In case you miss it, take a gander HERE and check out my suggestions and tips when in Rome and Florence.
After getting back from a full-day trip to Tuscany, I looked thoroughly at my self-made itinerary and was happy that we had been able to see quite a bit and everything was going swimmingly. The weather had been beyond fantastic thus allowed us to enjoy Florence, Cinque Terre, and Tuscany to the fullest.
However, there were several other high-priority places that had to be visited such as Uffizi Gallery, Galleria dell’Accademia, Piazzale Michelangelo, and Garden of Boboli. Who would want to leave Florence without seeing the real David statue in the flesh? Or catch the most glorious sunset that Florence has to offer? We surely didn’t want to miss out on those, so were quite determined to make them happen at whatever costs on our last day in town.
Uffizi Gallery is open at 8:15AM everyday. The inner tourist in me figured that not a lot of tourists would wake up really early to line up especially on Sunday, which in hindsight was such a naive and silly miscalculation. We woke up early and took our time to prepare and have breakfast. The day started off chilly and gloomily, which made me a tad anxious whether we would be able to do everything we had planned to do since some required weather’s cooperation.
It began drizzling when we were making our way to the Uffizi, so I thought “This is just perfect. We can hide in the museum until it stops raining.” Upon arrival, we were completely floored at how obscenely long the line was and even more so after learning from the guard that it’d take at least 1.5 hours to get in. I almost blurted out: “That’s a freaking joke, right? We won’t get in until 11, so when can we finish? We’re leaving Florence tomorrow and there’s a long-ass list of places we have yet to see.” Being a civilized person that I am, I stopped myself short of course and silently cursed myself why I didn’t reserve tickets at one of the most crowed places in the world.
We waited for approximately 10 minutes before impatience got the better of me.
I told my sister to wait in line as I made my way to the ticket counter and asked. Among a few pearls of wisdom that I have attained during the past 24 years of existence, one that has proved to work like a charm every single time is that every problem is solvable if you ask the right person. After a 2-minute conversation, the queue-up issue was fixed.
Here is how it works: For those who forget to reserve tickets online before you visit, there is this option of making ticket reservations on the spot for a specific time slot on the day assigned by the museum. There are different time slots throughout the day, each of which is 15 (or 20) minutes apart. You pay an additional $4 reservation fee on top of the ticket itself, which I believe you will have to pay anyway when you book your ticket online. You arrive at the chosen time and are able to get in right away without having to line up.
We booked ours at 1PM so that we could have a proper lunch to get mentally and physically ready for the otherworldly arts inside the Uffizi. Afterwards, we quickly headed to Galleria dell’Accademia and did the same thing. With reservations at both places in hands, we felt very assured and spent the rest of the morning either wandering around aimlessly or hiding somewhere when it drizzled steadily and watching the world go by. Which was immensely pleasant. We came back to Zio Gigi for lunch because the dinner the other day was such a delight. We pushed our luck this time, though because the meals fell short of expectations. The steak was salty and not tender enough while the meatball pasta was…forgettable. The most memorable part of the whole Zio Gigi experience was most likely the exuberant owner himself. Before we left, we asked to take photos with him. We made it back to Uffizi Gallery in time for our visit. Pictures aren’t allowed inside so there is no photographic evidence for your enjoyment. The collections of paintings and sculptures that Uffizi Gallery houses and their beauty are utterly out of this world. I’m not a history or arts buff by nature, but seeing those works of arts was a tremendously eye-opening experience and made me all the more appreciative of the significance of history and arts in our lives.
The other part about Uffizi that I love is that it is manageable in a few hours, meaning that arts or opulence overdose would most likely not occur. Also, there is this beautiful view of the Arno River and Ponte Vecchio at the end of the corridors to re-awaken your senses if you happen to get dizzy from all the artworks.
I know a lot of guides recommend the coffee shop on the top floor of the museum with a panoramic view of the Duomo. We went as well but found it underwhelming. Everything in the shop is expensive, and the view isn’t even impressive. To each his own, I guess. When we got out of the museum, it was raining though not heavily. We hid in a gelato shop across the street and watched the world go by, again. I myself found Florence in the rain just as romantic and serene if not even more so. The Duomo after the rain. I was quite happy with this shot because my collection of the Duomo up to that point mostly consisted of glorious moments like sunrise, sunset, or late nights. This shot completed the collection and showcased the Duomo in a less than glamorous light. Which one is your favorite? On our way to Galleria dell’Accademia. I breathed a heavy sigh of relief the moment I arrived at the museum. Even at 4.30PM (and it’s close at 6.30PM if I remember correctly), the line was still unbelievably absurd. We didn’t have a lot of time left, so we headed straight to the single most important sculpture in the Accademia, which is Michelangelo’s statue of David. OH.MY.GOD. It really is such a magnificent masterpiece.
I spent a good 20 minutes circling the statue and examined it from every angle. Pure perfection. I was simply speechless. There is a no-camera policy inside; however, even if we were allowed to take pictures, I wouldn’t do it because no photo could come close to capturing the greatness of David.
One of the trivial conclusions I drew after seeing all the statues in Italy is that we need to stop blaming the fashion industry for always imposing impossible beauty standards as in sculpted cheekbones, 6-pack abs, toned arms and legs etc. Those warped ideas of beauty really originated from the Romans, and the fashion industry just take some cues here and there. Right? LOL. For dinner, we gave Coquinarius another shot and hit a home run that night. We arrived early, didn’t have to wait and savored some heavenly ravioli and seafood salad. I don’t know whether it was my overactive imagination again or not, but the chic and minimalistic decor made the dining experience all the more delightful. Be it fashion or decor, I’m such a sucker for minimalism but ironically, I fail badly at adopting the minimalist lifestyle even just to a minuscule extent. Why?There were three choices after dinner, which was retreating to our hotel or wandering around aimlessly again or visiting Piazzale Michelangelo. The last choice was what we originally planned, but after a long day out and about and trying to absorb so much arts and history we were relatively beat. Furthermore, Piazzale Michelangelo is so far on the other side of the river. Whether getting there on foot or by bus, it would take at least half an hour. I figured it would be so dark by then that there was no way to enjoy the beauty of Florence at night. It doesn’t help that I’m afraid of the dark. LOL.
We made up all the lame excuses not to go but in a twisted turn of event still found ourselves on the number 13 bus. If you have taken the same bus to Piazzale Michelangelo before, you know that the route is lined up with beautiful cypress trees and gives off such a tranquil and quite vibe. Heading to a forest would best describe it.
However, heading to a forest when it gets dark sounds more like a creepy scene taken out of a horror movie. Seriously, my overactive imagination cooked up literally 100 different scenarios of how I was going to die there. Not until the bus stopped at Piazzale Michelangelo and I saw many people did those morbid thoughts go away.
I would never have thought in a million years that the view at that particular time on that particular day would be that mind-blowing and magical. I stood there admiring the glorious sunset and the last radiant rays of light the sun cast on the brilliant architectural works far below. A million thoughts were running through my mind, the most predominant of which was how it was possible to build up such a spectacular city from such an early age without all the assistance of modern technologies and how infinite human beings’ creativity and power are.