Lives in New Mexico, United States
Since Apr. 2012
50-64 year old female
Flea & Street Markets, Points of Interest & Landmarks
Architectural Buildings, Churches & Cathedrals
Churches & Cathedrals, Historic Sites, Sacred & Religious Sites
Points of Interest & Landmarks, Historic Walking Areas
Scenic Walking Areas, Points of Interest & Landmarks
One cannot go to Florence and not see Michelangelo's David. Pictures do not prepare you for the size and magnificence of this work of art. But do not ignore the other artworks. The Colossus statue is in the first room. From there take time to see all of Michelangelo's Slaves that line the hall leading to David. Another room shows how the statues are 'mapped out' on models before the final sculpting. There is a nice gift shop with books and everything David you can think of.
A often missed section of Florence is across the Arno in the artisan area across from the Pitti Palace. Start at the Pitti Palace and wander up and down the streets, looking in windows. You will find bookmakers, marble and wood sculptors, jewelry makers, and other artists. It is uncrowded and easy walking. Most of the studios are open and the artists are happy to show you what they do and explain their history. Most of them speak Italian, but with hand signs and demonstration it is easy to understand them. Some of the younger people are bilingual Italian and English. Most are trying to keep alive the arts that are being lost and replaced by technology. Not all the artists are Italian. Some are ex-pats from the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries. The streets are narrow and dark, but perfectly safe. As you wander down a narrow street it will suddenly open onto a piazza and you might find a local outdoor market with food, clothes, and handmade goods.
Even if you have no place to cook, don't miss the Mercato Centrale. It is four blocks from the Duomo, but worth the walk. The lower level is filled with vendors selling meat, fish, cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetables, sweets, breads, wines and liquers. Many will give you a free sample of what they are selling. It is very interesting to see whole chickens with heads and legs attached, parts of the beef or pig one doesn't always think of as food. The cheese vendors will vaccum-seal a piece of cheese allowing you to take it on the airplane and it will keep until you return home. You can buy a piece of bread and some salami and cheese to make your own lunch, or you can go upstairs to the area of restaurants what all use fresh ingredients from the vendors downstairs.
Across the street from the main train station, this church is home to frescos, statues and crucifixes by famous Renaissance artists such as Giotto, Masaccio, Lippi and Botticelli. Another distinction is the only nude crucifix of Christ.
A statue of Dante watches the Piazza from the left of the church. His tomb is inside. Unfortunately, he isn't in it. Santa Croce holds the ornate tombs of Michelangelo, DaVinci, Machievelli, Galileo, and more. The floor is covered in buried tombs. It is a lovely, quiet place to sit and enjoy the architecture, art, stained glass and feeling of peace.
I can't tell you about the inside of the duomo because I couldn't get inside it. The architecture is fantastic. There are benches around the entire outside of the building. You can sit and look at all the colors and details that you don't see in photographs. I wish I had been able to get inside or go up into Giotto's Tower for the view. The Baptistery was closed for renovation and covered in scaffolding when I was there, but the bits of architecture you could see and the huge bronze doors were beautiful.
The Uffizi is a marvelous place filled with the art of the great Renaissance artists, gold leafed triptychs and other marvelous artworks. It is three floors without an elevator, but the walk is worth it. They are now allowing photographs inside the Gallery. They were not when I was there.
If you couldn't get a picture of David or the other glorious statues in the gallerias, then Piazza della Signoria is a must. There are copies of the statues on display around the piazza. If it isn't too crowded you can get up close to the statues and there is no time constraint. Sometimes there is a mime entertaining the crowd or one of the people painted to look like a statue.
Ponte Vecchio is the only bridge not destroyed during WWII. It changed from a bridge lined with meat shops to being lined with gold and silver jewelry shops. It is a nice walk connecting both sides of the Arno River. In the middle is an area where you can overlook the river and see the buildings that line the shores. There is a 'secret' passage that you can tour for a price.
This is the piazza with the carousel. It is a large square with vendors and food stands. Famous name shops line the sides of the piazza. it is a nice place to take a rest and watch the children on the carousel.