“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” – Michelangelo
Time to see the sights!
First stop, the Uffizi to see one of my favorite paintings; Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus.” At 8:45am there was already a line, so after my impatience got the best of me, I thought I would attempt to make a same day reservation (we weren’t able to yesterday). Success! We have a reservation at 10:30. We jump out of line and head to the other side of town to the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens. It is early enough that we nearly have this massive lush garden to ourselves! This large sprawling garden had tons of turns and trails. Interspersed were statues, fountains, and small ponds. We strolled the maze for about an hour and got lost in the endless turns. It was so peaceful though. We joked that they had the sound of birds piped through speakers to add that spring touch, but nope…it was really the birds chirping! Haha. After finding our way, we headed up to the palace and were greeted with more sprawling open yards and statues and yet another amazing view of Florence.
Rushing back to catch our reservation at the Uffizi, back across the Ponte Vecchio, I finally arrive in the Botticelli wing of the museum and see my painting. It’s gorgeous, just like I thought it would be. They, of course, forbid me to take a picture. Oh well…I guess a couple of things will have to remain in my memory only. Strolling through Botticelli’s masterpieces, I came across others that I loved and/or recognized, but didn’t know they were in the Uffizi. I was so thoughtful wandering among so many masterpieces, many commissioned by the Medici’s.
After the Uffizi we walked a bit of distance to the Piazza Michelangelo, where we were told there were amazing views of Florence. We earned the views (like everywhere in Europe) with an uphill hike, but it was so worth it! This is absolutely the most beautiful panoramic view of Florence that can possibly exist. I could even see the hills of Tuscany in the distance.
Back down, across the Ponte Vecchio again, (for the fourth time; each time with bigger crowds) and we arrive at the Duomo. It is a completely different place than the evening I had it to (almost) myself after getting lost. Tourists and school groups flood the piazza. We decide not to waste our day in line; I am more fascinated by the outside architecture so I’m satisfied. Back across the bridge to the Pitti Palace since we only saw the gardens earlier and not the inside. I was amused to see couples and young groups of friends lying around on the vast stone plaza in front of the palace…like it was a beach or a grassy park. Some were even sunbathing. Haha. On the way we happened across the Piazza della Signora beneath the clock tower! This fantastic square was filled with replicas of other famous statues around Italy as well as tons of people enjoying the day.
After all the walking, we figured we had earned some gelato at the supposedly famous GROM. Struggling through the crowds near the Duomo, we head to the Accademia to see the statue of David. My guidebook recommended going an hour before it closes to avoid lines and crowds. It was great advice! We walked right in and enjoyed the masterpiece that is Michelangelo’s David with only a handful of other admirers. I was stunned by the David. I wasn’t expecting to be, but I also wasn’t expecting such a giant statue. The detail was intricate and it truly deserves all the praise it receives. The proportions, detail, and muscle definition were perfection; down to the veins in his hand! How in the world did he create this perfect form out of a giant block of marble?! I stared at it and admired it endlessly. I am SO happy I saw this. I am starry-eyed and in love with Florence.
Exhausted from all the walking today, we grab wine and a piece of pizza to enjoy at the hotel, giving us some downtime before we go out to enjoy our final night, Friday night, in Florence.
The night was so fun. Being lame and having an altered concept of time, I was unable to connect with my friend, Daniele, that lives in Florence. I kept forgetting to email him now that I had arrived! We ended up at a fun bar where I met a bunch of locals, including a very nice, very cute, Italian guy. He spoke barely a lick of English and I spoke, of course, only the key phrases in Italian. Surprisingly, we “talked” all night. There was a lot of gesturing, a lot of “non capisco” being said, and a bit of Spanish between the two of us. I had a fun time with it. I think we English speakers are spoiled in Europe since so many people speak the language…we should be forced to learn more of the local language to get by. That being said…I am VERY thankful for the plethora of languages Europeans speak. Thankful…and jealous.
Tomorrow we leave for Sorrento in Southern Italy. The Almafi Coast!