Europe 2012: Day 6–First Full Day in Florence

If you’ve been following my Europe recap posts, you might remember that my last post covered our day of traveling from Paris, France to Florence, Italy, and our initial explorations of Florence. This post will cover our first full day in Florence, during which we roughly followed the ‘Florence in 1 Day’ itinerary in the Frommer’s Florence & Tuscany Day By Day guide book.

After eating at the free breakfast buffet at our hotel (which was good by the way – cereal, juice, coffee, croissants, fruit, salami, cheese, yogurt), we walked to the Uffizi, which my Frommer’s guide describes as, “…one of the world’s great museums, and its single best repository of Renaissance art,” including pieces by da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, and more.

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Photography was not allowed inside the Uffizi. We very much enjoyed the museum and spent 2.5 – 3 hours there before strolling over to the Piazza della Signoria.

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As you can see, this piazza is packed during the day! It is a beautiful square, adorned by dramatic sculptures.

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Michelangelo’s status of David formerly stood here, but was moved to the Galleria dell’Accademia to protect it (which we visited later in the day). A copy of the original now stands in the piazza.

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The Palazzo Vecchio looms over one side of the square.

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Sculpture of Perseus holding Medusa’s severed head:

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Our next stop was a visit to the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Duomo – a symbol of Florence! Construction began on this structure in 1296, and the cathedral was consecrated in 1436.

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We waited in line and climbed the 463 steps to the top of the dome. The climb was rather tight in some places and it actually made me quite claustrophobic! The views at the top were so incredibly worth it though! P1090349

Florence, oh Florence, how I love thee. Oh, and you too huz.

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Incredible. There are no words.

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After the tiring climb up and down the Duomo, we most certainly earned our lunch! We picked a restaurant right next to the Duomo, for this most excellent view from our table:

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We ordered a salad and a pasta dish, and split each. Here is the tuna salad that I picked out.P1090363

And a smoked salmon pasta dish selected by the huz. Both were delish!P1090362

After lunch, we toured the interior of the Duomo which is a bit plainer than the exterior, but still rather majestic.

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Looking up at the painted cupola.P1090367

Then we walked to another art museum – the Galleria dell’Accademia – which, as I mentioned earlier, holds the authentic, real-deal statue of David, sculpted by Michelangelo. This was another museum at which photography was not allowed inside, but we snapped a couple shots in the outdoor courtyard which featured yet another whimsically painted copy of David. I am attempting to pose like David.

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The Galleria dell’Accademia was a place at which our Firenze Card really saved us! We got to skip the VERY long line and stroll right in! We only stayed for about 20-30 minutes, just enough time to stroll through, check out David (which was awesome, by the way), and move on to our next destination, recommended by my Frommer’s guide.

The Battistero San Giovanni, a baptistry, stands next to the Duomo, and we visited the inside so that we could visit the spectacular, golden mosaics lining the dome, which were created in the 13th-century.

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We had a little more time left in our afternoon than expected, so we took advantage of our Firenze Card, and visited the Museo Galileo, since it was on the way to our evening destinations.

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The huz is a math geek, and I’m just a dork in general, so we nerded out a little bit. Loved seeing Galileo’s telescopes!

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Then it was time to cross the Arno River for the first time, via the Ponte Vecchio. I snapped this shot of the Ponte Vecchio earlier in the day, and after visiting the Museu Galileo, we walked across this pedestrian-only, jewelry shop-lined bridge.P1090381-2

We stopped in the middle for a look out over the river.

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Along the banks of the Arno River:

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We found more love locks on the Ponte Vecchio! Lovers inscribe their names on the locks, attach, and toss the keys into the river.

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Once we were on the other side of the river, we started walking up, up, up…

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I stopped, turned around, and snapped a shot of the hill we were walking up.

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So many stairsssss! Weeeeee! Our destination was the Piazzale Michelangelo and it was quite an uphill adventure getting there!

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And alas, we finally made it to the panoramic Piazzale Michelango, a square with a terrace overlooking the city of Florence, with the most incredible view you will ever lay your eyes upon.

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The most beautiful city in the world, you think? Yes, I do think so.

Granted, there is a lot of the world I have not seen.

But I am smitten.

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We decided to continue our uphill adventure and continue following the itinerary laid out in our Frommer’s guide, by visiting another church – San Miniato al Monte, an ancient, Romanesque Church.

When we arrived, a bride and groom were being photographed on the steps!

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We walked up MORE stairs, to the entrance of the church, and from there we again had that incredible view of the city.P1090411

We stepped inside the dim church, and it was completely silent.

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…Silent, that is, until we heard the Benedictine monks celebrating Vespers with Gregorian chanting. We stepped lightly, to the back of the church to observe and listen, with a handful of other quiet visitors.

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I can’t even describe what an incredible experience this was. Amazing.P1090414

After spending time at San Miniato al Monte, we walked back down to the Piazzale Michelangelo to again enjoy the views. The sun was beginning to set, and cast a warm glow on the city.P1090416

Many others had the same idea as us! I don’t think I’ll ever forget this moment for the rest of my life.

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We then headed back to the north side of the river, after crossing back over the Ponte Vecchio.

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Sunset view of Florence and the Arno River, as observed from Ponte Vecchio.P1090418

We explored several blocks, seeking out a place for dinner. I love that all of the restaurants in Italy  (France, too, and probably other countries in Europe) post their menus by the door! We stumbled upon Casa del Vin Santo and decided that would be our spot.

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Given our positive experience with pizza at another restaurant the evening prior, we decided again to split a pair of pizzas. For some reason I was in a beer mood this night. Pizza and beer pair well, and I wanted to change it up a bit from the daily wine I’d been enjoying.P1090423

The atmosphere was nice, lively, and cozy, and the food was good.

Then, naturally, it was gelato time! Swoon. Florence was made for me.

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I had hazelnut and mint. I think it was mint! Maybe it was pistachio! Caffe Mokarico, I do recall, had some excellent gelato, in any case.

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Then an evening stroll led us back to our hotel for the night! What a magical evening this was!

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2 thoughts on “Europe 2012: Day 6–First Full Day in Florence

  1. Pingback: Europe 2012: Day 10–Traveling from Florence to Rome « Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom.

  2. Pingback: Europe Trip 2012–Two Week Summary « Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom.

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