March 30, 2017

Sami Coulthard documents her 3-day trip to the historic Florence in polaroid. Over to you, Sami…

I had the pleasure of marking a late Valentine’s with my other half in the dreamy and picturesque city that is Florence. With only three days to spend in the city, we had our heads up and eyes glued to the beautiful stonework carved into the cathedrals and landmarks. Every road we turned down was embellished with colour and culture. Staying in a B&B close to the city centre, we woke each morning with no real plan – only a map in one hand and our cameras in the other.

We spent our first day seeking out Florence’s illustrious attractions. The churches, galleries and finely cut sculptures were all uniformly huddled quite close together in the centre for us to find. Amongst the latter was the incredible Cattedrale di Santa Maria, a historic sight like no other, and one I recommend despite the hustle and bustle of camera enthusiastic tourists.

We visited the cathedral when it was wrapped in a cloudless blue sky and stopped for some lunch in a small, tucked-away café. We went again at night where the building illuminated the dusk for us during dinner at a traditional Italian diner. It was the type of place where the chef personally greeted everyone as they waited for their food. This restaurant reminded me that there’s nothing better than stumbling across an unexpected gem, and we felt that Florence itself was just that. Aside from the tourist destinations circled on our map, it was the hidden gems that truly made our trip. Sunday brought us a day of wandering around, where we were stumbled across artists drawing portraits on the ground with nothing but a few chalks and a hat for tips.

We later filled our cravings for something sweet with a gelato from the coolest gelato bar that we stumbled across between gallery hunting. Under arcade-like neon lights, there was an array of ice-cream including Nutella, strawberry and pistachio flavours (and even a couple of vegan choices!)

Simply drifting about led us to cross over the Ponte Vecchio bridge. The bridge itself was pinned with hundreds of locks scribbled with lovers, familial and friends’ names. I later learnt that attaching a padlock to any surface of the bridge, followed by throwing away the key into the Arno River below, meant that your love would last forever. It was an idyllic concept fit for our Valentine’s trip.

After taking a wrong turn, we found an old photo booth at the end of a quiet street named Viva Dei Serragli. Built into a bright orange building, the booth asked for 2 euros in exchange for a strip of black and white film photos. 4 random poses and 4 and a bit minutes later, our photo arrived. The first square featured two very surprised faces as the machine gave no countdown to pose like our British photo booths. In fact, we loved it so much that by the end of the day, we found our way back to the alluring orange building like magnets for four more snaps.

A few days in Florence opened our eyes to witness its beauty, and not just through the lens of a tourist, but with a curious mind. Like anywhere, it’s usually the unknown treasures that are buried somewhere between the gift shops that make the trip memorable. For us however, a few days wandering was plenty. I mean, we even had time to catch a train out of the city to get some snaps with the leaning tower of Pisa – ciao!

See more from Sami on her blog.