Posted by: Kristen Hicks | June 13, 2013

Visiting Florence with (Slightly) New Eyes

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One of the most amazing years of my life to date was the year I spent abroad in Italy in college.

I ran out of money quickly due to the minimal savings I had at that point in my life, and the weakness of the dollar to the euro. Thus, I was cognizant of missing out when spring break rolled around and friends ventured off to see new spots in Europe, and I stayed in Florence to get ahead in my studies.

One day, I decided I needed to get out of the house and went walking. I had no destination in mind, and purposefully took turns in directions I wasn’t familiar with. If I couldn’t venture to a new city entirely, why not find something new to see in the city I’d been living in?

After a while of walking, starting to wonder if I should try to make my way back DSC01292and with no idea where I was in the city, I stumbled upon Piazza Michelangelo right at sunset.

The view from Piazza Michelangeo at sunset is famed and highly recommended to visitors to Florence. Even so, I hadn’t yet made it there at that particular time of day. In my attempt to venture out into a new Florence experience, I’d happened upon an iconic, memorable one through pure serendipity.

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That moment came back to me vividly as I re-visited the city for the first time in 6 years. Once again (after recovering from a long flight), I set out to walk the city–with no clear destination in mind–and ended up re-visiting a number of the spots that were regular features in my former year here.

Piazza Santa Croce, the landmark most seared into my memory due to its location within a block of the school (also notable for its dual life: a popular tourist destination by day, a spot where local kids come to drink and smoke by night). Piazza della Signorina, the piazza neighboring the Uffizi Gallery and filled with memorable statues (Perseo’s my favorite). The lovely Arno, still a pleasure to walk along. And, lastly, Piazza Michelangelo. It’s a hike to reach when taking the more conventional, familiar route than I did that day so many years ago, but worth it to look in on a city full of memories and beauty.

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