After a couple of hours in Pisa, we returned to Florence late and slept the first of three mosquito-filled nights in a tiny cubicle that reminds me of a shipping crate. The next morning, we got an early start to Florence and began our tour at the Piazza della Signoria. Here you find the world famous art gallery, the Uffizi, and a replica of Michaelangelo’s David standing outside the square.
Along the way we got a close look at the frescoes decorating the ceiling, which shows some interesting torture methods.
In need of refreshment, we stopped for our daily gelato and then did some more uphill climbing in the Boboli Gardens. Not so much a garden as an exercise in climbing stairs, we had some more great views but not enough shrubbery to satisfy my definition of a garden. The nearby Garbini Gardens were much better at fitting this description, though at this point I was really sick of climbing up and down (little did I know the torture was to intensify in Siena).
Day 2 in Florence began by standing in line at the Uffizi. Despite our lack of interest in Renaissance art, we knew that if we didn’t visit we’d probably regret it later. Thankfully, armed with our teacher cards from France, we scored a 50% reduction on our tickets, thus only paying 5 euros each. We also downloaded a free audioguide by Rick Steves, which was excellent and worth paying money for. We understood a lot more of what we saw, and his sense of humor and appreciation for his audience was nice. He told his what rooms were completely boring and useless to see, and he explained the reasons for which so many of the paintings were world famous. Among the jewels of the collection were Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Caravaggio’s Medusa.
It happened that that day was the festival for St. Giovanni, or St. John the Baptist, and thus there were parades and fireworks throughout the town.
Refreshed, we continued our walking tour of the city. We had another microwave pasta dinner and headed to the famous Ponte Vecchio for sunset.