Carolyn Ross from Buckinghamshire visited the most romantic of all cities for Valentine’s Day, Florence, Italy.
When a waiter asked me on the morning of February 14 what my husband had given me for Valentine’s Day, I replied, “This. Florence.”
“Not bad,” he said.
Florence! Treasure trove of Renaissance paintings, sculptures, bridges and domes. The city, like its paintings, dazzles in rich colours and intricate design. And like the portraits of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino housed in the Uffizi Gallery, the city presents to visitors only its best side.
Close to the Uffizi is the Galleria dell’Accademia, where every year thousands flock to Michaelangelo’s marble statue of David. More than twice life-size, it stands in a vaulted space that you can walk around (treading carefully over art students drawing it from every angle).
The crowds are considerably reduced in February, and it’s warm enough to sit outside for a cappuccino before strolling across the Ponte Vecchio towards the Palazzo Pitti, then moving to the equally breathtaking Boboli Gardens at the back.
From the Kaffeehaus, an elegant 18th-century summer pavilion, the view across Florence is worth every step.
Across the River Arno is the fabulously ornate Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiori. A ruthless climb to the top of the duomo is rewarded with an unparalleled panorama of the city. Ancient towers, tiled roofs, domes and spires stretch beyond on all sides as you gaze down onto the narrow streets and piazzas.
That night, in a romantic trattoria, we tucked into maccheroni alla Tuscana and bistecca firenze, happily toasting each other with a rich and fruity chianti.
“Not bad” was the understatement of the century, never mind the year.