We came to Italy to visit Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast with a stopover in Civita di Bagnoregio. When we made the arrangements we did not realize we were going to be in Tuscany for Holy Week. After looking at the calendar, we knew we would still be in Tuscany, spending Good Friday in Florence.
We had already visited Pisa, Lucca, and Montecatini Alto. We went to Volterra and San Gimignano. But now it was time for Firenze or to us Americans, Florence.
What to do for Good Friday in Florence
I made up my mind for parking I would use the Piazzale Michelangelo, a free parking area overlooking Florence with a replica of the statue of David by Michelangelo Buonarroti there. I found the parking area, we parked, and then stood in awe of the view of Florence from this vantage point and took a ton of photos.
Naturally, what caught my eye as I gazed on Florence was the Duomo looming over the skyline. As expected, I began to cry seeing the beauty of Florence and realizing how long I have wanted to stand right here seeing this amazing site.
Now to find tickets for the bus to get us into town. I had forgotten to use the ATM to get Euros before we left our B&B in San Donato in Poggio. All I had was a $20.00 bill in American currency. The gentleman that sold the tickets could not accept the American dollars, then I proposed to him to take the whole twenty then. The tickets were only 5 Euro each, so he got the better end of the deal!
We caught the bus which took us to the area of the Train Station of Santa Maria Novella. I didn’t have a map yet of Florence but wanted to see the Duomo first. The full name is Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Let’s just call it the Duomo. In the distance, we can see the dome of the Duomo and use this as a point of reference.
Walking the streets and checking out the shops and restaurants. There were jewelry shops, leather goods, butchers, bakeries. We saw families eating a Bistecca Fiorentina, the traditional Florentine steak. So thick and juicy. We see some restaurants we want to go back to but don’t know if we will ever find them again. We continue walking.
I look down the street and there it is the Duomo.
The Duomo of Florence
The Dome rising up above everything around it. It was an impressive sight. My wife and I have seen photos of the Duomo and Bell Tower. We have seen travel shows about it, such as Rick Steves, but to see it in person was just one more of many sites that have brought me to tears since I arrived in Italy. As we approached the Duomo we noticed a small crowd following a man carrying a crucifix. My wife and I realize this is a Good Friday in Florence procession. We decide to join it.
The procession of Good Friday in Florence
We didn’t anticipate this, nor have any idea where we were going. But we stayed with the crowd. As we walked through the streets of Florence more and more people joined us.
There were no signs, no invitations, everyone just knew what was going on and joined in to be part of this Holy Tradition of Good Friday in Florence. More walking, more people joining in.
The crowd was silent. I have never experienced anything like this, but so glad we did here in this wonderful city. The procession continued on to the Piazza and the Church of Santissima Annunziata. There, was a large open area, the Piazza. On three sides were churches or buildings that belonged to the church. On the marble steps and among the marble columns were crowds of people that I soon would learn was the church choir.
By now the crowd has grown to probably 500 or more, maybe 1000, it’s hard to say how many. On the steps of the church, was a choir and a priest and some other laypeople.
Everyone moved in toward the steps with the choir. There were prayers about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the fact that this was Good Friday in Florence. As we stood and listened the Choir began to sing. If ever I heard the sound of Angels, this was it. My wife and I grew up Roman Catholic and were very moved by all this.
We stood for another 20-30 minutes, listening but then decided to move on.
The David by Michelangelo and the Galleria dell’Accademia
It was around lunchtime by now and we still had reservations to see the real statue of David of Michelangelo. The line to get in the Galleria dell’Accademia was very long. And this was expected. I had heard you should buy your tickets ahead of time so as not to stand in line. And I did. BUT, I forgot to bring my confirmation letter. I managed to get inside the entrance door, and talk to the receptionist and explained my problem. She looked our name up and found it and let us jump in line ahead of the rest. We had just seen a copy of David by Michelangelo in the Piazza Della Signoria.
Most people think this is “The David”, but it is only a copy. The real one is inside the museum. Going inside almost one of the first things you do see is this magnificent statue. Standing high above everyone on a Pedestal.
Have you guessed yet, do you know me yet? More tears. Not of sadness, but of awe and happiness and the realization that I am here in this most historic city seeing things I have only heard of or read about. I can’t really say what else we saw inside, we were too moved by seeing David. But I do remember some statues that were unfinished by Michelangelo lining the hallway leading to David.
Outside the museum, there were art vendors. They had their prints spread out on the pavement. My wife Jaci took a liking to this one. The dealer gave her a price. She said no thanks since we had a lot of walking around to do, she didn’t really want to have to carry it. He offered a lower price. She still said politely, no Grazie. The vendor asks, do you like this painting? My wife tells him, YES I love it. The man rolls it up and says, it’s yours, for free, take it, please. The painting as it turns out is very famous and called “The Kiss” by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt painted in 1908 and it now is displayed over our bed in our bedroom.
Good Friday in Florence was an unexpected bonus to our trip. We hadn’t planned it. And somehow that made it even more special. We loved Florence. But at the end of this day, knew one day was not enough time to see all there is to see in this beautiful city. We plan to go back. But next time, we won’t stay just in Tuscany, but right inside Florence. No car, just my wife and I wandering through history. And maybe next time a piece of jewelry for Jaci on the Ponte Vecchio. Do you know of this bridge? Maybe that will be another story.
If you wish to visit Florence in a different way, have a look at the 10 unusual things to do in Florence or at the splendor of Palazzo Borghese.
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Updated on 10.04.2020
2 thoughts on “Good Friday in Florence”
Do you remember what time of day this Good Friday procession in Florence took place? We will be in Florence this year on Good Friday 2017 and would love to see it and join in.
Dear Leanne, thanks for leaving a comment and sorry for delay. The procession Jack talked in the blog post was during the morning. Close by Florence, in the village of Grassina, the evening of Good Friday there is a procession, representing the Passion of Christ, with people wearing historical costumes. If you are still in Florence for Easter there is a unique historical event, the “Scoppio del Carro”, dated back to 1600. A wagon is pulled by a pair of oxen decorated in garlands through the streets of Florence to the square between the Baptistry and Cathedral. Once in town I suggest you to ask to the hotel or tourist information. Every parish church use to organize something on Good Friday (a procession or liturgy and veneration of the cross).