16 July, 2013
I slept good after my headache went away, and woke up at 0600 this morning, to pack things back up and get ready to head out. We had breakfast (cappuccino and a brioche) and talked to the man running our temp hotel. We stopped by the original hotel, and he promised that they would go pick up our bags today so we can move back where we were supposed to stay.
So, we headed out – our first destination was Brunelleschi’s Dome! We got our tickets, and arrived at the door at 0820, 10 minutes before opening – we beat the crowd!! The climb up was hard, I can’t lie! 463 steps = One heck of a cardio workout and not much air. I can’t imagine attempting that climb in the hot afternoon with tons of people!! We stopped to rest a few times, but finally made it out at the top. As we got to the top of the climb, the steps got narrower and became a tight spiral – that was the hardest part of the climb! What a view!! We sat on a bench in the shade up on the dome (I forget what you call the top part of the dome) for a while to catch our breath and let my heart stop beating out of my chest. I took a lot of photos and walked around a few times, in NO hurry to begin the climb back down. I found a random guy from England and asked him to take our picture - he did a great job, too. The climb back down was a piece of cake, compared to going up. The narrow stairs forced us to keep both hands on the (grimy) handrail or walls. I wonder how many millions of hands touched them before this morning. I wished I’d taken hand sanitizer with me!
The dome conquered, we headed across the Arno River to the Pitti Palace, which contains the Palatine Gallery. Paintings by Raphael, Titan and Lippi were awesome. There were just SO many paintings (walls were practically wallpapered with paintings), I found myself scanning the metal plates for names I know instead of looking at the picture. Mostly portraits or biblical scenes.
By then we were ready for a break and lunch. We found a tiny alimentary not far from the Palace that was mentioned in Rick Steve’s Florence book and decided to give it a try. We had anti pasta, a plate with various cold cuts –salami, prosciutto, etc and cheese and bread. One thing that neither of us cared for was a slice of lard (fat) – ewwww! We had cold peach tea, which was awesome!
So, off to our next adventure – the Bargello. Built in 1255, originally Florence’s Town Hall that also served as a police station and a prison. This was on my definite “Must See” list; mainly because of Donatello’s bronze David. It was amazing! We also saw several of Michelangelo’s sculptures, like Baccus and David/Apollo (not THE David, yet)
Tony was whining by then “I’m tired!” so we started to the hotel, but decided to stop by the Baptistery and Duomo Museum first. The Baptistery is beautiful inside! The ceiling is a mosaic of gold -- I was allowed to take photos there, hopefully I got some good ones. The Duomo Museum was partially closed for renovations, but we saw the original Giberti’s doors that once hung in the Baptistery. They are amazing huge bronze doors with various scenes – I took lots of photos. We also saw Michelangelo’s last Pieta. I have lots of photos of it, too! I love when I can take pictures of these works, most museums do not allow photography, but the churches do.
We headed to the hotel, and found that they DID move our bags! This room is much nicer than the other hotel, even though it’s a 2-star and the other is a 3-star. I much prefer this hotel, and I really like the people who run it.
After resting for a couple of hours – Tony took a nap and I organized a few things, we headed out again. This time, we took our first bus ride up to San Miniato Church and Piazzale Michelangelo. According to legend, St. Minias was beheaded down on the banks of the Arno River in AD 250, and then he picked up his head and walked up the hill to this location. Honestly, if that had REALLY happened, I’m sure he would have bled to death after walking up the hill and getting his heartrate up before getting here ;-) He was buried in what became the first Christian cemetery in Florence. It overlooks the town of Florence, allowing some awesome landscape/cityscape photography. I guess I took too many photos, because just as we were about to enter the door, a Monk came out and said they had to close ☹. We walked down the hill to Pizzale Michelangelo, another plaza that overlooks the city. A tourist filled area with a HUGE statue of Michelangelo’s David (I think it’s bronze though, and it’s got a great green patina). By the time we got here, we were both starving and decided to get some food, and THEN shoot the sunset.
We walked back down the hill instead of waiting for a bus, and found a great pizzeria called I’Pizzacchiere. We had a large “White Tiger” pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella, and ham. Pizza here is nothing like Dominos – the crust is really good, not over sauced or filled with lots of crap.
After dinner, we walked across the Arno River at sunset, so I could get some photos of Ponte Vecchio with the sun reflecting in the water (and a fisherman in a boat as well!) On the way home, we stopped for gelato at a different gelateria. This time, I had Mango, and Tony had Banana and Strawberry. Just like ice cold fresh fruit! So good.
We’re back in our hotel, not going to bed at 5:30 this time. Actually, it’s 11:00 and we’re both still up. It’s off to bed soon, because we have a busy day planned tomorrow with an early start. Up first – Uffizi Museum, starring Botticelli (Birth of Venus, and Primavera).