Before leaving on this trip, we’d looked at a map of Mediterranean Europe, and noticed that the famous cities of Florence (Firenze in Italian) and Venice (Venizia) were easily reachable in a grand tour from Barcelona to Rome. So… we decided we’d be crazy not to visit both of them, and headed to Florence first.
We arrived in Florence on the afternoon of Friday the 24th, and visited the Galileo museum, which has an interesting collection of scientific instruments, including a couple of Galileo’s telescopes (which were not very photogenic), and many curiosities from his time and later.
Saturday morning turned out to be Italian Liberation day, the 70th anniversary this year of the day Italy officially declared itself to be liberated from the Nazis in World War II. We happened upon an observation ceremony, which involved two marching bands, a wreath, representatives of various Italian army regiments of the era, a few very old veterans, and some speeches that we could sort of understand the gist of.
Then we visited the Duomo (main cathedral), which involved standing in several long lines — but it was worth it. First we went into the Baptistery, which didn’t have a line at that moment. It was sort of an afterthought for us — “It’s included in the ticket, so why not?”. But when we went in, we were amazed by its spectacular gilded tile dome ceiling.
Next, we climbed up the bell tower, which offered great views of the dome on the Duomo and the Florence skyline. And finally, we went into the cathedral itself, where we were able to view the splendid frescoed ceiling on the inside of the dome, as well as the crypt area, which has an excavated Roman church under the main Duomo. If we’d been willing to stand in line for an hour or more, we could have also climbed up the dome of the cathedral, but we decided to skip it.
Florence is known for its Renaissance-era art, much of which is housed in the Ufizzi Gallery, which we visited on Sunday afternoon (we spent the morning wandering around the city). Unlike many of the visitors, we don’t like to take pictures of all the art inside when we visit art museums — we prefer to just look at it. So, we enjoyed seeing some famous paintings by Michelangelo, El Greco, Carravaggio, da Vinci, and Botticelli… you can go to the Uffizi’s web site or Wikipedia or something if you’re interested.
Next stop: Venice!