Submitted February 28, 2020
First Impressions: Five Senses in Florence
By Nicole Golownia
As a study abroad student in Florence, Italy, I have experienced an undeniable case of sensory overload. From its decadent Renaissance architecture to its overcrowded tourist centers, I have at times received more input from my five senses than my brain could process. Check out these spots to isolate the senses and optimize your time in Florence.
Palazzo Pitti overwhelms one’s field of vision with its extravagance. The most grandiose palace in Florence, the Pitti hosts five museums. Paintings in the Palatine Gallery cover wall after wall and are only enhanced by their lavish frames. Chandeliers drip out of Baroque frescoes in the Royal and Imperial Apartments, with richly decorated furniture at every turn. The sumptuous Boboli Gardens behind the palace are adorned with sculptures and fountains.
Florence is full of quaint caffès, but one outdoes them all: Caffè Rosanò. Located near Piazza San Marco, the caffè offers incredible coffee and brunch. Start your day like an Italian with a soft and creamy pastry or gooey pistachio croissant. Order a nutella crepe that melts in your mouth with each glorious bite. Want to experience the best coffee in Florence? The caffè latte con cioccolato is not to be missed. With its chocolatey yet creamy flavor, the unparalleled drink promises ultimate bliss.
If you are seeking the most appetizing smells in Florence, check out Mercato Centrale located in the San Lorenzo neighborhood. On the ground floor, experience Tuscan cuisine scents as you hunt for local ingredients, ranging from traditional unsalted bread to fresh cheeses and seasonal vegetables. On the second floor, get a whiff of each ‘laboratory’ that sells different Italian specialties, including a gelato and chocolate stall, a pizza and pasta stall, and a truffle stall, among others.
Descend down a short set of stairs and hear jazz music in the relaxed yet cool basement of La Ménagère. Live bands play nightly Thursday to Sunday. Unwind on comfortable sofa style seating as you listen to musicians effortlessly flow through melodies on a small backlit stage. Enjoy the keyboard’s improvisation and the cello’s syncopated rhythmic patterns. Music lovers will love its hip atmosphere and eclectic ambiance.
Feel luxurious designer clothes from the 1920s to today at Street Doing Vintage located near Ospedale degli Innocenti. From fringes to furs, this shop facilitates a tactile encounter with Italian fashion history. Flip through rack after rack of high-end garments and accessories like Salvatore Ferragamo wools and Gucci leathers. Try on those Fendi pants just for fun. And for the ultimate tactual reward, dig through suitcases of silk scarves.