I was up early today, 6:30 to be out of the apartment before dawn. I gathered my camera gear and headed up to the train station in hopes of getting a cab to take me to Piazza Michelangelo.
There were a number of cabs at the train station and at this time of the morning and the traffic through Florence was very light. 9 euros later I was at Piazza Michelangelo. Just after 7 am and the sun was not quite up yet. Piazza Michelangelo is a open are plaza with a bronze statue of David that over looks the city. Without the sun it was cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass David. But when the sun did peak over the mountains it was spectacular. There is something special about the light in Italy. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it is magical. My friend Mario told me about it, but until you experience it for yourself, it is hard to understand.
I took a number of photos from up here as the sun started to rise then headed off to find a cappuccino, which I proceeded to spill about 1/4 of it on my camera. Thank goodness there were napkins near by and the camera is weather sealed. So no harm, no foul. I sipped the rest of my drink and watched the piazza come to life. About 8:15 or so I headed back to one of the other coffee shops and had another cappuccino and a pastry, breakfast. I had heard from Cathy, Vangie and Vance and they were due to be at the piazza in about 40 minutes or so.
Once they arrived they were in need of a beverage as they had walked from the apartment, across the river and up to the piazza, and by this time of the day, it was warm. So another coffee while we watched the world go by.
We then headed up the road a bit to the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte (St. Minias on the Mountain). This church was built in the romanesque style in 1207AD. Some of the detail in the marble inlay on the walls and floors was astounding. The craftsmanship used in the construction of this was mind boggling. I think if you were to build a building like this today, with this sort of detail in it it would be in the billions of dollars. (That is with a B)
This church also offers a spectacular view of Florence.
Once we finished looking around we caught the bus back down towards town. We really did not know where we were going, just winging it. Well we got off the bus a bit past where we were suppose to so we started walking back towards the Ponte Vecchio as we had a tour booked for 1:30 and we did not want to miss it. But we needed lunch.
Vance found this little out of the way restaurant, that did not cater to tourists at all. It was perfect. The food was outstanding, the wine good, (and cheap @ $3.50 for a litre!) If we could ever find it again, we would go back or at least recommend it to others.
Our first tour was for the Uffizi Gallery and our second tour, right after it was for the Accademia Gallery – where David is on display.
The Uffizi was great. Lots of art from artists that I had read about before, but have never seen, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Giotto, Titian, Michelangelo, Raphael and so many more. It is quite different seeing the works in a book and then seeing the real thing up close. After the Uffizi we headed to the Accademia.
The whole purpose of the visit to the Accademia is to see Michelangelo’s David. On the way the guide explained how it came about that Michelangelo carved this piece and where it was to be located. It was going to be part of the Duomo, but once the city rulers saw it they deemed it too good and too important to be on display up high on top of part of the Duomo and it should go in front of City Hall, representing Florence. In 1873 it was moved from outside into the gallery where it lives today.
This is one piece of work that really takes your breath away when you see it. Even though the replica in front of the City Hall is exactly the same, there is something about seeing it in the Accademia that sent shivers up my spine. If I could only come to Florence to see one thing, this would have been it.
After leaving the Accademia we headed back to our apartment to freshen up, drink some wine and headed out for dinner. It was a long day, with lots of walking, but oh what a day.