Returning to Florence, one of our favorite places in Italy
Florence and the Arno River on a lazy afternoon.
This beautiful country has wonderful people, delicious food, yummy wine, iconic art, beautiful scenery and some great weather ~ no wonder it’s one of our favorite places to visit.
Our first trip to Italy was to Florence in 2003. In 2021, we returned. On this return trip, we revisited some of the places we saw in 2003, like the Uffizi, and made a point to visit new (to us) places, like the ’Accademia, to see Michelangelo’s David.
Getting from the airport to our hotel involved rolling our suitcases right past the Santa Maria del Fiore (a.k.a. the Duomo). The cathedral truly is a masterpiece of art and engineering. Its size is majestic today; I can only begin to imagine how impressive it was when the dome was finished in 1436. We visited Florence for a few days in 2003 and toured the interior of the iconic duomo, including going to the top of the dome. For this visit, we were content to appreciate it from the outside.
The cathedral is so large that it’s impossible to take it all in when you’re standing next to it. To appreciate its monumental scale, it’s best to go to the hills on the other side of the river. In this photo, the cathedral, with bell tower and baptistry, is on the right. The tower on the left is the famous Palazzo Vecchio. Our hotel was just around the corner from this tower and accompanying square Piazza della Signoria.
The original David is in the Galleria dell’Accademia. I think it’s interesting that such a nondescript building (above, right side) contains one of Western art’s masterpieces. In addition to being famous for having the David, the Accademia is also famous for its long entrance lines.
To bypass the entrance line, we purchased “skip the line” tickets. David is quite popular, so our “skip the line” tickets only allowed us to skip the long line but we still had to join the shorter “skip the line ticket holders” line. But it was worth it.
David is at the end of a long hall on a pedestal in a large room. It’s a fitting approach to such a magnificent work of art. Even though there are the expected rope barriers and nearly a dozen gallery employees for security, it’s possible to get within two feet of the pedestal. Being that close allows you to experience the emotion of the piece (David’s furrowed brow of worried concentration) and Michelangelo’s skill (look how the big toe hangs over the pedestal!) The roughness of the toes is due to a vandal hitting them with a hammer, not an attempt by Michelangelo at portraying psoriasis.
There are other works in the Accademia, including unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo, but they all pale in comparison to David.
After art, there must be food.
We went on two food tours during this visit. We love food tours because we always go to out-of-the-way places (above) where we had penne with ragu, penne with pesto sauce and pasta pomodoro, all washed down with a small glass of local red wine.
Speaking of wine…
One of the tours took us to a wine shop that specialized in older vintages of Tuscan wines, such as the 1967 chiantis above. Because chiantis aren’t known for aging well, I was dubious that these wines would be any good. However, a bottle was only 40 Euros. At that price, I couldn’t resist. The shop owner assured us that we had a delightful drinking experience in front of us and gave us detailed instructions about how to achieve that experience (decant the wine, then let it breathe for hours).
To end the food tour and our final night in Florence, we had gelato. There were so many tempting flavors but in the end, I went with my go-to combo: one scoop of chocolate and one scoop of caramel. They were delicious!
We drank the wine several nights later. We diligently followed instructions, decanting the wine carefully and then letting it breathe for several hours. The result? A wine of almost no aroma and no flavor. But to be fair, it had almost no aroma or flavor when we opened it. A total bust. Am I sorry I spent the money? Absolutely not. It was fun to entertain the thought that maybe the wine would be interesting.
Until next time ~