It always a little discombobulating when you arrive somewhere for the first time ever in your life and everywhere you look it feels like déjà vu. Such is my experience in Florence or Firenze. Blame it on Epcot. Everywhere looks so quintessentially Italian I feel like I have already been here.
Do not misunderstand. It is wonderful. In fact, I am thankful it rained so I could remember that this is not a movie set. There really are gelato shops and piazzas everywhere. The church bells do ring on the hour. Pigeons do amass where tourists are dining al fresco.
I did not have time to gawp. I had just a little over 5 hours in Florence to try to see as much as I could. Since I was time limited I prioritized the must-dos.
1. See Michaelangelo’s David sculpture in the Accademia. Our group split up, each to our own agenda, in Piazza della Repubblica. I walked straight to the Accademia and got in line for tickets. I was originally going to buy the Firenze pass (Rick Steves highly recommends if you are going to see most of the major museums and churches.) Once I realized that in 5 hours I was only going to see a few places, I decided to buy single tickets. The regular (non-reserved line) was down the block and around the corner and hardly moving. I stepped into the end as it began to pour rain. A entrepreneurial young woman offered a reserved ticket for E22. This was only 9,50 more than a regular priced ticket and it would cut my wait time dramatically. I exchanged money for time and proceeded to the reserved line and was inside within about 15 minutes.
I was really impressed with all of the Michaelangelo carvings including the ones that appear unfinished. The David is a wonder. I am so glad I saw it in person. I quickly cruised through the rest of the Accademia and then continued my Firenze blitz.
- I walked all around the outside of the Duomo. The stripes surprised me.
- I continued on to the Uffuzi art museum. I spent more time looking at the amateur artists painting in the courtyard and perusing in the gift shop than I did looking at the collection.
- I found a little café run by a local family and enjoyed a delicious and simple pasta lunch—just a plate of tortellini al ragu with bread and sparkling water.
- My friend Faith told me about the School of Leather and I was intrigued. It is located in the back part of the Basilica San Croce. It was off beat and interesting and it is heartening to know people are continuing to learn this trade.
I can understand why people need 2.5 to 3 days to see Florence. I barely scratched the surface. Must return one day.