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Published: July 21st 2011
The family, Ponte Vecchio at sunset
Someone offered to take this for us - perfect!
Heading to Florence can be a bit daunting. There is so much to see, and stories of 3 hour waits to enter the Uffizi gallery are a bit scary, especially with lots of children in tow! Last night Steve and I searched the Internet for reservations at the gallery, but found it all quite confusing. After he had gone to bed, I stumbled on a site called "Friends of Uffizi", an association set up after the terrorist bombing some years ago. One of the benefits of joining appeared to be free multiple entry to a huge number of galleries and museums in Florence, WITHOUT RESERVATION OR BOOKING! Could it be true? They even had a family membership!
Well, it was. I paid on Paypal, turned up this morning with the family and was ushered past the queue into a side office where we sat in comfy chairs while a lady took us through our membership. She printed 4 gorgeous plastic membership cards with a Botticelli print on one side and each of our names on the other. What a great souvenir! We spent a wonderful few hours in the Uffizi, again with an audio guide for Hugo's benefit, and wound
Family at the Uffizi
Before we realised you couldn't take any photos!
our way past the Birth of Venus, a few Michaelanglo's, a Da Vinci and one of my favourites - La Primavera. It is quite a small, manageable gallery compared with the Vatican Museum, and it was a pleasant surprIse to be able to see almost everything and not be exhausted! Someone needs to fill that gap in museum tours for kids in Italy though ......
We got a great view of the Vasari corridor from the top floor. I had tried to find out about touring it, but apparently it is only open a couple of times a year. The Vasari corridor runs from the Uffizi, which housed the offices of the Medici family, all the way across the Ponte Vecchio and up to the Pitti Palace, which was their home. We walked that distance, and it's quite a way! Apparently it was built because they feared being assasinated on the Ponte Vecchio, but it was disguised as a wedding gift to someone in the family. Isabel is intrigued, and we have decided to read up on the family when we get a chance.
There are countless artworks lining the walls of the corridors, and tickets to the tours
disappear quickly once they are advertised.
On our way from the car park to the museum, which was quite a walk, we had found a beautiful shop which sold Florentine paper, wax seals, and ink quills. The workshop was at the back, so we were able to look at some of the process. The children bought a couple of little things to take home including wax and a seal with Isabel's initial on it, which will be fun to play with. I remember getting one at about her age from Kryall Castle near Ballarat - not quite as romantic a destination as Florence!
We met up with the Mathews family in the Boboli Gardens (free with our Uffizi card!) after a quick slice of pizza on the run. It was such a hot day, and for the first time we were able to sit and relax in the shade on cool grass. I was keen on a quick look in the china gallery which was up high in the gardens, so we explored the parterre garden outside on our way. Perhaps taking 5 children into a gallery which contained priceless china hundreds of years old wasn't smart, but
they did seem to enjoy it.
We had started our day later than the Mathews, so we decided to stay in Florence for dinner and make the long drive worthwhile. I had read about a restaurant within our budget with the dubious name of "Open Bar Golden View Florence". It wasn't Chinese, but we half expected it to be! We found it with the help of google maps, and it really was a find. The air conditioning was possibly the most attractive thing as we walked in, but when they showed us to our table it was right on the river, overlooking the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery. We had the most wonderful evening, starting with a glass of complimentary Prosecco and a great pizza to share. The ravioli with 3 cheese sauce was unbelievable. Hugo had ordered a steak with pepper sauce which he inhaled, much to the waiter's amusement. We liked it so much that we tentatively booked a larger table for lunch on Thursday so that we could come back with the Mathews.
As we walked home over the bridge, the sun was setting and we stopped for some photos. It was an impressive
Isabel, the Golden Merry go round Florence
We couldn't believe that rides were only 1 euro!
scene. By chance we spotted the "Lucky pig", as Hugo calls it, and stopped to rub his nose for luck. There seem to be a few statues scattered across Italy with various body parts rubbed gold for the same reason. I believe in Verona it's a statue of Juliet.
Our ice-cream tip turned out to be a bum steer - the first average gelato in Italy, but we passed the most beautiful merry-go-round all lit up on our way to the car. Frank and I looked at each other and decided it was too good a chance to pass by, even though it had been a big day. Incredibly, when we bought tickets they were only one euro! Where in Australia can you get any kid's ride for around a dollar, much less one this gorgeous! It was a lovely way to end such a balmy night.
Feet were starting to hurt as we rounded the corner into the last stretch to the car park, but we were spurred on by the sound of beautiful music, and followed it until we found a church open with many people sitting and listening to a free organ recital. We caught
Ponte Vecchio from the restaurant
It had the dubious name "Open Bar Golden View Florence" but was sensational, and the view from our table was absolutely spectacular.
the end of it and left refreshed, only to hear a magnificent choir singing in the Duomo as we pased. I don't think we even got out of the market car park before the children were asleep, and it was after midnight when we got home to Asciano, but it was a wonderful day.
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