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We asked a Florentine to close his eyes and guide us throughout Florence.
"Imagine standing on the stone, in the exact center of Piazza della Signoria, where the inscription shows the exact spot where Friar Savonarola was sentenced.
Now look beyond Palazzo Vecchio towards the Uffizi Gallery and you will notice a suspended aerial passage between the two buildings that throws, along the Arno and all over the goldsmith shops of Ponte Vecchio, well beyond the medicean church of Rosso Fiorentino up to Palazzo Pitti.
You have just traveled the route that the Grand Duke would have taken in the event of a popular uprising, undisturbed, from his studio in Palazzo Vecchio, along the Offices to his residence and from there, up the hill through the Boboli Gardens to the square dedicated to Michelangelo, where you can admire the city.
Not only that: did you know that the largest gallery of self-portraits in the world is now housed in that corridor designed and built by Vasari? You start the visit with Durer's self portrait on the side and finish with Picasso, but few know it.
And speaking of views over the city, perhaps you will notice that the "from below" military fortress.
While the one from above is the Forte Belvedere, adjacent to Piazzale Michelangelo.
Here, its ramparts are not turned towards the outside of the city to identify a possible attack from the outside of an invading enemy, but towards the inside: Florentines Ghibellines and Florentines Guelphs riotous to keep under control! And, think about it, it is the only one in the world...
Returning towards the city center, looking frontally at Giotto's bell tower, on your right, in a medieval alley, you will find a historic 'food shop' that only Florentines know: Pegna, where, since 1860, you can buy Tuscan products from local farms , like Volterra's extra virgin olive oil, a genuine gift to take home.
After a lot of walking, I recommend that you orient yourself towards the church of San Lorenzo, behind which, inside the Medici Chapels, you will find the originals of Michelangelo's Alba e Tramonto. Now you can start whistling "Viva la pappa col pomodoro" that Rita Pavone sang in the 1960s: at 100 meters the Antichi Cancelli restaurant prepares a succulent one!
This is the restaurant where a Florentine would take you: few covers, red and white checkered tablecloths, flask wine, and... surprise surprise, no tourists! If, on the other hand, you prefer a Florentine steak, avoid restaurants that display the meat in the window and head towards Piazza Santa Croce: right behind it, the Fagioli restaurant is one of the most popular with Florentines because it is out of sight. Rustic atmosphere and top quality meat but, please, do not order it for just one person: remember that the Florentine steak is at least one kilo!
Of course, after such a dinner, you need a little workout; then I recommend that you cross Piazza Santa Croce again to Piazza dei Ciompi: nobody ever cares about it but above the stone loggia you will see majolicas representing fish, nothing more suitable for the medieval fish market!
And right in front of it, treat yourself to a cone of ice cream from Procopio: think, you will find at most 8, 9 flavors because Procopio only produces ice cream with fruits of the current season and with real milk! Extraordinary to think that it has won a lot of awards as the best ice cream shop in Florence and no tourist knows that it exists!!
My favorite, Pistachio di Bronte and Crema, yum! A little further on, a little away from the classic tours, you will find Sbigoli: Florence is known for its ceramics and Sbigoli is among the least commercial in the city. You will find ceramics in the Florentine style of majolica, centerpieces of lemons and oranges and a thousand other items all strictly handmade in the workshop inside the shop. The owner will be happy to let you browse during the process!
Ah! And speaking of Fra Savonarola: leave the Duomo behind and walk for ten minutes on the elegant Via Cavour. You will find yourself in front of the façade of San Marco, where the good friar preached, and after passing the elegant Renaissance cloister inside, you can access the friars' cells, all painted, with its sweet Madonnas, by the friar Beato Angelico. Leaving the church, take a look to your right: it is there, in the garden obscured from view, that little Michelangelo was learning to sculpt.