Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Italy, Florence {day 5}

Having planned only one full day in Florence, I was excited to wake up and go! We were pretty sure we weren't going to go to the Uffizi Gallery, purely because of time and a slight renaissance-artwork-overload. And after weighing up the Medici chapel and the Medici Palace, we decided to head to the palace just because one of the two had to win. 

We set off at about 9am and were surprised by the quietness of the streets, but enjoyed being able to stand back and look at things. The quietness of the courtyard at the Palazzo Vecchio and the Loggia dei Lanzi was enjoyable and we had a crowd-less moment to notice the beauty (and gruesomeness, in the case of some statues...) of the things themselves.

We went further down the quiet streets and found ourselves passing by the Piazza della Repubblica, admiring the carousel.

We arrived at the Medici Palace, and thought for a moment that we were at the wrong place, simply because there was nobody outside. We walked in and upon seeing that we could go straight to the counter, hesitated for a moment - is a place with no ridiculous queue worth seeing? We stuck with the plan though, and went inside to explore.

We entered a multi-media room where one could learn more about the paintings in the Chapel of the Magi. One could select a character from a painting and find out more about it. Buuut, remember that renaissance-artwork-overload I mentioned? It made for little interest in hearing so much info about each detail on the paintings. However, on entering the chapel, I really wished we had listened to a little more. I took hardly any photos, but the atmosphere in the richly painted chapel, surrounded by paintings brimming with detail and overwhelming such a small room was incredible. Wouldn't mind the wall behind our sofa painted like this...

We walked through the rest of the palace, and the intricate and golden ceilings kept us ooh-ing and ahh-ing... and yet... it wasn't what we expected from the Medici's. The ceilings were mostly impressive... but maybe we're just spoiled (Thanks, Palace Schoenbrunn, Austria) but it seemed a little run down and empty.

That said, the seating in the hall was inviting and the ceiling so beautiful that we did spend a lot of time looking at it. I was very grateful for Malcolm's memory and knowledge and ability to be able to explain a surprising amount of what's going on in the images.

After visiting the palace, we decided to use our tickets from the bell-tower to visit the other places included in the ticket. Our plans were foiled when we got to Piazza del Duomo and those renovations that are going on? The scaffolding? Yeah... that's where we have entrance to. Except we don't. Because they're closed. So, back-up plan! The Market that everybody raves about! Not happening today. What about a different market? At Santa Spirito?

The Santa Spirito Market was not there. Defeated, we sat by a fountain and considered what else we could do on a Sunday afternoon. We wandered a little further and came across the Palazzo Pitti... we poked around a little and decided to go home, eat something, and come back later.

So, after lunch we planned ahead and went to All'Antico Vinaio to get a sandwich for a picnic later in the gardens. We got lucky and we didn't need to wait long at all before we set off to the Palazzo Pitti and the Boboli Gardens, where we also had no line to wait in. Our ticket granted us access to various things, so we started at the costume museum, where we lingered extra-long by the air-con while admiring pretty dresses...

Once finished there, we headed out into the gardens. It was probably the hottest day we'd experienced there, and after a while meandering along the paths, we were tired and there was a rather strong smell of cheese coming from my bag alerting us to the fact that it was indeed suppertime. We're so classy. We had a rather early supper-picnic overlooking the gardens and lay on the grass until it cooled down a little...

Feeling revived, we walked further into the gardens and found the porcelain museum. It's high on a hill, and one has a spectacular view over the hills. The wind picked up and became rather blustery and I clung onto my dress as the view became hazy. It was beautiful though, and perhaps one of my favourite views during our time in Florence. 
Going into the museum though, it was stuffy and hot and I lost any interest I had in porcelain in favour of getting outside again. 

As the wind blew harder and we heard thunder rolling, we strolled down the hill, taking the wiggly path through the park. We found some pretty spots and interesting statues. Right at the bottom, we found a pond with an island in it, unfortunately surrounded by a gate...

Rain seemed imminent and after finally finding a fountain to refill our water-bottles, we said goodbye to the Adam and Eve statue and made our way back to the other side of the river. We knew we'd missed out on something that our ticket entitled us to, but we weren't sure anymore what it was... a quick google search today shows me we missed out on the Medici Treasury. Womp womp.

From the bridge we could see the Piazza Michelangelo, well known for it's view over Florence. But, we could mostly see how many people were there, and after a long, hot, somewhat frustrating day, we decided that a stroll through the city and watching the clouded sun set behind Il Duomo was a less exhausting option.
The Dome is really impressive, and with the technology used to invent it, it's worth spending some time on Youtube getting informed on the pain-staking process!

As we left the piazza in search of an evening-view of the Medici Chapel exterior, some Gelato (cinnamon and dark chocolate for me, and cinnamon and pistaccio for Malcolm) from Edoardo made for a good treat. The experience proved to us that all gelato is not made equal, and this was just delicious.
It was surprising how quiet the Piazza del Duomo was, especially in comparison to the lively atmosphere as we sat on a step listening to buskers by the Medici chapel.

On our way back to our apartment for our last night in beautiful Florence, we passed by Il Duomo again, and got a look at it by night. This giant seems to always look magnificent!

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