Reality Bites in Florence

This was where I had wanted to be for YEARS. To soak up all the history, culture and language that Florence has to offer. To walk along narrow streets, along corridors of galleries,Β  and sit in piazze. It has finally happened, but somehow the reality is not quite living up to the dream…
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I’m afraid I have built it up in my head to the point my dream does not meet reality. Florence just feels like your average bustling tourist destination, and not at all special.

It’s just that I wanted Florence all to myself, and didn’t want to share it with the hordes of tourists who are here. I know that sounds stupid, as I am one of those very hordes. And to be honest, the dream did not include two children crying out for gelati every five minutes. To be fair to the little BGs, we are walking more and using less public transport, and it is quite warm- though the meltdown by the youngest BG in the middle of the Uffizzi will make the occasion a memorable one!

Another thing is we are comparing a lot of Florence with Rome. In Rome we were in a residential neighbourhod near the Vatican and away from the older part of the city. Here we’re close to Santa Maria Novella and the railway station and a restaurant which closes at 11.30. The windows are not double-glazed,so a lot of noise floats up from the street. The once-loved scooters are now much despised for their noise and I really can’t say too much about tourists who decide to come back to their hotels at 4am, laughing and calling out to each other, without using language quite unseemly for this blog. I’m not getting enough sleep and this has not improved my mood.

The water is hot but not much water pressure (Mr BG says it’s like being weed uponfrom a great height ) and the hairdryer doesn’t work. This caused some amount of grief I am ashamed to say, as it takes about an hour for my hair to fully dry, and this is one place where I want to look my best.

I’m just going to have to throw out all my preconceptions and start from scratch πŸ™‚ .

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14 thoughts on “Reality Bites in Florence

  1. This is exactly how I felt about Paris. I thought I would love it, but when I arrived there were no secret Parisian streets and shops and things to uncover. Paris had long since been plundered by the millions of tourists that had come before me. I liked it, but I did not fall in love with it as I had dreamed. The city was full of loud Americans and people trying to sell cheap sunglasses and Eiffel Tower keyrings.

    I blame Amelie.

    On another note, is it gelati festival over there? I was over there this time last year and Florence has a big gelati festival on. It was fantastic!

    • We missed the gelati festival- lots of signs to let us know we were going to miss it. We managed to sample as much gelati as possible over the week we were there from as many places as possible to get the full gelati experience though.
      Paris is another story. I know what you mean, it can be a tourist-ridden theme park. There is heaps of places you can go that aren’t so touristy staying away from the rue de Rivoli and the Louvre is a huge start.

  2. Gelati Festival is this week! Steph, did you try the gelati at Grom? It was fab fab fab – completely ‘uncommercial’ with proper flavours hidden under stainless steel lids (as, say, soup). We tried one of the nasty ones near the Ponte Vecchio and it was just vile – only slightly better than a Mr Whippy soft serve. Ugh.

    Liana, I agree with you about Paris – it’s never grabbed me. But I had my first visit to Florence the same week as our blogger and loved it, despite the tourists. And the weather was so glorious, who needed a hairdryer? πŸ˜‰

    • I think I know the one you mean we went there twice and it was unbelievable! The hairdryer situation was eventually resolved, and it was so sunny, my hair dried quicker too πŸ™‚

  3. Next time, try to stay closer to the Piazza della Signoria. Much crowded in the day, but at night it all slows down. The gelato at Gelati Via Neri is to die for. Also, there’s a great little panini store just before the gelati store that makes “to order” your lunch. Then, they have little seats out front to eat and slow the pace. May is a tough time to visit Firenze…too darn many of us tourists πŸ™‚

    • I think it is getting to be a busy time for Firenze regardless of the time of year, but I am forewarned for next time. Thank you for the suggestions πŸ™‚

  4. I suppose you travelled with a group and had the whole tourist crowd experience? I travel alone and make my own decisions, staying places I have chosen. Not everything works out well but there are many more pleasant days. Now that you have seen for yourself, how about going back on your own out of season? As an ex-Londoner, I can promise you that the tourist season is a time for locals to get away into the countryside. Just go a couple of weeks either side of the peak season, and preferably before the tourist season begins, that is what I recommend.

    • Hi Pamela, no I travelled with my family of husband and two children. We made the decision to stay in an apartment, that we found online. I agree that flexibility, especially with children is paramount, and the tour group experience does not offer that for me nor my family. Our choice of time was predicated by our ability to get leave from work and May in Italy was considered to be not too hot in which to travel. Thanks for your suggestions!

  5. PS, I apologise for suggesting out of season to you, as May is out of season anyway! My daughter did not like Florence either, but bought some shoes of course. She spent much more time in France than she had ever expected to, down south and even on the Riviera, just for the heck of it.

    • It is simple things like these which make you feel human. The bed was comfortable, it was just hard to enjoy with the noise outside. I took to sleeping with earplugs during the last couple of nights!

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