Florence was the starting point of the Renaissance, and that fact is very clear to see around the city. Tonnes of fascinating buildings and sculptures are around every corner, and today the Uffizi and the Accademia Galleries house some of the finest artwork in the world. Unfortunately the cold I caught in Rome hit me hard on my first full day here, and after visiting the Uffizi first thing in the morning I spent the rest of that day in bed. My second day was better and I did manage to do some of the things I wanted.
The Uffizi Gallery has quite the collection of art and sculptures, although there was a lot of construction going on when I visited so lots of the paintings had been moved around, making my audio guide pretty hard to use. Nevertheless, seeing some pretty famous pieces like Birth Of Venus and Primavera was interesting.
The next morning I went to the Accademia Gallery, and was very impressed by the statue of David by Michelangelo. It’s a lot bigger than I imagined it (over 5 meters tall), and rounding the corner and seeing it for the first time at the end of the hall is quite an experience. As you walk towards the main attraction you can admire several unfinished works of Michelangelo called ‘Prisoners’. Named as such because they look like they are struggling to break out of the marble from which they are being sculpted, very interesting because all the chisel marks are still visible and you can almost imagine him working away. But rightly so the main draw of this gallery is David, a really outstanding sculpture which I could stand and look at for a long time (and I did).
After spending five days in Rome, I thought that I had seen enough churches to last me for the rest of this trip. I hadn’t expected that the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore to be quite so striking. The first time I saw it was late in the afternoon when the sun hits the front facade, illuminating the details and the different colored marble. The detailing on the exterior is pretty neat, and the green, red and white marble makes this Cathedral look very different from any of the ones I’ve seen so far.
This church is the central point of the city and I found myself walking around and past it several times. On my second day there I bought the ticket which you can use to get into the bell tower, the crypt underneath the cathedral, the museum and up the Duomo (the dome at the top). After climbing up the 400 odd steps through the church (quite hard considering I’m still sick) you can get the best view over Florence. From the top of the Duomo you get unobstructed 360 degree views over the city and the hills which surround it. Really stunning and absolutely worth the money.
On the evening of my last night in Florence I walked across the river and up the hill to the Piazzala Michaelangelo, where I’d heard the view of the sunset is unparalleled. Every other tourist in Florence had clearly heard the same thing but I managed to find a spot on the fence to set up my GoPro. The guidebooks weren’t wrong, the way that the setting sun glows and changes the color of the sky is almost magical. Since I was taking a timelapse video with my GoPro I had to take the following photo with my phone, still a pretty cool picture.
Ten minutes down the road from my hostel was the central market housed in a big two storied building. The bottom level is a standard market filled during the day with fruit, vegetables and meat. While the top level has heaps of different restaurants, wine bars and food stalls. I enjoyed this place so much that I came back every night for dinner, trying out different things each time. I found a really nice popular pasta place which made several delicious dishes. I loved that all of the places here had open kitchens facing the counter, so you could just stand and watch the chefs at work.