Wednesday, April 11, 2012

We Want to Go with Oh to Florence!

For many, Florence embodies the essence of Italy. Heck, maybe even the whole continent of Europe. Legendary food, trend-setting fashion, rich history, superb art. Cities don't earn this kind of reputation for no reason. When we Go with Oh to Florence we'll climb to great heights and great depths, see paintings made of stone, and follow our stomachs through the streets. We can't wait. Won't you join us?

When we Go with Oh to FLORENCE we want to:

1. CLIMB TO GREAT HEIGHTS AND GREAT DEPTHS. No trip to Florence would be complete without visiting the Duomo - architect Brunelleschi's masterpiece and a triumph of the early Renaissance period. We will climb the 463 steps to see the Duomo's 3600 square meter fresco up close and personal (it's a race to the top!) and marvel at the rooftop view of the citta. Then we will head down to the church's crypt to see where Brunelleschi himself is buried and check out the ancient cathedral of Santa Reparata and its extensive mosaics, an important part of Florence's often neglected pre-Gothic history. (All of those stairs will make us feel less guilty about #5!)

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2. PLAY IN THE PIAZZAS. Every local and tourist knows, piazzas are the heart of the Italian city. Florence has seven main ones, and we'll visit each and every one, collecting stories and souvenirs along the way. We'll crane our necks to see the Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria, examine the golden doors at the Baptistery in Piazza del Duomo, take a spin on the carousel in Piazza della Repubblica, see where Michelangelo was buried at Piazza Santa Croce, admire Brunelleschi's Ospedale degli Innocenti in Piazza Santissima Annunziata, mingle with locals in Piazza Santo Spirito's low-key cafes, and hang out with David in Piazzale Michelangelo.

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3. TAKE A DAY TRIP TO FIESOLE. After a quick 8 km drive outside of Florence we'll find ourselves in Fiesole, a world away from the city's crowds. Fiesole is an ancient Etruscan city, and in the Middle Ages it was no less powerful than its Florentine neighbour. We want to see the Villa Medici at Fiesole - a famous gathering place of Renaissance artists and philosophers - the city's Roman amphitheatre and baths, and its ancient Etruscan walls.

At the top of the hill in Fiesole we'll snap a photo with our Oh Car in front of the panoramic view of Florence. And when we get back to the city we'll stop at the Dolce Vita bar (recommended by one of our favourite Canadian TV chefs!) for an apertivo, before heading out into the Piazza del Carmine market to grab some fresh ingredients for dinner at our Oh Florence apartment. We think this one is stunning, this one (near the Dolce Vita bar) might just be the coolest loft ever, and the crazy view from this one screams Firenze! 

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4. SEE PAINTINGS MADE OF STONE. Florence and the Medicis. A city and a family, two histories eternally entwined. You could (and many have) spend a lifetime researching and writing about the Medici's relationship with the city, and the political, historical, and artistic legacy of their rule. And what a way to spend your life - the characters, the mystery, the intrigue!

One of Florence's biggest attractions is the Uffizi, the city's infamous art museum which houses an incredible Renaissance collection started by the Medici family. When we Go with Oh to Florence we will of course tick the Uffizi off our list. But we also want to explore one lesser-known artistic legacy the Medicis, who in a very Renaissance fashion, revived the ancient Roman art form of pietra dura. These 'stone paintings' are in fact mosaics made of thin, highly polished stone veneers, cut and laid together to form intricate images. We will tour Florence's Opificio delle pietre dure (Workshop of Semi-precious Stones), established in 1588 by Ferdinando I de' Medici, which still functions as a museum and art restoration center today. 

can you believe this is made of stone? incredible! image via

5. FOLLOW OUR STOMACHS THROUGH THE STREETS. Inspired by blogger Sherry Ott's food tour in Rome, and this glowing (and funny!) recommendation, we'll take a food tour of the city with Taste Florence. 100 year old bakeries, fizzy prosecco, crispy crostini, cannelli beans and boiled Tuscan beef, truffle honey, fresh and cloudy olive oil (you haven't lived until you've tried it!), and authentic gelato. Need we say more?

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- Mike & Jess

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  1. I've never been to Florence and am dying to go! Your pictures and city list make me want to go ever more :)


    1. You definitely should! It's a lovely city. I went in August 2007 and it rained the whole time. Hoping for better weather this time around!

  2. I was just there this past November, it's so beyond amazing!


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