of fun walking around and looking at everything being sold. I even picked up a couple leather wallets to give to my brothers.

photo of the Duomo church in Florence
This photo doesn't do the Duomo justice. It's this ornate on every side.

The last time I was in Florence, I sampled every gelato shop I could find, trying to find the best gelato. I did in fact find the very best, which happens to be a small shop on the south side of the Vespucci bridge. The shop’s name is La Carraia, and while it is somewhat out of the main portion of the city, it is worth visiting. I visited this gelateria again on this trip in order to verify that it still had the best gelato. I can say, without a doubt, that it is the best gelato I’ve had in my entire life. I’ve had gelato in practically every city I’ve been in across Europe, but this is the best. If you’re ever in Florence, you need to stop by this place. As if it could get any better, their prices are quite low. It’s definitely the best deal in the entire city. You can check them out right here:

The day after arriving in Florence, I decided to check out the Uffizi. The Uffizi is an incredible museum just east of the Ponte Vecchio (that famous bridge with all the jewelry shops). Normally there is a long line to get in, so I went around 1pm to inquire about getting a ticket reservation for the next day. Lo and behold, when I arrived there was no line, so I decided to purchase a ticket and walk in right then. I love the Uffizi. Their most famous piece is probably Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, but they have quite a wide variety of sculptures and paintings from the last 2000 years. I saw one painting of the disciples on the road to Emmaus that gave me goosebumps – I love that story. Botticelli’s Birth of Venus is breathtaking; I spent some significant time standing there, trying to take it in. It’s truly a masterpiece.

photo of the Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florenc3
Nice bridge, eh?

Later that day, I decided to go suit shopping. If you’re looking for quality men’s clothes, there is no better place than Florence. There are so many clothing shops it would be impossible to see them all on one trip. Software Engineers never need to dress up (interviews are done in a polo shirt and jeans), so I had never owned a suit. I decided there was no better time to get a suit than while in Italy, so I began walking around the city, looking for suit shops. I found a beautiful navy-colored suit for the right price, so I came back the next day to purchase it. I’m hoping I can get it home in one piece.

After suit shopping, I walked over to the paper district. The paper district is a small section of the city with, obviously, lots of paper shops. This paper is handmade and quite nice, and all kinds of things are made with it. I purchased several handmade leather-bound notebooks and several Florentine paper picture frames as gifts for my family.

The day after suit shopping, I hiked up to Michaelangelo’s Plaza with a friend. The plaza is on top of a hill overlooking the city, where Michaelangelo’s David originally stood before it was moved closer to the city center. A copy of the David stands there now. It is a bit of a hike getting up there, but the view makes it worth it; all of Florence can be seen from the top. I got some awesome pictures, then we hiked back down to grab some food. Food is always a good decision when in Italy.

photo of Michaelangelo's Plaza in Florence
Probably the best view in the city

The next day, I took an early train to Rome. My trip is quickly coming to a close; Rome will be the last city I visit. I fly out of Rome’s airport in several days to head home!

#florence #italy #traveling #europe2013