So many lookers in such a good-looking city
! Naked like Michelangelo’s David or rugged up in the latest winter fashion by their own world-class designers
, Florentines and their city never fail to impress. Already in need of oxygen after admiring their art, visitors are mesmerised by the vision of locals at aperitivo time, effortlessly strutting, flirting and evidently enjoying life. At times it seems nothing much has changed since the days of the Medici.
Of course much has changed. Florence’s short-lived stint as capital of Italy in 1865
was like a shot of adrenaline. The city bulldozed, constructed, rearranged avenues, wiped out whole quarters and tore down the medieval walls. And so the scene was set for the modern regional capital of Tuscany. Along the broad viali (avenues) that encircle old Florence a confusion of endless traffic tears around in chaotic style. Horns honk and brakes squeal as Florentines dart in and out of lanes in search of a break in the traffic. Ignorant of fear, motorini (moped) riders dash in and around larger vehicles, as if protected by some divine force.
The fortunate few get their first glimpse of Florence from the south. The road from rival Siena leads you to the heights backing the south bank of the Arno. Suddenly, through the trees, the glories of Florence burst into view – Giotto’s Campanile (bell tower), Brunelleschi’s dome, the Basilica di Santa Croce.
Only the hardest of hearts can remain unaffected
Medieval and Renaissance Florence was a financial powerhouse but it was never a romantic place. Its great families built fine mansions and lavished money on churches, public buildings and the arts, but not out of a love of beauty. To display greatness was to be great. The majesty of the Romanesque Baptistery, the Gothic Duomo and Renaissance basilicas was an advertisement as much of the power and wealth of Florence’s leading families as of the city’s artistic prowess. The families have gone, but the advertisements live on!
Florentines are born into a world of extraordinary timeless beauty, so it is hardly surprising that they cultivate their appearance, and do it so effortlessly. Home to the likes of Gucci and Ferragamo
, Florence means one thing: style, both past and present
. Phalanxes of stylish boutiques line up alongside the galleries and palazzi.
When the shops close, it’s time to eat. You wouldn't think for a minute that Italy, the land of pasta, is a gluten-free paradise
, would you? But it is . . . Italy is gluten-free heaven
in large part because everyone in Italy knows about coeliac disease
. When you ask restaurant staff about gluten-free food (il cibo senza glutine)
, they automatically respond with the question "Do you have coeliac disease?"
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