City Trip Italy - Part II: Firenze

Join Roy Poots and I on our travel through Italy. In this series of blogs I will take you through some of Italy’s most famous and beautiful cities. Our city trip through Italy was well underway and after a spectacular time in Rome (you can read all about it here) it was time for our second stop of the journey: two nights in Firenze!

Firenze: Visiting the birthplace of the Renaissance

Only a swift 2-hour train ride from Rome, we arrived at Santa Maria Novella Train Station in Firenze around 3 PM. Since we were carrying heavy luggage, we decided to take a taxi ride to our next apartment. On our way, we drove past many of Firenze’s main attractions, including the famous ‘Duomo’ and the ‘Ponte Vecchio’.

After this impressive entrance to the city, we were happily surprised by what I can only call one of the most stunning and luxury AirBnb’s I’ve visited so far. Situated just outside the heart of downtown in the San Niccoli district, we chose this apartment for its close access to the Piazzale Michelangelo. If you're planning to visit Firenze, I would definitely recommend you consider this apartment for your stay.

Be sure to subscribe to Roy’s Youtube channel for his vlogs (in Dutch) to see some behind the scenes footage.

Firenze's most famous viewpoint

Following a quick 'freshen up', we headed out to find a place for dinner and found a lovely pizzeria. With our belly’s stuffed, we went back to our apartment and gathered our camera gear. Next, we started the steep ascent to the Piazzale Michelangelo. A little out of breath, we arrived at this 19th century square, which is not only home to a bronze replica of Michelangelo’s ‘David’, but also offers a truly spectacular vantage point to the city.

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One of the downsides of visiting a well know viewpoint is that it tends to be crowded and this place was no different. The Piazza was packed with tourists, but after a bit of patience and a bit of luck, Roy and I managed to grab a spot that offered an unobstructed view. We quickly set up our tripods, as it was time for some sunset shots! After a quick pano, I decided to take out my tele lens and managed to capture some nice atmospheric sunset shots.

Just like we had seen before during our shoots in Rome, after sunset a large portion of the crowd started to leave the site. For us though, our shooting session had only just begun and it was time to capture Firenze during blue hour.

We experienced quit the spectacular blue hour with lovely soft color tones slowly lighting up the city. I managed to grab some nice panoramas (my favorite shown at the start of this blog), but I also used my 70-200 lens to capture some intimate compositions of the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and the Palazzo.

After enjoying a successful shoot, we started our descent back down the hill and grab some drinks and relax. We then headed back to our apartment for  an  an early night's sleep, as we were planning for yet another very early rise at 5 am the next morning.

Enjoying the sights

After a very early rise the next morning, we headed the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, which is better known as ‘Il Duomo’. This cathedral is one of the largest of Europe and I can only imagine the amount of time and effort that must have gone into making it the crown jewel of the city. On arrival, we learned to our disappointment that one of our planned compositions was obstructed by construction works and scaffolding. Luckily, we also knew there were some more compositions and I managed to grab this shot:

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Next, we packed up our gear and since it was time for a well-deserved breakfast, we decided to go back to the apartment. On our way we grabbed some more sunrise shots of the piazza ‘Piazza della Signoria’ with its impressive Pallazo and of course the famous ‘Ponte Vecchio’.

After breakfast it was time to rest, and we did so till the early afternoon. After a short power nap and feeling fully refreshed, we agreed to head out to the city without our camera gear and do some sightseeing. Opposite to earlier that morning, during daytime the city was a bustle of activity, between locals traveling through and plenty of tourists like ourselves admiring the sights.

After a quick stop at the local grocery store, we also managed to arrange tickets for the day’s sunset shoot from the ‘Giotto’s Campanile’. We then returned to our apartment to watch the Formula 1 race, because as true Max Verstappen fan’s we couldn’t resist watching him win the Dutch Gran Prix at Zandvoort :)

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In the afternoon, we headed out back into the city and it was time for another strenuous climb. This time, we ascended Giotto’s Bell Tower. Since you’re not allowed to bring a backpack, I decided to bring only my camera and most versatile lens, the Nikon 24-120. The tower climb brings you to a height of 85 meters over the course of 414 steps. During the climb there are several ‘plateaus’ where you can enjoy an increasingly higher view of the city. When we arrived at the top of the tower, we were saddened to learn the view is now obstructed by protective ‘cage’, making it almost impossible to shoot with a large camera. I did however, still managed to capture some panoramas with my iPhone 12 Pro, shooting through the fence.

After sunset, it was time to head back down the tower again. Still a bit disappointed, we were still motivated for one more stop: the river view of the ‘Ponte Vecchio’ Probably one of the highlights of Firenze, this old bridge is filled with small juwelry stores and really comes to life during blue hour.

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After our final shots, we dropped of our gear at the apartment and went out the dinner at 'Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolò' and treated ourselves to some well deserved Fiorentine steaks and a bear or two :) Next it was time to head back to our apartment and pack up once again. We decided to skip the next day’s sunrise, as weather forecast predicted clear blue skies and we were also set the head out to our next destination of the journey…

To be continued. 

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