A Florentine Getaway

During a trip to Rome, our author took a day-long side trip to Florence, where she and her husband marveled at art, savored street food, and found moments of peace away from the city crowds.

Abazzia di San Miniato al Monte.

Photo by Amanda Dalla Villa Adams

In the middle of the week, we escaped the bustle of Rome by taking Frecciarossa, a high-speed train with top speeds of 300 kilometers per hour, to Florence. The hour-and-a-half train ride was a comfortable and easy ride that offered views of the Tuscan countryside dotted by herds of sheep, Italian cypress trees, and small towns. Once we arrived, we ran to the Duomo Complex to awe at Brunelleschi’s dome that kicked off the Renaissance and Ghiberti’s gilded bronze doors that Michelangelo named the Gates of Paradise (1425-52). Neither failed to impress, and we instantly fell in love with Florence.

Santa Maria del Fiore.

Photo by Amanda Dalla Villa Adams

Lunch at the Mercato Central Firenze, a food-court style market, reminded us of hipster America (complete with avocado toast), and we couldn’t help but consider Florence and Rome as parallel to Richmond and Washington, D.C. As a vegetarian, I was pleased to find an entire restaurant in the market devoted to vegan fare, while another vendor offered traditional lampredotto, or cow’s stomach, and other street food like deep-fried vegetables and meats.

After a walking tour of the architectural highlights of the Renaissance and the Ponte Vecchio, a fourteenth-century bridge that was allegedly saved by the Nazis at the behest of Hitler himself, we headed up a steep incline to Piazzale Michelangelo, which promised a dramatic panoramic of the city according to the guidebooks. What we discovered were tour buses. Beckoned by the distant ringing of bells, we climbed farther to the eleventh-century Abazzia di San Miniato al Monte, a church at the top of the mountain accessible only by foot. Finally alone, we sat and stared for a long time at the city below before meandering back silently through empty, winding, narrow streets. It was the Italy we had been searching for.

Logistics: A roundtrip economy high-speed train ticket from Rome to Florence cost €66 (approximately $74). Like airplane tickets, prices fluctuate.


To read about our author’s full trip to Rome, pick up a copy of our December 2019 issue.

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