We had arranged to explore Florence together so up bright and early (well 9am is bright and early for us) and headed into to Florence just before ten.
Florence, a Renaissance city in the heart of Tuscany, has some of Italy’s best museums, beautiful cathedrals and churches, and interesting streets and squares with elegant buildings and shops. It is one of the most popular travel cities in Italy
Today was Tuesday and largest market of Florence is on at the Cascine, located outside the city walls. So we found it on the map and it was quite a long way but we can see some of the sights on the walk there and some on the way back.
First back up to the Piazzale Michelangelo which is next to the campground and offers magnificent panoramic views of Florence and the Arno valley. The path down into the city also starts from here.
Down to the banks of the Arno river and to the Ponte Vecchio. The Ponte Vecchio (old bridge), built in 1345, was Florence’s first bridge across the Arno River and is the only surviving bridge from Florence’s medieval days (others were destroyed in World War II). The Ponte Vecchio is still lined with shops selling gold and silver jewelry.
One of the things to do in Florence is to try the different flavours of gelati. After trying 3 of the flavours ( only 60 to go) we our way along the city side bank of the Arno river to the Cascine markets.
The Cascine market was the longest single street market we had ever seen. It sold a wide variety of goods however what struck us the most was how cheap the Italian clothing was. We all had a great time tasting the different foods on sale and the market stalls were being dismantled while Trish and Dani were still checking out the many ladies clothing stalls. It was well after 1pm before we caught the local light rail train back into town.
We chanced upon Florence’s most popular site the Duomo (cathedral), the Cattedrale de Santa Maria del Fiore. This huge Gothic duomo was begun in 1296, consecrated in 1436, and holds 20,000 people. We joined the queue which gave us some time to admire Its exterior, made of green, pink, and white marble, we reached the front of the queue after only 15 minutes or so. The cathedral has several elaborate doors and interesting statues. Inside, Brunelleschi’s Dome is a masterpiece of construction.
We had lunch and vino in Alla Griglia a small restaurant we happened to be passing. We used the map to find Florence’s most famous square, the Piazza della Signoria, the heart of the historic center and a free open-air sculpture exhibit.
A must see is the Uffizi Gallery and it took us a little while before we stumbled across it as well.
The Galleria degli Uffizi holds the world’s most important collection of Renaissance art but it’s also Italy’s most crowded museum even the map advised that it is a good idea to buy tickets ahead to avoid long ticket lines.
It was around 4:30pm by the time we got there, the gallery closes at 7pm. There was no queue for tickets and they were much cheaper so late in the afternoon. We decided that it was worth going in as we would only be able to take a couple of hours of renaissance art anyway!
No photos allowed in the Uffizi there website is http://www.uffizi.org
The first hour was a bit on the droll side but as we walked around we noticed paintings we knew of having seen them on postage stamps and in magazines. The Uffizi holds thousands of paintings from medieval to modern times and many antique sculptures, illuminations, and tapestries. Artists whose works we saw included Michelangelo, Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino, and Raphael.
As we walked around the exhibits our appreciation for the Renaissance art grew and after an hour or so we found many paintings that we simply enjoyed exploring some of the less obvious content in the background detail. Then it seemed in no time at all we were being asked to leave!!
We made our way out of the city, over the river and back up to Piazzale Michelangelo to finish the day looking over the city at sunset.