Florence, Italy


(Day 85) (Day 86 – Part One) (Day 86 – Part Two)

Saturday 20 June 2015

Prague seems like a age ago as I woke at around 5am over some confusion as to whether I needed to change trains in Bologna or not.  I was also nervous that the stern looking German conductor lady had still got hold of my interrail ticket.  I now understand it is to ensure you get off at the right stop as she handed it back to me about 20 minutes before I arrived in Florence (Firenze).

My hotel was located directly opposite the Medici Chapels and was about 5 minute walk from the train station.  I was able to check in early, so after a quick shower, I nipped to the café next door for a chocolate croissant, juice and espresso for 3.80 EUR.

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After I downed my espresso, I began to queue for the Galleria dell’ Accademia to see the statue of David (off of David v Goliath) sculpted by Michelangelo (not the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtle but the Italian Renaissance artist).  Having not booked tickets in advance, I stood patiently in line for two hours before handing over my 12.50 EUR entrance fee.

The first sculpture I came across was of a three figure composition called Michelangelo’s Victory.  The statue represents a young man’s victory over an older man as he grabs a young woman with force.

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As I walked into the next room, the statue of David was at the other end.  At 17 feet tall, I wasn’t sure what to expect as I am not an art expert or enthusiast.  However, I was pleasantly surprised and fascinated at the same time.  The detail in this single block of marble was amazing from the veins in David’s hand to the curls in his hair.  I was expecting it to be really crowded too but it wasn’t at all.

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Next stop was a short walk over to the Basilica Di San Marco where I paid 4 EUR to enter the Museo Di San Marco.  What used to be a monastery, I was able to walk around and visit the monks bedrooms where each one would have a scene from the bible painted on the wall.  Granted, most had some depiction of Jesus on the cross, but it was interesting nonetheless.

It was around midday and I had already been up about 7 hours.  Embracing the Italian way of life, I stopped off for some red wine and a tuna pizza.

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Feeling refreshed, I paid a visit to Duomo which was the largest cathedral in Florence.

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For 10 EUR, I could visit the museum below the ground floor, dome, bell tower and sectioned off area inside the Duomo.  The museum was interesting as it showed the archaeological dig to unearth the original grounds of the cathedral.  A quick circuit of the museum, I then queued for another two hours just to climb the 463 steps up to the dome.  I am glad I endured the wait as the views at the top of the Doumo were amazing.

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Ten minutes from the Duomo, I walked over to Ponte Vecchio (bridge).  It seemed popular and crowded so I dodged actually crossing the bridge, opting to view it from Ponte S.Trinita instead.  With the sun behind me shining onto Ponte Vecchio and statues adorning Ponte S.Trinita, I was beginning to be seduced by Firenze.

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Trying to fit in one final bit of sightseeing for the day, I managed to gain entry to the Museo Zoologico “La Specola”.  For 5 EUR, this was basically a massive taxidermist’s collection.  There were some very odd looking stuffed animals but pretty much all species were covered here from insects to tigers to seals to birds.  My favourite was the cabinet of Starfishes!

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It was wine o’clock so embracing the Italian culture further, I sat outside Gusti Osteria located directly opposite S.Spirito Church.  Sipping a nice Italian Chianti, I accompanied my “grape juice” with a selection of cheese.

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Feeling the red wine vibe, I headed over to the Santa Croce area.  On my way, I stopped off at the Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio where there was replica statues to view for free.  It was here I saw the statue of David again and Perseus’s victory over Medusa.  God knows why he has to be naked in the statue!

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I finally found Oibi just off the Piazza S. Croce after weaving my way past and through a Florence Running Marathon.

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A lovely bar where I sat outside in the evening warmth enjoying a 20 EUR bottle of Chianti.  For this price, I was able to help myself to the buffet for free.  After my cheese however, I wasn’t hungry…

Sunday 21 June 2015

It was 1am before I was moved along as the Oibi bar was closing.  Something to do with licencing laws which I guess is a reasonable excuse to close.  Wandering back to my hotel in what was now a very quiet and empty Florence, I passed by the Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio again to view the free sculptures being lit up at night.

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Passing the Duomo at night was just as beautiful as it was in the day time.  Somehow, I managed to roll into bed at 3am after my spontaneous night time sightseeing walk.

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I struggled to get up at 9am today for breakfast in the hotel.  My plate consisted basically of smoked fresh salmon, cheese and prosciutto and not much else.

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With my 25kg rucksack packed, I marched over to the train station to catch my 1pm train to another country

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