It’s the end of our second day in Florence. Time flies when your having fun! We’re back in our room relatively early for once–it’s only 9:15. Last night at this time we hadn’t started dinner yet! And we’re listening to the Red Sox broadcast, streaming on the Internet, since they’re playing a day game today.
Florence is less overwhelming than Rome. It’s much smaller and very walkable–everything is close together and the narrow streets keep speeds under control. It’s also more “touristy.” And the tourists here seem to be mostly American (or Japanese), while in Rome they were equally likely to be speaking English, French, German, Spanish or some language I didn’t recognize. On the other hand, the selfie stick and flower sellers here aren’t ubiquitous and seem less aggressive.
Day 1: Saturday
We got here yesterday on the high-speed train. At 150 mph, it was a quick and easy trip. The Dei Mori B&B is in a great location just south of the Duomo and a 15 minute walk from the train station. We got settled in our room then headed out to get lunch. We went to Il Gatto e la Volpe a casual restaurant near our hotel. The pizza and salad were great, but it took a while to get the check, almost making us late for our Vasari Corridor and Uffizi Gallery Tour. Our guide Mario Gesu was great, memorizing everyone’s name and running the tour like a Socratic-method seminar on Medieval and Renaissance art. The downside was the crowds, which were massive and noisy. We had headsets, but the quality wasn’t great and it was hard to even get a good view in some of the rooms. Once we moved to the Vasari Corridor there were no more crowds, but the art was less interesting–a lot of baroque and neo-classical portraits. I’m glad we took the tour, since we would have been lost without it. But I told Anne that we should come back in January some year to visit the museums.
The Vasari Corridor connects the Palazzo Vecchio, the Florence town hall, with the Palazzo Pitti, a Medici palace on the other side of the river, running across the Ponte Vecchio along the way. As we headed back to the bridge after the tour, we passed the chiesa di Santa Felicita. (We had actually seen into the church from the corridor, because the Medicis had their own entrance into the church balcony from the corridor. Mass was just starting, so we slipped into a back pew–the church was packed. We soon realized that we were at a confirmation, with the bishop celebrating. We couldn’t see much, but the choir was very good!
Back at the hotel, I worked on photos and blog posting from the Rome part of the trip, then we went out for at late dinner.
Day 2: Sunday
After breakfast at our B & B, I continued to catch up on photos and blog posts–finally finished Rome! While I did that, Anne went out to do some geocaching in the area. Just before noon we headed out to grad a quick lunch before our Accademia/David tour at 1. Anne had seen a group of Italian cyclists getting lunch at a little shop around the corner from our B & B, so we picked up sandwiches there and ate as we walked to our tour rendezvous. Our tour group ended up being an all-Massachusetts affair, with us, a couple from Bellingham and a family of six (4 kids aged 8 to 15) from Concord.
David was spectacular and the crowds were much more manageable than at the Uffizi the day before. After the guided part of the tour ended, we spent another hour or so looking at the other sculpture and paintings there. Then we wandered to the Mercato Central (central market) and grabbed beers and watched the people go by. I also picked up a sausage to supplement our carb-laden breakfasts.
Some more geocaching on the way back to the hotel. Then we headed out to wash clothes at a laundromat down the street and grabbed an early light dinner (appetizer, salad and pizza) at Il Gatto e la Volpe again.