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Florence on 5 Senses

By Mariana Calleja from TravelThirst

Florence made us happy. Yes. Florence made us go creative, free and overwhelmed about everything in life.

First things first, as obvious as it may seem: Il David…brought tears out from my eyes.

This majestic piece of stone carved into the most impressive and touching figure, making you feel not small but human, simply out if this head of ours. Making us feel overwhelmed about the fact of what we are, of what we have the potential to be. Of what we never think of ourselves many times. Il David is really perfect, not in body, not in figure but in every thing possible that it can really mean and transmit to our human race.

Yes I felt overwhelmed and I just felt like crying sweetly and tenderly. He was beautiful. What it made me feel was beautiful.

This was only one of many aspects about Florence that are making me miss it already in a different way. We have travelled a lot around Europe during our three years living here. We have certainly seen incredible places, art, landscapes, food, people, museums, history. But I have never seen and felt what this city made me, all at once. Why? No idea. Maybe along these words I will figure the answer out when I get to the end.

So let’s get started, shall we?

Florence is a city built up from history, from the very basis to the top. And yet, there is a lot more than just what we see of course. No audio guide or book is enough in order to sense this place. So as we usually love to try and do is simply following our senses and discover any place on this simple life basis. So keep on reading and find out some sensorial experiences. You might get creative too and wanting to take the next flight to Florence.

SEE

Even within the obvious, we must mention a few of our favorite spots to see in Florence.

Sunset from the Piazza Michelangeliolo. On top of everything, the city discovers itself from here. All corners, roof tops and bell towers will sing at once a happy melody.

Florence at night has one very particular set of lights. No idea who did this and why but I haven’t seen a city with such sense of illumination, not to mention wire-free and with such a clean visual panorama. But nights are special believe us. You need to get out of your hotel room at night too and go get lost while looking up and ahead. You will enjoy another Florence if indulging yourself with this little great tip.

Instead of climbing the cupola, why not see the cupola itself? We always enjoy views from the top of anything. Is a must-do in every city to go up high and take a distant look. This time, we chose to climb the Giotto Bell Tower. And an imposing cupola appeared in front of our eyes. So huge and so small at the same time. This can really be a good thing to appreciate. Probably next time we will climb the cupola instead and enjoy the bell tower, but Santa Maria del Fiore’s church deserved a good look on this first trip.

One interesting spot we found was a former jail…turned today into beautiful and practical apartment buildings! Hard to imagine but seemed beautiful from the outside. You could still see the old iron doors and scarves on its walls and yet, it was a happy and flowered sight. Not to be missed either!

TASTE

Traditional dishes of course, such as Ribollita soup or Milanesa meat. But our most diverse experience went somewhere in between: Ribollita’s soup PIZZA! It was exactly like smelling veggie soup coming out from a perfectly fresh and recently baked pizza. Confusing but totally worth it!

During a market night, right in front of Santa Maria Novella, we found a whole bunch of interesting things to try. Very different from the traditional italian food we use to know. Anything you can get there will be good for sure. We had a delicious fried ball like the size of a baseball, with a filling made up of meat and rice, served very hot and with a crunchy crust. One really good bite! Name? The one and only: Frittele.

Gnocchi is always a good catch for us. One of our favorite dishes in the world and is a must for us to go gnocchi-tasting every time. And Florence certainly had one good variety. Feel free to try it anywhere and anytime. Best rule for me in order to try a favorite dish is always keeping it simple: basic tomato sauce will never fail in letting me recognize a good or a bad pasta.

And of course, don’t ever forget to start your day with a cafe and a cornetto: the traditional italian breakfast. Let me explain how does a cornetto feels inside your mouth: Imagine the most delicious, soft and creamy pastry with sweet and tender sugar powder on top, dropping a naughty bit as you make a glorious bite into your palate. It will never get happier than this!

SMELL

The whole town welcomed us over an interesting smell, like any city has done before into our nostrils. Except this time was special, strong and formidable.

It was something like smoked lemon…something between citric and wooden smoke from a chimney. It had a beautiful sense of feeling old and cozy. And this is what Florence felt like for us. Like home.

Interestingly, we also found something special around Florence in order to stimulate this sense of smell: an aroma bar! As funny as it could seem, is definitely a spot we haven’t found ever before. All about parfums, fancy smells of flowers, and spices, and nature. Quite stimulating! And relaxing to our surprise.

Have you ever been to a “bar-a-parfums”?

Another characteristic smell from Florence were “Lillies”. Beautiful violet-colored flowers hanging from old walls and balconies all over town, being caressed by the wind all day long. Probably best sensed during spring time. But what a sweet aroma giving a friendly scent to the entire place. Not to mention how beautiful these flowers look, hanging in a relaxing way every time.

LISTEN

Without any doubt, this place has the most outstanding set of bell towers in all Europe. One of the things catching our attention right away was the constant music of bells ringing all at once and to different melodies every time. For some reason hard to explain, it was very comforting to listen to this. Again, it was something cozy and welcoming about bells ringing.

For example, make sure you get caught in the Brunelleschi cloister during noon. Probably one of the most relaxing 30 minutes we have had during our travels, just by sitting there, taking the bells and the sun at a peaceful and quiet green garden. No tourists along at all. You want to spend a few minutes here and enjoy the experience since it will last in your memory for long.

One more great tip on our experience would be climbing up to Gioto Bell Tower, not only for the views. This time to listen to the city instead. After an arduous way up, you will find a very comforting corner on top, giving you incredible views to the city for sure.

But best than the views, this is a place to visit with your ears more than with your eyes. A place where you should stand relaxingly on the boarder, pose your head and chin over your hands crossed, stand in a semi-flexed position and then proceed to close your eyes while addressing your whole face to the city…to the air.

Stay there, eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths and exhale through your nose, slowly. Focus…and listen around you. Listen to Florence. Listen to the street, the laughter, the working city and the touristy city. Listen to the machines, the cleaning, the bells far back, the few cars passing by. You are 80 meters up high and still, you get to sense the whole city from there. Is relaxing, is beautiful. Hold on a few minutes until you can describe every single sound in your head. Then you can open your eyes and smile. There are a few stairs waiting for you to take you down to all those sounds.

FEEL

The sense of feeling and touch is always the toughest one to describe and yet the richest, funniest and most tender one. Because is abstract, going beyond the obvious, beyond just the wind on your face or the coldness of stone walls.

What about the sense of feel or touch in Florence?

The Galleria degli Uffizzi has a “touch tour” intended for blind people but one you can definitely try it yourself, why not? We don’t need to be blind in order to play with our hands and sense a whole new world through them, right?

And with this practical information, we wish you have a very sensorial experience next time you are in Florence. A perfect city for exploring your own the five senses!

By Mariana Calleja from TravelThirst. Photography by Federico Rojas

We’ll be there. If you want to come too, check out our flights here.