Awoke at 6a and blogged a bit before breakfast at 8:30a, eventually setting out around 10a. Our first errand of the day was looking for some boxers for Addison. We were pointed in the direction of a department store called “COIN” which took up an entire block and was four stories of stuff. Amusingly there was a section called “Intimo Donna — lingerie and seduction”; they don’t mince words in Italy! Found some boxers but they were 30+ euros each. Yeah, no.
We walked past the Duomo and Baptistry (with its impressive — if facsimile, as the originals are safely stored away from the elements — doors) and on to the Accademia Gallery. We were admitted in pretty short order. First we saw the ubiquitous religious pre-Renaissance art then an exhibition of instruments that the Medici owned including a violin cello and harpsichords. They also had a serpent, a long, snake-like ancestor of the tuba.
Back in the museum proper we saw a sculpture (well, actually the sculptor’s model or gesso) meant to be viewed at any angle consisting of three twisting figures called “Rape of the Sabines”. Saw more creepy skulls at the bases of the cross and the creepiness was upped even more by baby heads with red wings flitting about.
Next up was “David”. It was on display in a brightly lit room and commanded the space. It was far taller than I thought it’d be as well. Despite seeing it all of my life (and certainly all over Florence not only as a copy in front of the Palazzo Vecchio but also as a tiny statue, on t-shirts, etc. at every single tourist trap) it was still amazing to see it in person. I was particularly struck by the lifelike pose and the vein marbled hands holding the stone (which Michelangelo sculpted proportionally larger than is natural to make it more impressive).
Leading up to “David” was a series of unfinished sculptures called (appropriately enough) the “Prisoners” as they are trapped in stone. They were originally intended for the tomb of Pope Julius II but the plans were scrapped due to funds running short and remained in his workshop unfinished. There was also “Pieta di Palestrina” in the hall.
The next room contained many objects (statues, casts, etc.) found in sculptors’ workshops. Heading upstairs there were some amazing tapestries and 1300s embroidery and other Christian art.
Headed back outside and got some take-out Subway for Addison and booked a tour of parts of Tuscany we couldn’t reach via train at an office nearby. We then headed to Brio Pizzeria where Addison had some roasted potatoes, Michelle a mushroom and sausage pizza, and myself a ham, sausage, and salami pizza. At an adjacent table people in a cooking class were eating what they cooked and seemed to be having a great time. Next trip, perhaps!
Arrived at the hotel room for siesta (a custom I love very much!) from 2:30p until 4p. At 4p we got some (very pricey, even for Florence) gelato then went on to Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze. In front of the church a construction crew was tearing down bleachers and what looked to be a jousting ground — sadly we may have missed a really cool event from the prior day’s holiday. Oh well.
It is a testament to the embarrassment of riches that Florence has sight-wise that Santa Croce isn’t on must-see lists. Not only does it have amazing chapels, reliquaries, and stained glass but it is also home to the tombs of three giants: Machiavelli, Galileo, and Michelangelo. One would be hard pressed to think of many heavier hitters in their particular fields. The tomb of Michelangelo in particular was incredibly beautiful. Three ladies — representing sculpture, painting, and architecture — sit about his sarcophagus looking lost and sad.
Well-worn graves from dating all the way back to the Middle Ages were scattered around the floor of the church. After admiring a statue that was similar to our Lady Liberty as well as the numerous chapels, all lavishly painted, and a reliquary of a golden head containing a skull dedicated to the cult of a nun we headed out to the cloisters. We checked out a room used as a meeting hall as well as a stick showing the height of historic floodwaters, topped by 1966’s catastrophic flood. A small museum contained more artifacts. As the church was closing we headed back outside and were treated to the basilica’s bells ringing above. Sorry about the following deluge of pictures, but Santa Croce was really breathtaking!
Headed back towards the room, stopping to see some of the sculptures in Loggia dei Lanzi. The Loggia is an open air covered sculpture garden adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria, the piazza where Palazzo Vecchio is situated.
Arrived back at the room at 6p and rested until 8p (second siesta? nice!). Afterwards headed out for dinner, crossing the Ponte Vecchio to the south bank of the Arno. The bridge was originally the home to many butchers, the offal and other remains being dropped directly below and carried downstream to the sea. When the Medici came to power they cleaned up the area and installed a walkway from their offices on the south bank to the center of government at the Palazzo Vecchio. As butcher shops would certainly not do they were replaced with gold and silver shops — and those establishments remain to this day. There were many flags along the route and as many shops were closed they were locked behind very sturdy steel enclosures. The bridge, even at the late hour, was crowded.
We dined to Lungarno23, a burger joint. There was a lot of construction along the way, Genetta would later tell us it was to repair a sinkhole that occurred as part of the significant rain she encountered earlier in June. Michelle had a bacon and cheese burger with green apple salad and some chocolate cake. Addison had a bacon and cheese burger and fries, as did I. Heading back across the bridge we passed a group playing Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” and head to our room and bed.