Italy Part Two: The Tuscan Capital (and Pisa)

This post is 95 percent Florence. That city is something else… As I told you at the end of the previous post, I also needed to have some repairs done. I did a quick stop by the leaning tower, but only because it was on my way forward.

The old renaissance capital Florence

Let’s start with a mind boggling fact that gives you some idea about the cultural and artistic magnificence of the city: According to UNESCO, about 60 percent of the world’s art treasures are located in Italy and about half of those are in Florence. I did my best at viewing a lot of those in my four days there. I bought the Firenze card that gave me access to most of the museums in the city and I used it to gain entry to sixteen places.

The history of the capital of Tuscany is really impressive. It is considered as the birth place of renaissance and home of one of the most famous noble families in the history, the Medicis. There’s a lot to see of the long history even without entering a single museum. The Arno river is also a sight in itself and the bridges crossing it are beautiful too.

The Ponte Vecchio over the Arno river.
The Florence Cathedral

On Sunday I concentrated on the Duomo, the Florence Cathedral. The entrance to the cathedral itself was free, but the baptistery, the bell tower, the cupola and two museums were something that needed a ticket. Unfortunately this was not something that was included in the bundle ticket that I had bought. I bought a ticket anyway, but decided to skip the cupola.

The baptistery and the cathedral.

I was very impressed with the Cathedral museum that had the previous facade of the cathedral rebuilt inside. There were also Donatello’s sculptures to admire.

Look at the facial details on this statue! It’s no wonder Donatello became one of the Ninja Turtles!

The Baptistery ceiling is unfortunately covered up because of restoration at the moment. The building was still interesting to visit, but the highlight of it was out of sight. The bell tower had a pretty view, but it took some sweating to climb up in the hot weather. The final thing that I visited was the museum below the cathedral that showed the excavated remains of the previous church (Santa Reparata) and told the history of the history of the beginning of the city.

Classical masterpieces

I visited the Accademia and the Uffizi galleries. The first one I lined up for more than two hours to, because I didn’t read the fine print saying that you should reserve the entrance time. I did not do the same mistake for the latter and booked one in advance. In general, I enjoyed the latter much more too. The Accademia had of course the David, but besides that not so much that I found interesting. In Uffizi there were so many things to see that ita was hard not to lose the concentration and miss things.

The David statue by Michelangelo (Galleria dell’Accademia).
Michelangelo’s painting clearly shows his fondness for sculptures. Some of the poses are very statue like. (Galleria degli Uffizi)
Caravaggio’s Medusa was one of my favorites in the Uffizi gallery. The eyes really look alive and horrified. (Galleria degli Uffizi)
Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, one of the highlights. (Galleria degli Uffizi)
Beautiful views and gardens

The most famous spot for sunset photos in Florence is the Piazzale Michelangelo. I took a bus up there and enjoyed the views (not so much the crowds) for more than two hours. It really was worth the hype and it makes sense that so many people come there.

A sunset view of Florence from the Michelangelo square.

The Boboli gardens are a part of the Palazzo Pitti complex that houses several museums and the gardens that basically works as an open air museum. I visited the museums too, but after Uffizi and dell’Accademia they were not really that impressive. Of course the old palace rooms were absolutely stunning, but the offering of those had already exceeded the point of being interesting. The gardens I really liked though.

The cypress lane in the Boboli gardens.
The Buontalenti grotto in the Boboli gardens.
The Belvedere (just above the Boboli gardens) had a modern art exhibition. After seeing classical masterpieces, it was a welcomed change. (Artist: Nico Vascellari)
The repairs

On Monday morning I walked over to a car mechanic close by that I was recommended by the guy working at the park in Scandicci where I spent the first two nights. They told me that I need a body shop and recommended two places that were not too far. I drove to the first one later and they told me that they didn’t have time the next couple of days. He called another shop not too far away and told me to go there instead. The guy working at that place told me (via Google translate) to come back after three and he would fix my bumper and put back the bottom plate that I had to take off.

After about an hour of work he was done and my bumper was most likely better than it was before the accident. Not like new and of course the crack in the front is not completely hidden, but he added screws to other spots too that had lost some earlier. I was a hundred Euros poorer for that, but I did not mind at all. Good and fast service and the language barrier was not a big obstacle either.

The leaning tower on the way west

After a full morning in running around museums and looking at the Boboli gardens, I decided that it was time to give up and leave Florence behind. The Firenze card had also expired and to be bluntly honest, I could not imagine going to another museum any time soon.

I had noticed that the city of Pisa was on my way west from Florence so I decided to take a late lunch break there and go see the leaning tower. It would have been possible to buy a ticket to go up the tower too, but I did not have the energy nor the patience to line up for that. So I just marveled the tower from the outside for some time. I had not imagined being so massive. It’s not that tall, but it was bulkier than I had expected.

The leaning tower of Pisa.

After leaving Pisa I drove a couple of more hours west to a parking spot in Genoa. That was my last night in Italy before going to France. But more about the rest of the journey to Portugal in the next post coming soon.

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