Florence is my favorite city in the world. I was amazed as soon as we got out of the train station. The buildings are gorgeous. The city is steeped in history and art and beauty.

Florence, or Firenze, was the home of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Leonardo, among other famous artists, thinkers, architects, etc. We visited the Piazza della Signoria first. It is an open air plaza with some of the most famous statues in the world just sitting there. It is home to the Fountain of Neptune, Judith and Holofernes, Hercules and Cacus, Rape of the Sabines, and others. We ate lunch at an Italian (obviously) restaurant right beside the plaza. It is an amazing experience to sit and stare at amazing art while eating outside on a beautiful day.

The next thing we decided to do was visit Duomo, (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore). This is a large and beautiful cathedral. It was built over several hundred years. The dome was designed by Brunelleschi, and is an architectural wonder. Inside are many pieces of art that are famous, such as Michelangelo’s Pieta. Josh and I got into the line to go into the dome, and up to the top of the dome.

It took us a long time to get inside. Once we did we started a long climb to the top. The sign at the start warned us that there are 493 steps to the top. We climbed up many long narrow stone staircases. We arrived at a small ledge on which we could walk around the outside of the domed roof on the inside, looking at the frescoed ceiling. It was a painting of the Final Judgement. There were a lot of scary demons torturing people, or eating them even.

After that we climbed some more stairs until we reached the top of the dome and looked out over the gorgeous landscape of Florence. It is such a beautiful city. The mountains rise up, with farms and vineyards on them, and the amazing buildings in Florence surrounded by old and classical buildings.

Josh and I took photos and looked and rested, and then headed back down all 493 stairs again. When we reached the bottom, our legs were shaking. We headed to a nearby gelato store and ate enormous waffle cones of gelato. It helped to heal our weariness. After that adventure though, we were rather too tired to try to do very much more.

We walked by the bronze doors with gold covering of the baptistry building outside of the Duomo. I took some photos of them, they were incredible. It is incredible the art that is in this city. I could walk around for so long without seeing it all. I could look at the doors themselves for a lot longer before I really see it all. Incredible.