Before coming to Florence to study abroad for 4 months I had many people telling me “Florence is small, you can see the whole city in one day.” I became a bit nervous because I was about to stay there for four months, would I run out of things to do? After my arrival it was soon that I found out that even though you might be able to walk from one side of Florence to the other within 30 minutes, you could never capture the entire city in one day, one week, let alone 4 months!
The first couple of days you spend your days getting lost and coming upon these infamous monuments such as; the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Santa Croce, Piazza de Signoria, and many more. Then you find different places to eat the most delicious pizza and the creamiest gelato you will ever have. Then you realize the shopping, the addicting cappuccinos, and the espresso that give you a kick in the butt in the morning. Until one day you have the urge to touch the Duomo and notice the detail on every single square. That’s when you realize WOAH! Pause….. How could I ever capture every last detail of this entire city?
I have now been here for 1 month and 6 days and I know that I still don’t know even the half of it. However, one of the perks of living here is you get to unfold all the little secrets that Florence has to offer. Every day is a mystery to solve! Here are a few secrets that I have discovered with my Florence detective skills so far. As long as you promise to keep them between just you and me ;o).
Okay so you might have all heard of “The Secret Bakery” or maybe you haven’t, but either way it is a huge mystery to solve when you’re here. Late at night around 2:30-3:30am you need to start your search. The only way you can find the secret bakery is sniffing it out. So put your dog noses on and smell out the sweet smell of a bakery. Don’t even try to ask one of the locals where it is because they will act like they don’t know what the secret bakery even is. Trust me I tried! And don’t ask another student or one of the “When in Florence” guys where it is, because that’s CHEATING! Even though that’s what I did. But to say the least it was THE best pastry I had in my entire 21 years of life! Fresh out of the oven, sweet-tooth satisfying, gooey, mouth-watering, can’t get enough kind of pastry. And it was only 1 Euro! Bottom line make sure you find it.
Have you ever looked at the traffic signs? The city is based around walking so why would you ever look at the traffic signs, right? Wrong, look at them there a site to see! A local artist named Clet Abraham, originally from France, has been rebelliously placing stickers on each of the traffic signs since 2010. These stickers have created a personality to the streets of Florence creating controversy and a bit of humor for the people. Through research I found that he is actually committing an act that is against the laws of the road and he has received a couple of tickets to pay off when getting caught in the act of placing these stickers. However, they are easy removable adhesives, so why haven’t they taken them off yet? Personally, I believe that even the law can appreciate a rebellious and unique act of art especially in Florence, the city of art.
The Dollar Bill Building, “WHAT THE HECK?! Is anyone seeing this right now? “Those were my thoughts when I first saw the building. I immediately wanted to show everyone back in America this bizarre building. There is American Dollar bills placed along the entire outside of the building. At first I thought they were real, as others did too in which you can see at the bottom of the building they ripped the bills off. (Dumb Tourists) Can I say that now? Through research I have found that they are actually fake bills. The building itself is called Sant’Orsola located in Via Panicale. It was originally a Convent that turned into a Tobacco factory and later was used for University classes and then became abandoned. Through its decades of abandonment, archaeologists discovered 8 skeletons. One in which they claim to be the sitter of the famous Mona Lisa painting! The location of the building became a highly populated area of immigrants, in which it became a violent and problematic street. This was unfortunate because it used to be a highly important area and it should not be forgotten. This unique approach to art surely raised awareness of the entire area. The Italian Province has now announced the restoration of the monumental building and is investing 46 million euro in its renovation. The Dollar bill act of art certainly helped the preservation of the importance of the Sant’Orsola complex.
Have you noticed the random white marble circle located on the ground in the Piazza del Duomo? Well in the 1600’s it is said that the top of the Duomo was struck by lightning and the copper ball rolled down the Duomo and shattered leaving an indent on the street and they marked where it had landed. That’s what the white circle is for! The copper ball has been replaced with an even bigger one today.
“If you don’t know, now you know!”
That’s all the secrets you get for now! Thanks for reading :o)