Firenze: day two
So, after getting a good nights sleep, we woke up early for a new and busy day. After getting ready for the day we went to get some breakfast. We decided to do this at the Piazza del Duomo, looking towards the big Cathedral while Florence is waking up. In the northwest corner of the square is a coffee bar, where we got some coffee and pastry after which we set foot to Piazza della Signoria.
My mom bought a ‘Firenze Card’ before our trip. This is a pretty much all access pass for the major tourist attractions in Florence. Although a lot of them are for free like most churches and stuff, this pass will come in handy when visiting the museums. When we were there it was moderately busy everywhere, and the lines at the entrances would grow during the day. With this pass, you won’t have to wait in line, and can get into the museums at every time you want (when you buy your tickets separately, you will get a timeslot so it won’t be too crowded on some hours). You can pick up (or buy) the pass at various locations, we got ours at the Palazzo Vecchio, as this was our first stop of the day.
The first room after going into the Palazzo is the hall of the 500. This was used to house the 500 members of the great council of Florence. This is one of the places mentioned in Dan Brown’s book ‘Inferno’ when Robert Langdon is looking for the words ‘Cerca Trova’ in the painting ‘the battle of Marciano’ by Giorgio Vasari. There are also other great paintings and statues in the hall, but one of the most beautiful things in the great ‘Salone’ is the ceiling. Here you’ll see 39 painting created by Vasari and his assistants. In one of the corners there is a little room with no windows, the studiolo di Francesco I. The room is full with paintings, and if you take a good look at the floor you will realize there are also some hidden passage ways, one of which if I’m not mistaken can be visited with a guide during the day.
Going farther into the Palazzo you will visit a lot of great rooms where the Medici family used to live in it’s day. On the second floor, among other things, there is a terrace which will give you an amazing view over a large part of the city. Walking along the balcony higher up in the Hall of the 500 with sketches and pictures of how it used to look, and of the death mask of one of the great writers/poets in history: Dante Alighieri. The other thing I wanted to see was the ‘Sala delle Mappe’ or the Room with historic Maps, of which you can see a picture in my first post. Take your time in this Palazzo to go up the stairs en climb up the tower if you dare to and of course if you are fit enough, because it is quite a steep, narrow and long climb, but the views of the city will be worth it.
After leaving the Palazzo Vecchio in all its greatness we had a bite to eat right across from it at ‘Rivoire’. Now, to tell you the truth, it is a bit on the expensive side, and the waiter, although very correct wasn’t as friendly as you might expect or are used to. But the spaghetti we had was delicious and the location was perfect. You have a view over the entire Piazza, so it’s a great place to sit for a while, watch the people and everything that is happening around you.
After a quick stop at the Loggia dei Lanzi to look at the statues, we set foot across the Ponte Vecchio to our second museum of the day: The Palazzo Pitt.
The building itself is divided into several different parts, and each part houses its own gallery. This varies from silver and porcelain to Renaissance and modern art. With the Firenze card you get free admission to all of the exhibits, but you have to choose 3 you actually go to for free, so you are not allowed into all of them with this card if I remember correctly. Depending of your own interests of course my advise would be to skip the porcelain and silver museum because in my opinion it doesn’t show the importance of the place and the exhibits are quit small. We went to see, the Royal apartments (which I believe you can access without the card), the main gallery, the modern gallery and the costume gallery. Now, one thing to remember is that the gardens behind the palazzo, the Boboli gardens are also an exhibit, so if you want to go and see them you have to make sure you don’t surpass the amount of exhibits you can go to. As this is a must see, make sure to go and visit. We climbed all the way up to the top of the gardens, and you’ll have a great view of the entire region, not just the city of Florence.
When we walked back to our apartment it was about 2 or 3 PM. Our feet were hurting, and we needed an afternoon snack, so what we did was go into a delicatessen store on the way home en bought an assortment of things we thought we would like, because we had never eaten them before. So we came back with a big variety of cooking and other delicious things like cannoli’s.
After putting our feet up for a few hours, is was time for some dinner. So we walked into Piazza della Duomo and took a sideway which led to some restaurants, of which we picked one at random. A great meal later we went back for some sleep, but were caught in the middle of something in de Piazza where a group of a few hundred people were standing together in front of the Duomo. So we joined them to see what was going on. It turned out to be a procession going to all the churches in de city which took them all night. After the people left the Piazza we did to and went to bed, so we would be ready for a new and busy day the next morning. But more about that in my next post!