When we realized we tackled nearly every major hotspot in Florence by the end of our second night, we decided to spend half our day in Bologna during our last day in Tuscany. I’ll get to Bologna in another post, but first let me show you what we did in Florence during the morning before our train and at night when we returned.
Art, art, art! Our second day in Florence was based around our artsy sides – we tackled both the Uffizi and Accademia galleries in one day. Go team!
Mother and I awoke at the crack of dawn to be on line early at the Uffizi. We got there at 8:10am – just five minutes before the gallery opened, yet we still had to wait another hour to go in. But it was well worth the wait. The Uffizi Gallery is one of the oldest and most famous art museums in the Western world, or so says Wikipedia. While pictures were not allowed in the gallery, I did manage to sneak of few of the corridors lined with statues.
While I didn’t get to snap any photos of the impressive art, I will give you some googled images of my favorite pieces as a sample of what we saw.
From there, the mother and I trekked over to Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s picturesque bridge lined with jewelry shops. While the merchandise was a little out of our price range it was still fun to walk through.
Crossing the bridge led us to Pitti Palace where we entered the Biboli Gardens, one of my favorite parts of Florence. The views from the tops of the hills in the gardens were spectacular and it was very calming to be in a green quiet space again.
Lucky for us it was free museum night on our second night in Florence, so we were able to visit the Accademia for free! It’s always great to see amazing art, but to see it for free is an entirely different experience. And we saw David. That’s right, Michelangelo’s David – the massive 17 feet tall and more than 12,000 pound sculpture designed to take your breath away.
In addition the beautiful statue of David, I was also blown away by Italy’s humorous sculptures. Take a look at all the weird faces I found:
Florence was without doubt my favorite stop in our Italian adventure. We were in Florence for two and a half days and did not waste a single second. Our hotel was only a 15 minute walk from the Duomo, the aesthetic and geographical centerpiece of Florence. Duomo is actually a generic Italian term for a cathedral; Florence’s cathedral is formally known as Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. Its construction began in the late 1200s and was completed by 1436. This is one old, but beautiful, structure.
While we were inside the Duomo, a recording went off roughly every five minutes reminding guests to be quiet. SILENCE! Listen to the recording here.
Then I decided to climb the campanile rather than the Duomo’s dome so I could look down on the cathedral from above. More than 400 steps later, I reached the top.
Then we visited the Babistry, a minor basilica built between 1059 and 1128.
Afterwards, Pattie and I meandered over to the San Lorenzo market, which is filled with leather belts, bags and wallets and scarves galore! After browsing through the market for a while and filling our empty tummies with dinner, we settled back into our hotel where I went on a successful mosquito-killing rampage after Pattie was bit. With the blood-sucking critter terminated, we slept and prepped ourselves for a busy second day in Florence.
After a long journey from London – including transportation via Tube, bus, plane and boat – Pattie and I finally arrived at our hotel on the island of Lido in Venice. We were both exhausted after our travels, so we opted to sleep early and wake up bright-eyed for the next morning. Unfortunately, I forgot to change the time setting on my phone (Italy is one hour ahead of London), so we wound up waking up an hour later than anticipated.
But that was not a problem because after sampling the breakfast buffet (or in my case, eating one of everything), we hopped a waterbus to the main part of Venice to begin a day of touring.
When we first set foot in Venice – on our wobbly sea legs – we were overwhelmed by the beauty of everything. The buildings are perfect muted shades of yellow, pink and orange and are complimented well by the foamy blue-green water. We made our way along the water passing by several smaller water channels before we made it into Piazza San Marco, which houses several prominent Venetian attractions including Doge’s Palace, San Marco Basilica and campanile (a bell tower).
Venice also has amazing tourist shopping. Granted, every booth looks the same, but at least the gifts look good. Everyone sells masks, glass, Pinnochio look-alikes and the usual trinkets.
Aside from the shopping and typical tourist attractions, the mother and I enjoyed wandering the various side streets of Venice the most. We got lost several times, but this was probably a good thing in the long run. We were able to cross countless bridges, gawk at gondolas passing by and soak in the adorable quality of the city. What makes this part of Venice so unique is its lack of cars. There are no road, only pedestrian pathways and the only form of transportation is via water. Despite the crowded tourist feel, once we got to the side streets of the city it was very relaxing not having to worry about crossing streets.
Then, after several hours of sight seeing, Pattie and I decided to call it a day and head back to Lido to relax in our beachy hotel. We left Venice just as the sun was starting to set, so we got to see some beautiful images of Venice from our waterbus:
Pasta, pizza, gelato and the occasional apple rounded out my diet through Italy. Can’t say it was a week of healthy eating choices, but I don’t really care because I was well fed and happy the entire time.
Prepare to hear your tummy rumble.
Let’s start with the gelato…
And the pizza!
Now on to the dinners….
I was going to be mildly cliche and start this post with some insightful Beatles lyrics, but the first song to pop into my head was not-so-insightful-deep-or-meaningful “Twist and Shout.” So here you go:
Well, shake it up, baby, now, (shake it up, baby)
Twist and shout. (twist and shout)
Cmon cmon, cmon, cmon, baby, now, (come on baby)
Come on and work it on out. (work it on out)
You would think taking the quintessential Beatles picture at Abbey Road would be fun, easy and good time all around, right? Wrong, it is not easy. Little do you know that Abbey Road is at the intersection of three very busy roads. There are no stop signs or traffic lights, and while cars are required to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, very few do because they are annoyed by all the tourists. But alas, we crossed that path many times to get the picture right – or at least as close to right as we could.
As we departed Abbey Road, we stumbled across this witty road sign…