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Published: July 26th 2011
When we arrived at Venezia S.L station to buy our tickets to go to Florence we were hoping that we could get the 9:30am train however due to my bad planning all of the tickets were sold out for the next few trains so the next train available was at 13:30. After my biggest cock up of our trip so far we eventually made it to Firenze S.M.N station in Florence, we had pre booked tickets to go to The Uffizi and our time slot was at 14:45, 45 minutes BEFORE we were due to arrive in Florence. Luckily for us we explained our situation to the ticket office when we arrived and they still allowed us to go in.
Before we left England a friend of mine informed me that the queues for tickets to all of the museums in Florence were long, some up to two hours long, and if you wanted to avoid the queues you should pre book your tickets. There were two lines of people outside the Uffizi when we arrived, I assumed that the longer queue was for those people without a ticket and the shorter line was for those who had pre booked,
I was wrong. I asked the person checking the tickets to confirm which queue I had to go in with my ticket “Come straight in” he said, no queue for Chris & Nikki.....awesome!
Booking tickets in advance.......possibly the best advice ever!
The Uffizi Gallery is a collection of art and sculptures from the early renaissance and 17th and 18th century and all are housed in a stunning building in Piazza Della Signoria. Nikki and I made our way to the second floor and the enormity of the building hit us, as you exit the staircase you see an almost never ending corridor of sculptures and paintings. It felt quite surreal to see some world famous works of art by Michelangelo & Botticelli. Nikki pointed out Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’ painting (which I’m adamant she only knows because it’s on the starting credits for desperate housewives but she says otherwise), I felt awestruck looking at it. It was quite funny as there were clearly a lot of people, like myself who know absolutely nothing about art but can still appreciate it, walking around the museum and whenever there is a painting of a nude person there was a crowd,
I got shouted at for taking this picture
I found the biggest crowd was around the ‘Battle of ten nudes’.
We were staying in a B&B which was a stone’s throw from the Uffizi, just off Piazza Della Signoria, it was called Olga’s House but should have been called Roberto’s House. Olga’s House has got an amazing location, not only is it near The Uffizi but it is near Ponte Vecchio, Duomo, all of the bars & restaurants and is walking distance to the train station. Olga’s House is owned by a man called Roberto (who lives in the room next to the one we stayed in). Olga’s House scores very high in terms of location and is decorated to a fairly high standard, it has great character which is amplified by Roberto’s personality and has the best breakfast we’ve had so far in Italy.
This wasn’t a traditional breakfast in terms of a dining room within the B&B, you are given a token which you take to a local cafe which entitles you to a coffee and brioche standing at the bar with all the locals and no filter coffee either, we’re talking real coffee with real Italian people. I loved Olga’s House, or should
I say Roberto’s house, another thing that added to the character was the fact that to get in you have to walk up 77 steps, Nikki and I are fairly active people so this wasn’t a problem but I did kick myself one day when I got to the bottom and forgot my money so had to go back up and when I got to the bottom again I realised I didn’t have the map so had to go up AGAIN, walking up and down 77 steps 3 times before you have gone anywhere definitely works up a sweat.
Our first evening we took a stroll along Ponte Vecchio, the only original bridge in Florence from before world war two, which is now lined with jewellery shops. Nikki loves to look at jewellery but luckily for me doesn’t like to buy it all.
We bought tickets (in advance) to The Accademia, another of Florence’s great art galleries, the home of Michelangelo’s David. We booked our tickets for 8:30am to avoid the crowds and yet again the great advice of buying tickets in advance paid off, we were one of the fist people through the door. We thought it
best to head straight for Michelangelo’s David so we had a chance to see it without swarms of people around it, it is pretty much at the entrance to The Accademia at the end of a statue lined hallway. I’ve seen pictures of it before but there is something quite special about the first time you see it in real life, I wasn’t sure if you could take pictures of it or not so thought I would take one to see what happened, nobody said anything so I took a couple more then I heard a loud voice from the other end of the corridor “Attenzione, no pictures!” I got busted, but I got an awesome picture so it was worth it.
After our trip to The Accademia we went to The Duomo and went to the top of the dome, the queue was quite long and unfortunately you can’t buy tickets in advance so we joined the queue and managed to get in after only about 30 minutes. There is no lift and the stairs are narrow and steep but once you reach the top the views are amazing.
Everywhere you look in Florence there is a
beautiful building, most are now art galleries but some are just regular buildings that ooze character, I would say Florence is probably the most beautiful Italian city I have been to, in fact I would say it is probably the most beautiful city I have ever been to in the world. Every city has its good points and bad points and as with most cities they have quite similar bad points, con artists, pickpockets and more annoyingly the people that try to sell you cheap junk, they were bad in Paris but in Florence they didn’t seem to leave you alone.
After our last lunch in Florence (at the newly opened Hard Rock Cafe) we headed back to Olga’s House to pick up our bags to head for the train station, pretty much everywhere in Florence there are people busking, but not just playing an instrument and singing some sound like professional opera singers. On our way through Piazza Della Signoria a man began to sing ‘It’s time to say goodbye’ by Andrea Bocelli, perfect timing for such a great song and such a nice end to our time in Florence.
I loved Florence and would definitely break
my ‘never visit the same place twice’ rule to visit again, next stop Pisa.
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