Yesterday, late evening when we reached Florence it was drizzling and continued raining during the night. We got up to find grey sky - a very big disappointment compared to last few days as we had picture perfect blue sky. We also had to take out light jackets as temperature dropped. The hotel we stayed was not great but it was clean and functional in the centre of city even we could see the dome of famous cathedral from our hotel room window.
Florence was capital of Italian Renaissance so planned to visit famous Uffizi and Accademia dell’Arte. We started with the later one as it was next to our hotel. But we were surprised to find a long queue at 8.00 AM. We had to use even umbrella in between but those rain did not deter anyone in the queue as all were waiting with patience for their turn to enter.
Photography is completely prohibited inside; there are too many security personal who try their best to stop you as soon as you remove lens cap off your camera. Although flash photography is not allowed but still cameras flash and whispering sound you can hear. Some art students try to sketch at corners. He (David) looks really magnificent; recently celebrated his 500th birthday. Besides him there are numerous other art objects to explore.
TIP: Only if you are interested in visiting David and Slaves then must otherwise there is no point to explore as not worth the entrance fee.
We walked to Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral) after that. The cathedral of Florence needs lots of words to explain its beauty of architecture; marble works on the wall and floor. You can spend days to gather details of those fine craftsmanship. The top of the cathedral (dumo) is really big and it’s an engineering marvel when such huge dome was created without using any steel. The famous “last judgment” is there but looking long at that one might hurt your neck. Outside in the corner there is Battistero di San Giovanni which is considered oldest building and in front there is “gate of paradise” which inspired Rodin to create his “gate of hell”.
Nucleus of Florence is very animated and pedestrian friendly. Top attractions are minutes apart by walking. Piazza della Signoria (a.k.a. Palazzo Vecchio) is one of the main squares of Florence. Once upon a time original David stood here along with other numerous sculptures before moving to his current home.
We decided to take Renaissance walk towards Ponte Vecchio through town centre. On the way we bought advance ticket for Uffizi museum. Ponte Vecchio is the oldest and most famous bridge over the Arno River; the only bridge to survive WW2 air bombing. This bridge is lined with jewelery shops connecting Uffizi to the old Medici palace.
It was time for lunch so we walked into a restaurant without thinking much and found it was white table clothed one. Surprisingly, the prices were not enormous like other tourist places. We tried pasta which they served with freshly baked bread; WOW I still lick my lip for.
After that great meal we crossed Arno but we did not went to Piazzale Michelangelo or other attraction like Boboli Gardens from there you get very good view of Florence but we skipped that.
Instead we went to Church of Santa Croce; which have monumental tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Dante, and many others. Though Duomo is not very far this is the every day church for locals. There is a minimal fee to enter as tourists with free access to other parts inside the building. There is a leather factory run by the church where you get beautiful stuff without hassles of bargain. The inside garden (cloister) is calm and lush green. Besides, this in surrounding areas they have lot of leather shop.
Tip: good place to buy fashionable leather jacket.
Took a bus to railway station to visit another famous church Santa Maria Novella, but we found it closed. This also contains numerous art works. At last, at day end we went back to our hotel to freshen up and then while we were looking for restaurants were greeted Buonasera!!! to one of true Italian restaurant. Here we had Tuscan speciality at one of the small, neat and hunted by locals. Worth saying gracias.
Tip: It’s better to reserve in advance for museums (preferably by internet to avoid long queue) although its bit costly but saves time. Louvre museum also have plenty of renaissance work so if you are from Paris you can save money by visiting on months first Sundays (free entrance).