I knew it was Sunday morning when the music in the streets finally stopped and I was able to close my eyes. Of course it wasn’t long after that my alarm went off. I’ll never really understand why Italians play music in the street until the wee hours of the morning. I took to a caffe around the corner from our hotel. We weren’t that close to all the touristic areas so you can imagine my surprise when I paid six euro for a cappuccino and pastry.
Even though I regretted going there it was nice to catch a break from the girls I was traveling with. It also gave me time to plan out our day. After all, I was the self designated travel guide and had to be on top of my game.
Our first stop was an 8:15 a.m. visit to one of the largest, most comprehensive galleries in the world, the Uffizi. The Palazzo degli Uffizi brought together under one roof the administrative offices, the Tribunal and the state archive (Archivio di Stato).
The project that was planned by Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany to arrange that prime works of art in the Medici collections on the piano nobile was effected by Francis I of Tuscany, who commissioned from Buontalenti the famous Tribuna degli Uffizi that united a selection of the outstanding masterpieces in the collection in an ensemble that was a star attraction of the Grand Tour.
I looked at paintings and sculptures from some of the most renowned painters of their time including Michelangelo, Rafael, Donatello, and more. From romantic to Gothic to renaissance to mannerism – all works of art were on display. I couldn’t believe my eyes. To be standing in front of priceless art was magical. You just cant put a price on this gallery. Its impossible. I was trying to imagine what it would have been like to live in the same era as some of the great painters I mentioned above but I cant. I did however feel so special and so warm inside the longer I spent in the gallery because of how historical and beautiful it is.
After the gallery we soaked up the sun in Piazza Signoria and Loggia dei Lanza where Giombologna’s “Rape of the Sabine Women,” Cellini’s “Perseus’ victory over Medusa,” and a copy of Michelangelo’s “David” sit here Fontana del Nettuno is also located here.
This piazza is unsurprisingly crowded during the day. We made our way toward the Museo dell Opera del Duomo to look at the loot from Collection of works of art from the sacred complex of the Florence Cathedral , Baptistery and Giotto’s bell tower, with a core of important Gothic and Renaissance statuary.
Ghiberti’s doors and Donatello’s Magdalene were the main attractions here. The doors were constructed in the 14th century I think. He beat out Brunelleschi, architect of the Duomo and cupola in a competition. Donatello sculpture is one of the most magnificent wooden masterpieces ever constructed. The incredible detail on the statue is apparent. The wood is sculpted so well and painted with a bronze that made her glisten in the light. It really gave it so much detail.
The Academia Gallery carries the same reputation for being inspiring and transcendental. Of course the most eye popping attraction here is the David but there are other works of art worth noting. One that stood out to me is the plaster model for Giambologna’s “Rape of the Sabine Women.”
It was nice to see finished projects in each gallery, but I learned not to underestimate the process an artist takes. For example, Michelangelo once said that he saw the statue inside the marble and he would carve until he hit the “skin” so to speak. His David is so wonderfully crafted that I can see why the original sits in a museum under close surveillance. His David was inspired by his wish to portray David as an intellectual. He thought that David used his mind to defeat Goliath and so he is represented in a very pensive pose, not like the traditional image of him stepping on Goliath’s head.
A quick lunch at the Astor cafe, an American burger joint near the Duomo was painful. I was surrounded by American study abroad students talking only about how drunk they got last night and how they don’t remember how they got home. It was sick.
We went in to the Duomo, which looks a lot like Siena’s, as I mentioned above and it was nothing special or new to me. I know that sounds bad to say, but when you have seen as many of these as I have over the past couple of months, they all start to look the same. So you start looking for details that name each Duomo unique instead. What I felt made this one different was its stunning cupola painted by Giorgio Vasari.
I also lit a candle for my grandfather as I have gotten in the habit of doing in every city I stop in. Its my way of bringing him along for the ride with me. I chose to climb the 436-step campanile tower afterwards while the girls went shopping. It was a cramped ascent, but the the panoramic view from the top was breath taking. I really wanted to see the infamous red roofs of Italy from a high point. I felt like Ezio Auditore da Firenze once again as I stood freely atop the highest climbable point in Italy.
Luckily I beat the rain and was able to take pictures and enjoy the view before the rain got the best of the tourists like myself. I think it would have been nice to spend a week in Florence but that was not possible and wont be for a long time. I saw what I wanted to see and felt what I wanted to feel. Its a trip I wouldn’t replace with anything.
Thank you Florence for making yet another travel experience a great one.