Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Italy for the New Year {Florence-Day 2}

On December 30th, I had a 9:20 a.m. train from Milan to Florence.  I took a cab to Milano Centrale and arrived in plenty of time.  I don't want to stress about missing my train.  I always buy timed train tickets prior to traveling, so if I miss my train, I'm out the money for my ticket.  So I always arrive early to ensure I don't feel rushed, and have time to figure out the system, find the platforms, etc.

Milano Centrale really is the prettiest train station I visited
(Biglietteria = Ticket Office)
I arrived in Florence at 10:59.  I took a cab to my hotel (more on hotel at the end of the post).  I was able to check in early, which is always nice to get your bags settled prior to heading out.

I was going to be in Florence on the 30th, 31st, and 1st, but I had scheduled a tour out to Tuscany on the 31st, and the 1st had massive closures due to the holiday.  So the 30th was a day to hit the ground running, and see as many things that required admission as possible.

I had purchased tickets to the Uffizi and the Accademia in advance.  They were timed tickets (which I don't love), but I had to be at the Uffizi at 2:00, and the Accademia at 5:30.  I needed to see both of those on the 30th, because both had indicated a closure on NY Day.  

I headed out to see the Duomo first.  

I walked around in awe for a few minutes, and then reminded myself of my mission statement for the day:  "See the inside stuff today.  Come back on the 1st and admire the architecture"

I wanted to see the inside of the church, the church's museum, and ideally, I wanted to climb the bell tower (you can climb the dome also, but it's a million steps and I read it was "claustrophobic" so no thanks to that).  There was a crazy line to buy tickets with cash, so I tried to buy at a computer kiosk.  This was problematic: the dome and tower tickets were sold out for the day, and then my card didn't work in the kiosk (This is a common occurrence with kiosks in Europe with our credit cards.  In Europe the chip cards have pins, ours don't, so often they don't work).  I quickly made friends with a nice guy and got him to buy my ticket with his card, and I paid him cash, so I could skip the long lines and get on about my business.

I went to the Duomo Museum Tour first.  The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo contains all of the "stuff" from the Duomo.  Over the years, these items have been moved to the museum to protect them.  You can see items dating back to the 1200's.  It's pretty remarkable.  

 I loved this beautiful mosaic 

The Duomo baptistry doors were moved to the museum to preserve them, while copies have been put on the actual baptistry.  The originals were created by Lorenzo Ghiberti and he began working on them in 1401.

 The museum is located behind the Duomo, so I admired the back side of the church as I headed to my next stop.
I walked down to the Arno River, and walked to the Ponte Vecchio.  Then, the next stop was the Uffizi.  Even though I had pre-purchased skip the line tickets, I still had to wait in a couple of lines.

Once inside, I walked up the 4 long flights of stairs and then admired the beautiful ceilings.

Duccio's Madonna
The Botticellis were what I was most excited to see at the Uffizi...

 Birth of Venus
 They were stunning!
There is a pretty awesome view of the Ponte Vecchio & Arno from the Uffizi...
 I stopped at the Cafe for a not great mid-afternoon snack, but you can't beat the view.

You can see the crazy lines to get in...
I walked back toward the Duomo area, and passed Santa Croce on my walk.
 Someone was blowing giant bubbles there in the Piazza Santa Croce.

 The baptistry of the Duomo and the Gilberti doors (the copies).

Lots of military at the Duomo and similar protections in the courtyard of the Uffizi as well

 Doors of the Duomo
 Finally, I got to go inside the Duomo...
 The Duomo is pretty bare inside, but the painted dome is a WOWSA.

 Nativity outside of the Duomo

I walked to the Galleria dell'Accademia next.  I'm sure there are lots of great things to see there, but I focused exclusively on Michelangelo's work.  

"The Prisoners" are all unfinished works by Michelangelo.  They are fascinating because they show the process of his sculpting...

 The unfinished Pieta
 In my opinion, David, is something you see that turns out to be better than you even expected.  Few things live up to that standard.
 It is 17 feet tall!  And that detail!
 In 1501, a 26 year old Michelangelo was commissioned and given a block of marble other sculptors had rejected because it was "too tall, shallow, and flawed" to be of any value.  Amazing.

I walked back to my hotel after seeing David.  My hotel in Florence was the Hotel Cellai, a boutique hotel.  It was my favorite hotel of the trip.
I didn't take any photos of the common areas of the hotel, but there are lots of great spots to sit and rest your feet after a long day of walking (photos from the hotel's website)...

My room was another single.

Again, it was a blind booking off of Hotwire, but it was a good hotel.  The location was very good.  The room was comfortable, and it came with a good free breakfast. 

Thanks for reading about my first day in Florence
Stay tuned for Day 3 of my trip...to Tuscany!



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