Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuscany, Day 2: going to Florence!!

On Monday of our Spring Break, we went into Florence. From our Villa we drove to Scandicci and took a tram into the city. This way we got to park for free all day and not worry about crazy Italian traffic. It worked out really well, and we were even able to fit the double stroller on the tram. Any trip started with a tram ride, makes the boys happy so we were good to go by 10am.

Our goals for Tuscany were simple: enjoy the sights, eat Gelato (it was rumored that modern day ice cream was invented in Florence) and make it to the Accademia to see Michelangelo's David. While Florence has an amazing amount of museums, we knew that the four small people would not want to walk through museum after museum. Since this was their spring break to, we made sure they had fun as well.

Here are the kids in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, near the train station...
 View of Piazza Santa Maria Novella, the kids loved chasing the pigeons here!
After riding the tram, then walking to the Piazza to inquire about the Firenze Card (for €50 it gets you into all the museums without waiting in line, we decided to chance it since we only wanted to go to the Accademia but the Brocks got it and they actually went back to Florence for a second day to get maximum use out of it, we opted to stay near the villa) we needed to get lunch. The thing I love about Italy is while walking down this winding roads, you turn the corner and see sights like this:
Yeah, that the Florence Cathedral with Campanile front and center, the Duomo directly behind it.  And that little glassed in cafe? That's where we had lunch and gelato...the best gelato I have ever eaten since living in Italy was hands down this Strawberry Cheesecake flavor...to die for! The cappuccino flavor wasn't bad either!
After lunch we made our way to the Catherdral...it's even more gorgeous than you think!
We really enjoy the Rick Steve's books for traveling, and while the maps are no help (whatsoever, lol) the facts are nice. The Duomo in Florence is the largest dome built in brick and mortar in the world! You can actually pay to go all the way up to the top but the line was ridiculously long. We passed and I don't regret that decision.
After admiring the Cathedral, we went on a quest to find the Accademia. It should have been a very easy find from the Duomo, but we went down the wrong side street then a vendor was blocking the directional sign, so we wandered for about an hour. I don't mind getting lost though, the sights you see on the way are incredible. (Unless you are Connor...then you find it all utterly boring, apparently!)

Finally after wandering, then asking several other people speaking English, we found it! We were really worried about the lines; it was the Monday after Easter and the Accademia is usually closed on Mondays but was open for the holiday. Add in we were later getting there than we wanted to be and we had decided not to do the Firenze Pass...I was so nervous that I'd be so close to seeing it but still miss out. But we got there and there was no line. In fact, I wondered if we were in the right place. It was €6.50 per adult for admission to the museum and kids six and under were free. We went got our tickets and entered all within a matter of minutes. After first you don't see the David. It's a lot of Renaissance art that is truly amazing but with the kids, I didn't really get to read/look that much. Using Rick Steves book, I mapped the route to David and as we turned the corner BAM! there it was. No line, no fuss at all. Maybe 15-20 other people milling around but it wasn't even crowded.

Now, photography inside the Accademia is forbidden, so I'm not saying how I got these photos just that I did and I didn't get caught :)
 It truly is breathtaking. When you think about that fact that this seventeen foot statue was built from one piece of stone...it's just amazing. Seeing it in person, cannot compare to countless pictures. It's nuts to think that I remember learning about this in middle school. I saw it in my Disney ''Wonderful World of Knowledge'' encyclopedia set when I was so young that it was just a silly statue of a naked guy! Being there with the kids, being able to explain to them about Michelangelo, how old the statue is and the challenges that Michelangelo faced, retelling the story of David and Goliath...I can't even put it into words. Bubba was especially interested; he kept asking how it stayed together. "How did he glue it?" He really couldn't believe that it came from one giant rock.

After the Accademia, we made our way over to the Uffizi gallery. Amy really wanted to see Botticelli's VenusThe line for the Uffizi was extremely long. So long, that we opted to skip it. Instead we hung around the Piazza della Signoria, checked out the Fountain of Neptune, watched the street performers and the artists.
There were several posed as statues but if you tossed change into their container, they would move or pose. Never talk, but they would change postions. Bubba and I did this with the man acting like Leonardo Da Vinci.

Sissy loved watching the Mime! She was giggling outloud and clapping while he did his show. B like admiring all the other artists work.
 We posed with the Fountain of Neptune, the boys laughed at seeing yet ANOTHER naked guy, and we made our way to the Arno river. The boys rested and colored in their Mickey notebooks that we got them at the Disney Store here in Florence, (they were THRILLED to see the Disney store!) I nursed Sissy and we just relaxed and people watched.
Here is a view of the Ponte Vecchio, meaning Old Bridge. It's lined with shops built on stilts(which we avoided).

All in all, Florence was fun. I don't think it's a place that I feel like I just *have* to go back to though. It was very, very touristy and crowded. I saw Subway, McDonald's, Disney store...just kinda took away from the Renaissance feel. Like a typical tourist place, things seemed overpriced and not worth the money they were asking. Don't get me wrong, it was amazing...the kids did great and I'm glad we went.

1 comment:

  1. There ares some fantastic pictures of the family in this bunch! Sounds like a great trip.



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