Day 15- Firenze, Day 2

David, just in case you don’t
know what I’m talking about

For the first time in our whole trip, we stayed for 2 nights in the same place. Let me tell you, it felt really good to not have to worry about packing up our stuff and toting it around for once. Firenze day 2 started out early as well, though not as early as day 1. We took a bus from our hostel to the Galleria dell’accademia. This is the home of the famous David sculpture by Michelangelo. It also had a very interesting musical instrument museum which I enjoyed. It included some of the first pianos, and the first upright piano (it looked like a grand piano stood up on end). It also included some interesting musical instruments that aren’t around today, including a serpentine horn, and one-stringed instrument that sounded like a trumpet. There were other works of art, but the main exhibit was David. He is HUMUNGOUS! I was not expecting him to be that big, but he is one beautiful work of art. Sadly, we were not allowed to take pictures of him, but here is one from the internet. It is just amazing that Michelangelo was able to do this. At the Galleria there were also some modern art exhibits, but Austin and I don’t appreciate modern art, especially if it seems like we could do it ourselves. So, we moved on to bigger and better things.
Where David used to be outside of Palazzo Vecchio
Following the Galleria, we walked over to the Basilica di Santa Croce. This basilica houses the tombs of many famous people who spent time in Florence, including Dante, Machiavelli, Galileo, and many others. It had the same outside decoration as the Duomo, but the inside was better decorated with all of the tombs. There were also some pretty side chapels and a leather factory attached. I asked Austin if there was anything else he wanted to include about this church, and he said “It was cool”. And that’s that.

Tree of Life fresco
After a brief stroll along the Arno river, we came upon and crossed Ponte Vecchio, where jewelry stores have lined the bridge for 700 years or so. Before the jewelry stores, butchers set up shop there because it was so convenient to throw the trimmings into the river! Dante did much of his thinking on this bridge, and Austin says it is the most famous bridge in Italy. Also, there is a passageway on top of the jewelry stores that joins Palazzos on either side of the river. The Medicis used it to cross the bridge without having to go out among the public. Ponte Vecchio was pretty cool, but there were a million people on it, and everyone was smoking so we did not spend too much time there. We found the Palazzo Pitti; it had a sloped hill out in front that was paved, but people were just picnicking and resting on it, so Austin left me here to scavenge for lunch. After lunch, we hiked to the top of the hill behind the Palazzo to try to get into the gardens adjoining the palazzo. In the guidebook, it said that the gardens were free, but they teamed up with some museum and other garden to try to get more money, so we were not willing to spend 20 euro to go in the stupid garden. Having wasted all of my energy climbing up VERY steep hills, we walked back down, over the bridge, and tried to find the gelato festival.
Ponte Vecchio
The first time we saw a poster for the gelato festival, Austin was SO excited he said Whoah! Whoah! In the middle of the street, stopped, and went back to look at the sign. It was for today and the next few days, so we decided to check it out. Unfortunately, in order to participate, you had to buy a special card for 15 euro that was good for the whole festival (3 days), cooking demonstrations, 5 tastings, and a cocktail. We were just interested and just had time for tasting, so we thought that 15 euro for the card was not worth it for us. So, we checked out all the different piazzas that housed the festival, and then bought gelato from a shop in the piazza just to satisfy our cravings. We hung out there for awhile and then caught a train to Siena.
Overall impressions of Firenze: although the countryside is beautiful and the museums house so much art and the palazzos contain so much history, Austin and I will not be returning to Firenze unless it is in the low non-tourist season. There were WAY too many tour groups to really be able to enjoy the city. Also, by this time, we have been to a ton of museums, so I think we would have had a different experience that way if we had gone to Firenze earlier in the trip. We are glad we visited Firenze, but were happy to be leaving to go to a city with less tourists where everything moves at a slower pace.
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