3 days in Florence

Florence Travel Blog

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Inside of the Duomo dome
Florence has been a whirlwind of sightseeing, eating, drinking wine, more eating, drinking more wine, walking miles and miles, and finally lots of wine drinking. I’m a bit behind on my writing (maybe because of the wine?) so I’m going to do a three days in one blog entry.  :-)

Day 1

As I mentioned in the last entry, the overnight train from Zurich to Florence was a pleasure. It was one of the more restful nights I have had over here and I arrived alert and ready for action.

The bed and breakfast I am staying at is on the top floor of a strange little building about 10 minutes (walking) away from the train station and 15 minutes from the heart of the city.
Looking back into the Duomo from the bottom of the dome
It’s cheap, very clean, and the owner speaks English quite well. The only drawback is that the elevator is really tiny, and rather scary. I could just barely fit myself and one suitcase, and after you shut all the doors by hand and push one of the easily 50 year old buttons it grinds and wheezes its way up to the top.  

After checking in around 8am and grabbing a quick shower it was time to figure out what to do. The guide book I am using is one specifically on Florence and Tuscany by Rick Steves, and is very well written. He has a list of recommended sights/times for a 3 day Florence trip, and I decided to use that schedule as a rough guide but to mix it up to suite my mood.

I started out with a nice walk over to the Accademia (Michelangelo’s David) where I decided the line was way to long to wait in, so I made a reservation for the next morning and kept on walking.
Climbing up to the top of the Duomo dome
I was pretty much walking around lost at this point, even though I had a map. Florence is a maze of tall buildings, narrow streets, and lots of changing street names. I ended up stumbling upon the Duomo (cathedral) which is a huge building, but everything is packed in so tight that it’s possible to get quite near it without even seeing it.

The line up to the top of the dome was very short so I decided to give it a shot. The interior of the dome is just amazing, and the fresco ceiling is beautiful. However, I can’t imagine going to the top of the dome in the summer time. It is 463 narrow twisting steps to the top, with a break about 3/4's of the way up with a walk around a narrow ledge at the base of the dome itself, overlooking the interior of the cathedral. It would be a hot, sweating, and I’m sure rather smelly crawl up.
View from the top of the Duomo dome


Once out on top, the 360 degree view of the city is great, and since there is just a very low railing there is nothing to get in the way of taking pictures. I spent about 45 minutes at the top just hanging out and taking in the view. I ended up taking pictures for many different people, mostly couples, which would prove to become a common theme throughout my stay in Florence. I think they see the big camera hanging from my neck and think that it’s a pretty good bet that I wouldn’t mind taking the photo, it would turn out ok, and I wouldn’t run off with their camera.  :-)

After the dome I walked down to and across the Ponte Vecchio bridge which is almost 100% covered with gold and silver jewelry shops. They have some very nice items for sale, and the prices seemed to be very reasonable.
Me on top of the Duomo dome
I walked southeast down along the Arno river for about 4 miles until I realized I was starving and there wasn’t much out there in the way of food.  I crossed back over the river and made my way back into the center of town, where I ate at small takeaway sandwich shop, where I had a huge pile of prosciutto and fresh mozzarella on a toasted roll.

Feeling full and somewhat sleepy I made my way down past the Uffizi and to the Science Museum. This museum turned out to be one of my favorites as it is not crowded at all and they have an amazing array of old science stuff. The collection contains everything from old wooden globes, quadrants, and astrolabes, to Galileo’s telescope, and his middle finger bone in a jar! I spent well over two hours in there and probably only took a detailed look at 40% of the collection.
Little boy fishing at the Bargello


By this point I was really sleepy so I had a typical Tuscan dinner, a nice bottle of Chianti and crashed out around 8:30pm.

Day 2

I started the second day by going to the Accademia at 8:30am, and it was really quiet inside which was great. As you walk inside and turn the corner you get this incredible view of the David lit from above by a dome/skylight. I’ve seen lots of pictures, and even some near full size reproductions, but nothing prepared me for how beautiful this statue is in person. The strength conveyed, pose, and finish detail are amazing, and I’m sure
I spent at least 45 minutes hanging around in that hallway viewing it from every angle.

Other than the David there wasn’t a whole lot else there of interest to me, so the next stop was the Bargello.
Inside the
There is a really nice courtyard there where photography is allowed, and I spent a good hour just hanging around and watching the light change the view of the different sculptures. The interior is amazing, and has one of the best collections of sculptures that I have ever seen.

After the Bargello I wandered around the shopping districts for a bit, there is an amazing amount of leather goods for sale here. The women appeared to be in shoe/purse heaven, and the prices were very cheap for some of the items.

I ended up back at the Uffizi square, and I noticed that the sun was getting close to hitting the head of the David reproduction they have there. I sat patiently for about half an hour as the sun slowly made its way down the wall towards his head and arms. Just as the sun hit the top and I pulled the camera out for a great shot, two fat pigeons landed on top and started basking in the sun.
The David at the Uffizi square
  @#$@#@#%@#   I thought about throwing something up at them, but then had visions of getting arrested or fined, so I tried to take most of the shots with the pigeons against the blue sky, so I can easily edit them out later.   
 
I hung around there until it was time for my 4pm Uffizi reservation, and wow the reservation system is great here.  I strolled past a line of well over a thousand people and walked right in. I guess they don’t know about making reservations, but I can’t imagine waiting 3 hours in line in the winter time, let alone in the summer.

The Uffizi is a magical place, and overall probably the best museum I have ever visited. I liked it much more than the Louvre, mainly because they only let 600 people in at a time. The paintings were great, but the Greek and Roman sculptures were my favorite part.
The David at the Uffizi square


After the Uffizi I went to a small little restaurant hidden away on a side street that was recommended to me by the guidebook. I was seated near the door, and noticed another woman eating alone as well in front of me. She heard my bad Italian and American accent and turned around to ask if she could join me.

It turns out that she was a Radiation Oncologist from a small town in New Hampshire, and we got along quite well. Next thing I knew it was 2:30am, and we had polished off over 2 bottles of wine easy. The walk back towards my hotel early in the morning was rather exciting due to the questionable areas that had to be crossed, but I made it back in one piece.

Day 3

Wow lack of sleep and way too much wine is starting to have an impact on me.
Sunset over the Ponte Vecchio bridge
I spent most of the day hanging around drinking coffee and trying to stay awake. It was Saturday now and Florence was getting slammed with large crowds of tourists walking all over the place.  I did go to the Duomo museum and check out the early models for the dome and the original facade which was neat to see. 

I had a nice dinner out with the Oncologist and her friends and then made it an early night back to the hotel.

Now it’s on to Pisa and Rome for the last part of my trip…
 
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Inside of the Duomo dome
Inside of the Duomo dome
Looking back into the Duomo from t…
Looking back into the Duomo from …
Climbing up to the top of the Duom…
Climbing up to the top of the Duo…
View from the top of the Duomo dome
View from the top of the Duomo dome
Me on top of the Duomo dome
Me on top of the Duomo dome
Little boy fishing at the Bargello
Little boy fishing at the Bargello
Inside the
Inside the
The David at the Uffizi square
The David at the Uffizi square
The David at the Uffizi square
The David at the Uffizi square
Sunset over the Ponte Vecchio brid…
Sunset over the Ponte Vecchio bri…
More Uffizi square goodies
More Uffizi square goodies
1,562 km (971 miles) traveled
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photo by: monky