I only have one more day in Florence. From what I’ve experienced thus far, it’s great — but the people are much different than in Rome. To me, people almost act like they do in Miami. In other words, people aren’t as nice to tourists and as hospitable as they are in Rome.
When I first got to Florence, it was a bit of a culture shock because it’s so much different than Rome, where I had been living for over two weeks. The hospitality was different, the people were different, the nightlife was different… I fell in love with Rome and I thought that what I experienced in Rome would be what I would experience everywhere in Italy.
But I was wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I love Florence. It’s beautiful, but there’s a lot of tourists here. In fact, there’s a lot of Americans here and I very rarely encountered Italians. The Italians I did encounter, however, weren’t very nice to tourists. When I would stop by cafes around the Duomo — or even eat in one of their restaurants — there almost always was a problem. They would give us mean faces and would have no patience with us.
Yesterday, I ate in a restaurant that was charging €18 for a plate (that’s almost 20 dollars for just the food). Granted, this place was expensive and very touristy but, so far, I’ve only been to pretty expensive places.
Today, just a while ago, I stopped to talk to a few tourists around the baptistery (where Ghiberti and Brunelleschi had their competition for the baptistery doors). In front of these doors stood a couple dozen tourists, who were all trying to get a picture of the doors — though I really doubt that they even knew that the doors weren’t the original ones. The original Ghiberti doors are in a museum right next to the Duomo — which was closed for restoration (and I’m very upset about that).
Anyway, I spoke to a couple of tourists about their experience in Florence. I asked them if they’d been to Rome or any other places in Italy and how they liked them in comparison to Florence. One of them told me that Florence was their favorite (he had been to Rome, Venice and Sicily before). He said this was because he was an art history major and it had always been one of his dreams to come to Florence and see all these artworks — which are incredibly famous and overall amazing — face to face.
Obviously, I agree with him. Although I enjoyed Rome more, I can’t deny how amazing Florence has been. I can’t deny how much knowledge I’ve gained from just looking at the artwork from famous artists — pieces that I’ve only read about or seen pictures of. It’s truly an amazing experience.
Another one told me that he just came for the Piazza del Duomo. He had read about Brunelleschi’s Duomo in the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and he was really interested in its history. He was from Arizona and he actually gave me a lot of insight on the importance of it.
Il Duomo di Firenze was completed in the early 1400s by Filippo Brunelleschi and it’s surrounded by the Baptistery and Giotto’s Bell Tower. Apparently, the basilica is one of Italy’s largest churches and it was once the largest in the world. The tourist from Arizona (who is studying to be an architecture and history) told me that it’s now the largest brick dome ever made and the cathedral is actually the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Florence.
In fact, on Thursday, I went to a mass there for Corpus Christi, the feast that celebrates the tradition and belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ and his presence in the Eucharist. This mass usually accompanies a procession, which — as a Catholic — I do every year in Miami. However, in Florence it was a completely new experience. All the cardinals and archbishops of Florence showed up at the Cathedral and there ended up being a procession with thousands of people. It was amazing to be involved in that way.
Although tourism is more concentrated in Florence than in Rome or Miami, it’s still an amazing place to visit. You can’t go to Italy and NOT visit Florence… It’s a completely different experience. Almost like a whole other country (though a very small one).