Today was day 3 of our Italy trifecta, our final day in this lovely country. Again, we were met at the pier at 8am by Euan, our driver from Your Tour in Italy. The drive in to Florence took a good hour and a half, during which we enjoyed the varying scenery of the countryside. Euan narrated a bit for us, allowing us to imagine how much more beautiful it would be in the summer when the many sunflowers are in bloom, or in the fall when the grape leaves are turning colors. It was a fine view today, just not quite like the many paintings you see of the region with their gorgeous colors and multitude of flower blooms.
Arriving in the city , it was impressive to see the old Roman walls, as well as one of the remaining city gates (there were originally 12). We went up onto a hill where we were able to look out onto the city and get a feel for her layout, as well as take some beautiful photos.
Down the hill we went to visit our first site, the church of Santa Croce. The white exterior of the building is rich in detail, and quite beautiful. It was refreshing to walk inside and see a church not quite so ornately decorated as those at the Vatican. Still beautiful, but in a more subdued manner. We perused the building that also serves as an important memorial site for important Italians. Here we viewed the tributes to Michelangelo, DaVinci, Machiavelli, Fermi and more. Outside, in the piazza, we checked out a few vendors selling purses, as Florence is known for her leather goods. I found a purse I really liked, but being the first stop of the day I decided not to get it.
We had a reservation to enter the Accademia and view the statue of David at noon. However, Euan thought that perhaps he could get us in a little early, so we went there next. The line was hideously long, so we were thankful once again to be in the special line for tour guides. Euan went in to get our tickets, and within 10 minutes we were inside the building. (A couple eating dinner near us this evening said that they went and there was a 4 hour wait, so they skipped it. Wow!)
My hubby and I are not art aficionados, but try to see the big, well known pieces when we travel. Therefore, we skimmed the galleries in the Accademia, checking out a few pieces here and there as they appealed to us. I must admit that it was inspiring to see Michelangelo’s unfinished servants. They are figures that are half carved out of stone, incomplete and with excess marble remaining. They really spoke to me about the amazing process creating a sculpture is. If I tried to do it, I would start with a huge block and end up with something the size of a pea, never able to get it quite right.
I have to say that nothing prepared me for the reality of seeing the statue of David before me. When we turned the corner, saw the huge likeness above the crowd, the light shining down from the skylight overhead, it was breathtaking. You see, in pictures and books, there is just nothing to show the perspective of how large it is. Also, when we got up close to the statue, the amount of detail was amazing. To see veins in his hands, and dimples in his elbows, there is the sense that Michelangelo brought David to life in stone. He is incredibly realistic and beautiful.
In fact, David so incredible, that everything else in the museum paled in comparison. We strolled through a few of the galleries, but could not take our minds off the beauty of David. Before we left, we lingered a little longer to just reflect on and enjoy this incredible piece of art. No trip to Florence is complete without visiting David in the Accademia.
The Piazza Del Duomo was our next stop, home to the cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore. It is the fourth largest church in the world (we’ve been to 3 of the 4 now), and is quite famous for its dome. The outside is quite unique, as it is made of pink, white and green marble. The detail is exquisite, with each marble panel having its own intricate design. There is also the baptistry, with its famous bronze and gold doors, which Michelangelo called the gates to Paradise. We went inside for a few minutes, to see the famed interior of the dome.
Our group followed the street a bit further down, passing through the courtyard of the Uffizi gallery and to the edge of the Arno River. We strolled along the river and across the Ponte Vecchio, an old bridge lined with exquisite jewelry shops. There is a great history to the bridge, and we were happy to traverse it, just to say we did. We then recrossed the river and worked our way back to our meeting point.
To end our day, we rubbed the boar statue’s nose. Legend says this means we'll return to Florence again, and we do hope that to be true.
Lisa is the travel loving, animal adoring, Mickey Mouse hugging owner of Dreams Delivered Travel.