Even though I'd been to Florence numerous times myself, it just didn't feel right to take Nick to Italy and not stop in there, so off the birthplace of the Renaissance we went. I have mixed feelings on Florence: it's so full of beautiful art and history, but with that comes a mind-boggling number of tourists jam-packed into a relatively small city, making it feel much more tourist-oriented than an actual city that Italians live and work in. To make matters crazier, we unknowingly arrived during Florence's busiest week of the year: Pitti, a huge fashion fair, was going on, so the town was up to its ears in models, designers, and the like.
You could spend weeks in Florence, going to museums every day, and not make a dent in the vast number of masterpieces housed in Florence's galleries, palaces, and even piazzas. We only had two days, so we picked wisely and visited the Uffizi Galleries, which have to contain the biggest number of Virgin Mary + Baby Jesus paintings of all time! The collection is impressive, but we knew our limits when it comes to Renaissance paintings, so we spent the rest of our time walking through the cities busy streets, gorging on Tuscan food, and catching up with our good family friend Sergio who came to spend the day with us.
My father studied architecture in Florence, and for that reason alone it will always be a special place for me to visit, but at the end of the day I think Nick and my mom summed it up nicely when I asked them what they thought of Florence: "It's no Rome!" In any event, it was time to leave the crowds behind and head to Austria to see the other half of my family for the final few days of our trip!