I've been here a couple times before, so many years ago, but always in summer. I love experiencing Florence in winter.. check out the snow in the hills behind.. looks amazing on a very rare but really clear day.. but also less tourists, and more authentic Italian lifestyle which I prefer.
Heck, where do you start talking about a city like Florence.. I'll tell you where I wish I had started if I wasn't so into all the motorcycle and blog things that needed to be done - is a proper tour of Florence.
With 3 months here on winter hiatus, I will do my best to offer a great snapshot.. but I learned a lot while living here, and if you want to know anything in particular, please email me.
First, and most important advice I can give, is to take a tour.. Florence is so full of really big history, and really big art. Nice to read about, but the tour makes all the difference. I was here far too long without taking this tour, and it completely changed my perspective of all these streets I have been walking on my own.. The Original and Best walking Tours by Artviva http://www.italy.artviva.com/
One of my favorite things to learn was this art discovery in Santa Trinita.. When restoring a painting, they found the original and different painting underneath.. the original wasn't finished because the artist got fired! So those holes (dots) are made by artist #2 to help his fresco adhere to the top of artist #1's work.. and then under this one is the "pencil" drawing used to start it all.
The chapels on the side of churches are usually paid for by church members and a family status symbol. Interestingly for this family crest, they made their fortune as drug dealers (selling opium!) Shown by the 3 seeds below the "Non Dormire" flag. Hey, they're proud of it! and the church got it's money too!!
AND THEN! You find in this fresco (if you can click to enlarge it), that the artist includes a self portrait on the very far right, and on top of that, HE is the only one looking right back at ya!
Just before the show, we eat the best Italian food from the kitchen, famously called out by the cook when it's ready..