This was my first view of Florence. Hard to beat that. Like all great cities, Florence has a beautiful river running through it, in this case, the River Arno. From this vantage point atop Michelangelo Park, you can see the 14th century Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge) and the dome of Il Duomo di Firenze (Florence Cathedral), constructed in the 15th century.
I immediately felt at home in Florence. After a few days in busy, frantic Rome, what New York City might feel like if it was two thousand years old, Florence was more cozy. And as an artist, I could just feel the artistic vibe so much more clearly here. Narrower walking streets. A slightly slower pace. Wonderful.
And I also had one of the best meals of my life here. A friend from the States who lived in Florence for a short time, gave me directions to a small restaurant tucked in behind the Duomo. I wish I could remember the name of it. I remember it was rather unmarked and unassuming. One of those finds that only the locals know about.
It was during this meal that I first came to understand why dinner should sometimes be a three-hour event. I was dining alone that evening and I completely turned myself over to the staff and told them to bring me what they were most proud of. Actually a wonderful way to choose a meal, wherever you are.
My first course was five small pasta dishes. I finished the first and the second was brought to the table in short order. All different. All delicious. The rest of the meal continued on that delicious path and by the end, it had changed the way I thought about food and eating. It was that good.
It’s hard to beat Paris when discussing my favorite cities, but Florence is right up near the top. My favorite Italian city.