Our day started with a visit to the Galleria degli Uffizi. Our plan was to get there early so as to avoid the torrent of tourist buses/cruise ships. We joined the relatively small queue but had to jump ship as the PDF Voucher on our phone would not download in time before it was our turn.
Back in the queue with Voucher downloaded and we were away. Tickets in hand we then joined another relatively small queue to enter the museum and just beat a group of Japanese tourists by the slimmest of margins. All going to plan beautifully.
The building of the Uffizi was first a palace begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’ Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates — hence the name “uffizi” (“offices”). Over the years, further parts of the palace evolved into a display place for many of the paintings and sculpture collected by the Medici family or commissioned by them. The gallery had been open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century, and in 1765 it was officially opened to the public.
The Museum houses works by Di Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Botticelli and Caravaggio to name a few. A wonderful collection of art showcasing the best Florence has to offer but Hugh and I have declared that this may well be our last Museum visit for our European trip as Hugh especially, believes he has seen more paintings of Christ and the Madonna than the painters themselves. After 2 hours we were done and in much need of a coffee.
For lunch we re visited a Market from yesterday’s food tour to grab a famous Panini Bollito, a Pasta Duro style bread roll with warm beef, salsa erbe and chilli, absolutely delicious and all for €3.50!!
Dutifully replenished we tackled the Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore, the main church of Florence. The basilica is one of Italy’s largest churches, and until development of new structural materials in the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed.
Once again we joined the queue and surprisingly were inside the Duomo within 10 minutes, unheard of!!
From the outside this Duomo looks enormous so Hugh and I had great expectations of what it must look like inside. I even had my €5 ready to finally light the biggest candle I could find for Hughy.
Grossly overdue if you ask him.
I must say, upon entering the inside we were a little underwhelmed. It was quite dark, drab and had very minimal windows displaying the traditional lead lighting. Suffice to say I kept my €5 for another day, we had a look around and exited 10 minutes later. Around the corner we decided to join yet another queue to climb to the top of the dome. After 10 minutes with no movement and at least 100 people in front of us, and an expect wait of 1 hour, we abandoned ship and went in search an ice cold drink to escape the heat.
Back to the room for a couple of ‘Pre’s then off again to the Piazzale Michelangelo, which is situated in the Gardens of Florence, and gives you fabulous panoramic views of the city.
We had both imagined this place to be like the botanical gardens with views overlooking the city. After climbing the many steep stairs and arriving at the gardens we were dismayed to see a car park with souvenir sellers lining footpath and a cast of thousands along the barriers. So much for our romantic notion.
We managed to take a few photos as the sun was setting over Florence and once it had disappeared a round of applause ensued and everyone started to make their way back down the stairs.
We came across a groovy bar on our way back to the main Piazza so stopped in to finally enjoy a Spritzer, a drink enjoyed all over Europe as an Aperitif but tonight we were going to enjoy it as a digestive!! So refreshing.
Onward to the Piazza to listen to a USA Youth Orchestra for half an hour before heading home to rest up before we continue our journey onto Lucca.