Many who go to Florence Italy would think that once you’ve seen Michelangelo’s David, Brunelleschi’s Duomo, Botticelli’s Primavera, The Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Pitt, and weaved your way through the city’s many museums, you would be done. But Florence is more than just a terra-cotta maze for you to pinball around, it is a city that is often misunderstood and undiscovered.
The city of Florence is a great example of old meets new, with centuries-old buildings lined with high-end dining and casual bistros to brick roads with florists and shops selling home-goods.
However, the new is overshadowing the old. With almost 16 million people visiting the city annually, the volume of the crowds makes it easy to forget that the city is also home to 380,000 residents. Florence’s heritage and culture, centuries-old pursuit of “wild fantasies” that once made the city a civilization hub, is at risk of declining due to mass tourism.
Most tourists would roam around the city with ant like intensity, marvelling and taking numerous pictures at the various antiquities they pass by. Florence is often approached by drive-by sightseeing, stopping at a location and taking as much photos they can that would last them a lifetime to post, instead of taking in the quality and the experience.
Effort is being made to develop and raise more awareness to the city’s identity. Recently, an exhibit showcasing Jeff Koons sculpture in the plaza of Palazzo Vecchio, marking it the first time in 500 years that an authentic piece of such scale had been displayed alongside sculptures by Michelangelo and Donatello.
An alternative way to find your way round the city without having to dodge selfie sticks every time, is by conversing with locals and follow them as your primary guide. Their enthusiasm and pride for the city will give you a whole new perspective of Florence.