Today I am about to write my exploration of Florence both from yesterday and today.
Upon arriving yesterday after all the adventures, I ventured out to explore the city a bit. A walking tour was to start at 5 PM (they call it afternoon here!). So I had about 4 hours to kill. I decided to take some pictures around (art everywhere), grab some lunch and get a feel of the area. The churches looked interesting with green and white marble facades, some with only bricks and some with yellowish brown stones. Walking around I also reached a street market – San Lorenzo Market which was full of vendors with leather goods – bags and jackets. I didn’t notice any shoes though. There is also an indoor market there – Mercato Centrale – see the one with the green roof in the picture below. That has food stalls.
There is of course a basilica of San Lorenzo around. Interesting thing is that it has only the brick structure in the facade which was made in such a way so that marble could be laid on top of it. Michelangelo was given that task in 1518 but Florence is still waiting for the marble to come from Carrara!
I was hungry and after some futile search for gluten-free vegetarian food even at restaurants marked in tripadvisor, I landed in an Asian fusion cuisine restaurant. The waitress there told me she could get me the hot and sour soup with rice noodles and no meat. It was a huge portion and quite alright.
It is huge – as I got to know today – the 5th largest church in the world.
And now it was time to start the tour. So I came to the Santa Maria Novella church in front of which everyone was supposed to assemble.
We started for the tour about the Medici family. Very intriguing. I need to write one post separately about that! For now, just know that they started with the Banking business and became the Dukes of Florence. Four members of the clan even became Popes! Business, politics and religion – the three pillars of medieval times.
Once done, I was exhausted with all the walking but still did some more on my own and looked at the shop windows, curbed my desire to buy things and then came back to the hotel. It is crazy with the buses here. The schedules written at the bus stops seem to be valid sometimes and invalid at another. So you can never be sure!
Thankfully I reached when I reached because as I told yesterday, it rained cats and dogs all night long and also this morning!
Due to the heavy rain, I could start today only just in time to reach for the Renaissance walking tour. That was good too but it was still raining from time to time – so a bit difficult to manage taking notes, pictures and saving all the paraphernalia from rain! Would write another post just for this tour and what I learnt about Renaissance art.
After that got over, I went in search for food. Luckily I came across a shop that had everything gluten-free in it! Enjoyed a slice of pizza margharita and a fruit tart.
Thus fuelled, I moved ahead and thought of what next to do. Reached the Uffizi gallery and remembered the words of the receptionist from this morning – that when he came to Florence for the first time, it was for about 6 hours and he spent the time in this gallery to absorb all the art.
And looks like the guides there read my mind or just noticed that I was getting deterred by the queue and one of them approached me. The agency offered guided tour of the gallery with no standing in the queue for the ticket. It was quite expensive but I took it. Now I realize that I should have taken the earlier slot because the last slot meant having to rush through everything and not having the time to explore on your own even though the ticket allows that. Anyway, that was lesson for today.
While waiting for the time, I went to look at some of the spots suggested by the guide today morning. Even splurged a bit in shopping (yes, the self-control of yesterday was gone). And then returned for the tour.
Now the Uffizi was originally the administrative office of the Medicis – Cosimo the First got it constructed. It was turned first into a private art gallery for all the collections of the Medici family by Francesco – the son of Cosimo and then became a state museum when the last female of the clan – Anna Maria Medici willed everything to the people of Florence to prevent the taking away of the artistic treasure from Florence. The tour was very informative and showed the most important pieces of the gallery – MichelAngelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Carvaggio to name a few illustrious artists. A lot of Greek and Roman sculptures were there as well but the tour didn’t spend much time on that. Some pieces below for a glimpse.
I ended my day by having nice Indian food for dinner. And then with no plans for tomorrow, I go to sleep now.