“Every beauty which is seen here by persons of perception resembles more than anything else that celestial source from which we all are come.”
– Michelangelo

Wandering the streets of Italian cities like Florence was a beautiful experience, even in the heat of August. I was fortunate to have mild weather when staying in Perugia, but it was much hotter everywhere else I traveled in Italy. Of course, it wasn’t nearly as hot as the first few days I spent in Rome.

Arno italy
Along the Arno

Florence was hot while wandering around, but it was easy to escape for a moment in the shade. On the first day on my way up to Piazzale Michelangelo I even stopped off for mojito gelato, which was the most refreshing treat I could’ve found that day.

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View from Piazzale Michelangelo

On that day’s walk I followed signs for hilltop park and took a few short detours down alleys that appeared interesting. There were even a few little boutique souvenir shops to browse and relax in a bit of air conditioning.

Ospedale degli Innocenti
Fountain outside Ospedale degli Innocenti

Aside from the major sites of Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, and Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David, I had no plan for my time in Florence. I figured I’d stumble over everything else I needed — the food, smaller art galleries, drinks, and architecture.

Arno Florence
View of Arno from Uffizi Gallery

Armed with nothing more than a paper map with a dot for my hotel and the sites to see, I wandered down streets and alleys. There were stops for espresso, snacks, and more gelato, though none as refreshing as the first.

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Summer crowds

I felt comfortable wandering through the streets of Florence — it was easy to escape the summer tourist crowds by ducking down side streets. Even outside Mercato Centrale with all the hawkers selling cheap souvenirs, I was able to avoid the feeling of being harassed. Inside the market was a wonder for the senses — the groceries for sales and the brewing coffee that was the cheapest I found anywhere in Italy. The noise there felt like a respite from the summer sightseeing; it felt like a place I could live.

gelato italy
Nothing like a stop for gelato (not mojito)

Two and a half days in the city was not enough, but packing in all the major sites in one afternoon made the time more enjoyable. Having my top destinations all planned for one day meant I had more time to experience the city — there was no pressure to get anything done, except to find a meal (not the easiest task in a tourist center).

central market florence italy
Inside Mercato Centrale

I know there was more to see farther from the city center, but I didn’t have enough time for any of it. I was content with what I was able to see. And heading out to Uffizi Gallery early in the morning to beat the crowd made for a delightful walk through mostly empty streets — if I had had more time, I would stopped for more photos of the buildings.

Comunità Ebraica di Firenze
Moorish-style synagogue Comunità Ebraica di Firenze

Before my mid-afternoon train back to Perugia, I wandered more. I found the Jewish neighborhood with a beautiful synagogue, Comunità Ebraica di Firenze. Unfortunately, I could not go in to see the interior, which looks amazing from the photos I’ve found online.

Giardino della Fortezza
Possibly Italy’s ugliest fountain

And before catching the train, I stumbled upon what is quite possibly the ugliest fountain in all of Italy at Giardino della Fortezza.

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