I wasn't really expecting to be in Florence today at the start of this trip, but that's nothing new. I was quite happy to go, especially now that I've been to the Uffizi.
In case you didn't know, Italy has a lot of art. Florence is where the Renaissance started, after all. So they've got a good reason to be proud of all the art that their city has produced. The Uffizi is the largest gallery in town, and we found that out first hand. It was about a 15-minute walk from the train station to the Uffizi, but we got to admire the Arno River for a good part of that. Once we got to the Uffizi, we found out just how popular it was - I guess we waited in line for an hour to get in. I say "we," but really it was Eno who waited the whole time. Once she got our place, I went for a warm sandwich for me and a drink for her. Then a while later, I went to find a bathroom, but I ran into a parade of folks in medieval costumes that cut off any further advancement on my part.
So I went back and waited, and within 20 minutes, we were in.
This place was not disappointing. You have to start on the 2nd floor (there's no way to get to the 1st floor from the entrance on the ground floor without going through the 2nd floor first). We saw oodles of sculptures that lined both sides of the hall. The building has a U shape, so you go down one hall, cut across, and then head down the other side of the building. Once you get through with that floor, you move downstairs and take the opposite path through the 1st floor until you reach the obligatory gift shop (which is massive). The 2nd floor also has side rooms devoted mainly to paintings from the Renaissance masters - one for Botticelli, another for Leonardo (though most of his work has been lent to other museums at the moment), one for Michelangelo and his school, though I only saw one Michelangelo, etc. I was under the mistaken impression that the big "David" statue (by Donatello) was here, but it's at another museum in town. We actually had a lady stop and ask us, when she saw I had
a map, if I had seen the "David" and where it might be. After we got through looking in every room, I finally looked up online where it was - across town! More on that later.
The 1st floor was mainly paintings, much less on the sculptures. I'll admit that I admired the sculptures more - maybe they seem more "lifelike" to me. Most of the ceilings were just amazing. And there was one room where all the statues were either pointing up to the ceiling or looking at it (or both!). That was my favorite room, and I've included 2 pictures from that room (one of which shows the ceiling).
It was funny how you could tell what was meant to be "famous" or "important" - the largest crowds had gathered there! We didn't run into too many tour groups, but when we did, they tended to block the narrow corridors on the 1st floor or just get in the way of everybody else in the room who was trying to see one of those "important" works of art.
Once we finished there - about 2 hours later - I wanted to try and find the
"David" since it was so close. We had to walk by the Duomo, or the main church in Florence. It was massive, and I loved the green patterns that decorated the facade. We didn't go up in it, since we were short on time and money, but there were sufficient lines of visitors to make it less than appealing. About 3 blocks later, we found the museum that houses the "David," and we could tell, since there was another massive line out front. Entrance to that gallery cost as much as the Uffizi, and the line was about the same type as the Uffizi, too. I didn't really want to spend that much to see a single statue, so we skipped out on that. I guess that's a reason to come back to Florence.
We did find a little streetcorner bakery where we got lunch on the go. They had that same type of pizza that I had first found in Pisa - it's called a "sorrentina." Theirs was not nearly as satisfying as the ones I had in Pisa. We made our way to the train station and got to rest for about 45 minutes before our train
came to take us to Rome.
We had bought a special 2-for-1 ticket in Business Quiet class, which came with a free drink, too. It would've been a perfect trip (fast and comfortable), if the lady sitting next to me had not coughed the entire time. She was terribly self-conscious about it, though, so I felt bad for her. I didn't actually have a ticket for the seat next to her, but the guy who was sitting in my seat offered it to me, since it meant I would be sitting across from Eno instead of sitting across the aisle from her. I should've been more suspicious about his motives for giving up his seat for a seat with less leg-room. I was suspicious, to be honest, but the coughing lady wasn't there when we boarded. Alas.
We've checked into our B&B here in Rome, which is about 50 feet from the walls of the Vatican. We've walked across international borders 6 times this afternoon, I guess, on the way here and then going out to see what's going on in the area. I haven't included any pictures from Rome, since most of the day involved Florence, and
I thought I'd give it its own entry. I really liked Florence, and I do hope to go back one day.
But now I'm in the home stretch of this trip - my last city, my last hotel, my last train ride... It's hard to believe, but I'll be back in America on Thursday! But not before I conquer Rome!
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