As soon as we arrive in Florence, the city attracts us in a vortex of Medieval and, above all, Reinassance beauty. Cradle of culture, not only of Italy, but of the whole humankind, Florence proudly shows us its splendour. I take Audrey’s hand and we get lost in the streets of the city centre, with our noses in the air and the Love me in Tuscany guidebook under my arm. The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore amazes us with its majesty (it is the third biggest one in Europe, we read) and with its elegant marble façade that, we learn, is typically Florentine. The Baptistery in front of it looks almost like its son, enxtending its beauty.
We climb the 463 steps of Brunelleschi’s Dome, accompanied by Giorgio Vasari’s frescos, and our breathe stops in front of the marvelous view of Florence from above. We look at each other in silence: we feel like we are in a postcard. Florence is already conquering us, and the thought of choosing Tuscany to seal our love forever begins to form slowly in our minds.
The towering Giotto’s Campanile, Piazza della Signoria with the famous fourteenth-century silhouette of Palazzo Vecchio, Loggia dei Lanzi with its statues, the Basilica di Santa Croce, queen of Gothic architecture, the refined Gallerie dell’Accademia, that host the Michelangelo’ David too… We eat a delicious focaccia while we walk, and the smell of fresh-baked bread follows us until we enter the Uffizi, which we booked in advance before arriving in Italy. Audrey leads me through the galleries searching for Botticelli’s Primavera, a painting she has always dreamed of seeing. The image of the girl in harmony with nature enchants us and we hold each other while we watch her, without talking.
“An eternal Spring, that’s how our marriage should be and also our life! Looking at us, we say this without talking. We’ll need an identical dress, the flowers must be the same.”
We get a passing man to take some pictures of us on the Ponte Vecchio.
“Do you like Florence?”, he asks in a broken English as he notices how enthusiastic we are from our red cheeks and bright eyes. “We love it!”, we answer in unison, and he laughs, satisfied and proud of his city.
“A bower of splendid colors, orange and the dark green of the leaves, these are the colored inspiration of Italian Craftsmanship, and of which we find confirmation in the beautiful windows of clothes shops of the centre of Florence. And then there are the ceramics, ironware, hand-worked leather, precious stones, alabaster, objects made of straw, female underwear, lace, shops with beautiful antique furniture…”
Audrey stops to admire the woven fabrics and the crafts, entranced, and we let the jewelry stores’ windows guiding us to Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens astound us. Elated with so much enchantment, we ask a passerby for advice and we go up to Piazzale Michelangelo as the sun goes down, to watch the sunset enveloping Florence with its warm light, that makes us fall in love with this magical city definitively.
The day after, our destination is Siena. I didn’t read much about the city, that I knew only for the Palio, the competition between contradas. Therefore, during breakfast, I take the guidebook and I read out loud to Audry that the art historian Bernard Berenson compared Siena to an intact skeleton of a complete animal, lying on three hills. Intrigued by the description, we decide to get lost amongst the Medieval streets, interwinded one above another.
“Poi ci siamo inoltrati nel mistero della città, fatto di strade strette, a forma di spirale o chiocciola. Si può fare il giro della città in uno spazio ristretto seguendo un numero infinito di itinerari.”
Siena seems to be invariable in time, as if centuries never passed for it.
“Love too, during Palio, is suspended, like everything in the city, but what is the Palio, if not a manifestation of great love for your land?”
Nothing is actually immobile in the colorful vitality of Siena. The city has its own pulsating soul, that we feel while we lie on the ground in the centre of Piazza del Campo, occupied by the famous Palio twice a year. The guidebook said to remain there to look at the sky while Siena’s life moves around us. The Palazzo Pubblico, history’s silent witness, observes us, and we climb the 88 meters of Torre del Mangia to enjoy the incredible view of the city underneath us and the hills enclosing it.
Audrey indicates the Duomo at me, which we immediately go and visit it, but the harmonious façade in black and white doesn’t prepare us for the floor’s decorations, the Piccolomini Library, Nicola Pisano’ Pulpit and the Piccolomini Chapel, that contains four statues by Michelangelo. The visit to the Baptistery, to which Donatello contributed too, and the Pinacoteca Nazionale, rich in masterpieces from 1400 and 1500, complete our tour of the city.
We arrive hungry at dinner, and we savor a ribollita and a steak, drinking some excellent Chianti. We let them convince us to try some perfumed olive oil, produced in the surrounding olive groves, and Tuscan tastes promise us we will never forget this land.
For a further taste of romantic Tuscany, Love me in Tuscany.
The complete guide to the perfect love trip is Love me in Tuscany.