Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Day Trip to Florence

Living on Reputation

I've visited Florence many times over the past 30 plus years. It has always been an essential stop on any itinerary to Europe.

Florence The Gothic and Renaissance Treasure Chest

Today we had a day trip planned where some of the group would go to the Uffizi, some the Accademia (David), and some both. Since I had just been to the Uffizi two years ago, I passed on the Uffizi and limited my culture stop to the Accademia.

We parked at the incredibly convenient lot at Porta Romana. It is just behind the Roman wall. Here, you can park all day and pay at departure with a credit card. From this lot the Palazzo Pitti, Boboli Gardens and the Ponte Vecchio are a remarkably easy walk.

The Uffizi Gallery and The Arno
Note The Little Square Windows Above the Arcade 
They Identify the Vassari Corridor 
(The Medici's Secure Link Between Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Vecchio)

Florence is filled with Gothic and Renaissance treasures. It is home to Michelangelo's David, Botticelli's Birth of Venus, Brunelleschi's engineering masterpiece Il Duomo, Palazzo Pitti, and Ghiberti's incredible bronze baptistery doors (which took 27 years to cast and Michelangelo proclaimed "The Gates of Paradise".)

These are amazing sights found nowhere else on earth. Florence's crowds provide some of the finest people watching anywhere.

Clowning Around at the Pitti Palace

Nonetheless, two years ago in a visit here I found myself having to make excuses for Florence. I'd explain "Oh, it used to be much cleaner." Or "It didn't use to to be such a tourist trap". or, "They used to take such good care of the Duomo and the Uffizi". And finally "Oh it sure has been getting more and more crowded".

Sadly, my visit today simply confirmed my impressions of two years ago. While I know Florence is (and always will be) the favorite destination for many (and used to be for me as well,) much of Florence today is just inexcusably dirty, poorly maintained, increasingly rude, and wildly expensive. Some examples: The Boboli Gardens - just a hillside of raked rocks and dead plants. The Uffizi - Ill kept, poorly lit, and hot. The food - had restaurants charge $6 for a can of coke and $10 for a cup of gelato.

 A Classic Cappucino Bar

 The Ponte Vecchio
Former Home to Butcher Shops 
Now Home to Gold and Jewelry Shopss

A Glimpse Into One of Florence's Private Garden

Perseus Slays Medusa
(What is With The "Holding Up A Head I Chopped Off" Statuary?)   

So, in sum, plan a day trip. Come, sample Florence's incredible treasures. Then leave it.

Stay in Siena or somewhere in the peaceful Tuscan countryside.

Roadboys Travel © 2011  

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