- We stayed in a hotel along the river in Florence. Anna recommended it to us – thanks Anna! Happily for Mother dear, who dislikes the bustling areas of large cities, it was in a quiet part of the city but also within striking distance of the museums.
- The day we arrived we took a tour of the secret rooms of the Vecchio Palace. Our guide, a very enthusiastic and knowledgable Italian art major, showed us normally inaccessible place rooms, where some of the 14th and 15th century occupants stored their alchemy items in a complex system of cabinets hidden by paintings corresponding to the contents within. He also took us into the attic to see the way the ceiling of the largest room is kept from falling down. He gave an impressive tour. We explored the rest of the ridiculously ornate palace – all of the ceilings and walls were frescoed or painted or decorated in some fashion – after our tour.
Mom and I met and briefly talked to a UNC-Chapel Hill student. I was wearing my UNC t-shirt, so he stopped us, surprised to see anyone wearing one on this side of the world. Maybe I’ll run into him this coming school year.
- The morning of our second day in Florence, Tuesday, we drove the hour and a half to Pisa solely to get a glimpse of the Leaning Tower. We admired, snapped a few pictures, and jumped back in the car to return to Florence more or less in time for our reserved entrance to the Ufizzi Gallery, where our eyes soon glazed over from staring at so much art. The famous Birth of Venus was there, as well as some Rafaels and works by other well-known painters. I remembered the museum from my previous trip to Italy.
- An hour after we stumbled out of the Ufizzi, we staggered into the Accademia Gallery. Besides the ever-incredible David statue by Michaelango and its crowd of gazers and sketchers, we enjoyed an exhibit of musical instruments that included some Stradivarius violins and a few of the first modern pianos.
- Besides its obvious historical and art-related attractions, I imagine that many people go to Florence for the shopping. The area around the museums was positively overflowing with name-brand, high-end shops with bright window displays and tantalizing air conditioning.
- Florence was hot. I think it was worse than Venice. Most places were not air conditioned. We never stopped sweating. After a while you sort of become accustomed to it. But not really.