After very wet and delayed journey to Florence from Warsaw via Bergamo and Milan, Craig and I settled in for four nights in the beautiful city again. We ate in on our first night back, enjoying veal in a rich tomato sauce with fresh bread and salad from our local supermarket. After dinner however we ventured out towards Santa Maria Nouvella to enjoy the Gelati Festival that was being held.
It may surprise some people but I cannot actually eat chocolate. Shock, horror, I know, so my biggest weakness is ice cream or in this case gelati. As we walked into the piazza near Santa Maria Nouvella, I grinned. All around us were stalls with delicious cabinets full of gelati. The purpose of the festival is to enlighten people about the history of gelati and the importance of the freshness and quality of the ingredients. Similar to the international “Taste ‘___’ ” festivals, you could purchase a gelato card for 10Euro which gave you five tastings and one gelati cocktail. Even better, if after those five you wanted more, you could have more for half price; My idea of heaven.
So armed with our precious coupons, Craig and I made our way around the stalls. We sampled Marcia Garbin’s Coffee infused with Kaffir Lime flavour, Giampiero Burgio’s Sheep’s milk riccota, pine nuts and honey flavour, Andrea Portolani’s panetone (Christmas cake) flavour, Cristina Berto’s black rice flavour and my personal favourite Antonio Mezzalira’s caramel and pine nut gelati. It was delicious mouthful, after delicious mouthful, after delicious mouthful. Needless to say on such a beautiful evening a sunset walk was in order. We wandered across the Ponte Santa Trinita, pausing to snap this photo, and then up past the Ponte Vecchio to where we were staying.
When we visited the Uffizi gallery at 8.30am, the line was already around 100-150 people long, whilst the reserved ticket line only about twenty. We started with the Birth of Venus (1486), after a rather long walk up the five flights of stairs. The infamous Botticelli painting is held along with one of Italy’s best collections of sculptures dating from 1200AD to today. The gallery itself is huge! It took a little over an hour and a half to cover only the first part (on the second floor. I would recommend a visit and ensure that you have several hours available.
We then visited the Piazza Pitti, which backs onto the Giardino Boboli (a large 16th Century garden). The Pitti Palace was the home of the famous Medici family, and the Giardino Boboli was commisioned and designed by Elenora di Toledo (Cosimo I de’Medici‘s wife). The palace now houses several museums, Craig and I visited the Costume and Modern Art Museum, both of which were extremely interesting. I particularly enjoyed learning about the restoration of Elenora and Cosimo’s burial clothing, which is now displayed in the Costume museum. But the garden was a lot of fun, especially the egg that I found standing around.
Our final gallery visit was to the Accademia Gallery, to view the famous statue of David by Michaelangelo. We managed to get there with only an hour of opening remaining and were surprised at the lack of queues. The staute itself is amazing, the incredible hewn marble gleams and the intricate lines of the body are a testament to Michaelangelo’s workmanship. When you stand in front of it, you cannot help but be in awe of the skill that is must have taken in order to have sculpted something so life like. I have to say that out of all the galleries I visited the highlight of my trip was this one.
As you can probably imagine, after several days of museum hunting Craig and I were starving so we tried the Ristorante dell’oste close to the Santa Maria Nouvella train station. It was amazing and good value for money, so good we went twice.
Ginga Musings out for Florence, Check in next time for Siena and Perugia!