Hope you are doing well! I have a great travel post to take your mind off work and any bad weather!
A couple of years ago, Kathleen and I went on a trip to Italy to pursue our archaeological dreams! We worked in Pompeii, Italy during the week, but weekends were for us to explore! Our second weekend there, we decided on Florence! Best decision ever. Like I said, we would work Monday thru Friday so a lot of our travelling had to wait until after a work day! SO, really we just had an evening, Saturday, and Sunday to do all of our sight seeing! I know it’s a really short time, but try not to overbook your trip with too many museums! You probably want to see a lot, but you can always go back. It’s ok, just remember it’s your trip and take some time to relax!
I know this is hard to do, so try thinking of it as this: there are two kinds of places you visit. Some cities are experience cities, and some are heavy sightseeing places. The experience places are very much like visiting Florence. It’s walking around, looking at a couple sights, but more so just experiencing the city and the people in the city! It’s going for wine and doing some fine dining, walking around the city looking at beautiful artworks, etc. Other cities are like Rome (which I will talk about in another post)! It’s more sightseeing and touring around! These kinds of places you load up with tours and museums. Remember two things when you visit these places: don’t overbook like I said before, and really research museums as well! Only go to museums you want to visit- don’t go because you have to go or everyone else is. I promise you will have a much better time. Definitely do your research!
Anyways, back to Florence! This is how our weekend went!
We didn’t have time to go and see anything, because it was so late, so we went for a night walk instead and checked into our Air bnb. Our place was so adorable. It was like real city living in a big city, where we had to walk up six flights of stairs and everything in an apartment is tiny? I LOVED it! You could look out the window into a small courtyard or see your neighbors in the apartments across from you. I recommend going for a walk around. We went to a chip place and ate (seriously go to the chip restaurants- aka fries with very good dips). We walked by some pretty great places- such as the duomo, saw some modern artwork, and learned a valuable lesson: in Italy everything closes around 10:00! Yes they eat supper late, but that’s it! No friday night parties, etc! They days they stay out late are Sundays- so weird right?
Florence is full of art- from ancient Roman art to modern! If you walk around, you’ll see lots of beautiful modern graffiti! It’s so amazing to see how art has changed from ancient to modern times!The blocks are very cool too. They’re so narrow and lovely ranging from old to new!
We woke up and went for a morning walk to eat our way through gelato- I had chocolate with chili flakes! I was in heaven! It was cold, hot, like eating cinnamon gum or something! It wasn’t overfly spicy and the chocolate was amazing!
Anyways, we met up with some of our roommates on the Ponte Vecchio bridge! It’s a famous, medieval bridge with tons of shops built on it! Most of them are jewelry stores, and there’s tons of like gelato places and little tourist shops around the area. So hang out! Do some shopping and please drinks all the wine and eat all the pizza!
The only other site we did that day, was walk through the Uffizi Gallery! This is a massive art museum- I’m not joking, it’s huge. Expect to take a least half a day to walk through it. So there’s two things I recommend- buy tickets in advance if you can, and bring proof that you’re a student if you are one. So for the tickets, it’s better to buy them in advance because you will be standing in a long line if not. It doesn’t have to be crazy in advance, you could do it before you leave or you could do it the day before in your hotel. But it reserves your spot for you. Also, if you are an archaeologist or an architect, you get a discount to any museum in Italy, so BRING PROOF. If you’re a student you get a discount- so again bring proof! You can get international student ids from here: https://isiccanada.ca/ . If you don’t live in Canada, no sweat, I think you can just look up international student card and it will come up for your country. My British friends- I’m so sorry about Brexit, but you can do the same and get a discount! So these two things could help you out to reserve a spot and get a discount! Do this for ANY country! There are some sights you HAVE to book in advance, like the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
The Uffizi Gallery is awesome, but a ton of art work. They have a few major pieces that you might recognize such as, The Birth of Venus, Botticelli. This is their most famous piece and it is very cool to see! The other Botticelli artwork I actually love way more than The Birth of Venus, but still very cool to say that I’ve seen that! Another piece, called Madonna with a long neck by Parmigianino- you will be able to say you have seen hundreds of Madonna and child artwork and Saint Peter the Baptist. It is cool to see how the style has changed over time! There’s also artwork like Judith Beheading Holoferines by Artemisia Gentileschi ( I remember thinking this was gruesome when I saw it- I wasn’t expecting that!), and Annunciation with Saint margaret and Saint Ansanus by Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi- this was taken out of a chapel. Very cool.
If you’re finding you’re not really into artwork that much, but still want to see something but be there for less time, than go to the Accademia Gallery. This is where the statue of David is! I did not go so I have less information about this museum! My roommates and I split up at this point, some of us went to a different museum and the rest wanted to see artwork! The Bargello is where more of Michelangelo’s artwork is kept. If you are like me and want to spend the last day elsewhere, and still want to see some artwork, don’t fret! The fake statue of David is beside the Uffizi Gallery and in front of Palazzo Vecchio. I can now say I went all the way to Florence to see Fake David.
The rest of this evening was spent walking around, eating amazing food, and drinking tons of wine. Seriously amazing! There are tons of cool little shops you can go through and then some brand name, and expensive stores. I found a guy outside the cathedral who was painting with watercolors and bought a mini painting of the cathedral. It was beautiful and I lost it! This was my biggest heartbreak, I believe.
When you’re walking around, everything is close together, so you should see all the big sites! I think one other thing to note is the Florence Cathedral from the 1200s. It’s a medieval building that is basically in the center of Florence. Connected is a bapistery and further down and inside the Santa Croce is Michelangelo and Galileo’s tombs which I will be going back to, to see! Seriously. RESEARCH. I missed this little bit of info when I was deciding what to do and so regret not seeing the tombs while i was there! Oh well, looks like I’ll be heading back! There’s also some crazy fountains to see- like the Fountain of Neptune (Poseidon for the Greeks) and there is also a really cool library by the duomo! Also they have a Lindor chocolate store around the duomo (sorry, duomo is Italian for church if you’re like what the heck is she talking about) so walk around and find it and eat/ buy ALL the chocolate! No regrets!
Day #3: The Last Day
Like I said earlier, we separated from our friends, because I didn’t want to see more artwork. I would have, but on our walk by the river, we saw the Galileo museum and IT WAS A MUST SEE! This museum is cheap to go see and well setup. It’s not really busy because I feel like people overlook it to go see artwork. I don’t think I would have known about it if we hadn’t walked by it! It has all of Galileo’s works and inventions. There’s some other inventions by other scientists, but it’s heavily Galileo! Once again, it’s so cool to see how science has changed throughout time too! Here I thought I was in a heavy art area, but there was also a little touch of science to explore as well! The museum has different areas of science, because sometimes scientists didn’t stick to one area like they do now! There is a ton of space research, some biology. Galielo researched about speed, velocity and could be considered an engineer for some of his different designs and tests, as well as a physicist, and philosopher! If you go there, you can see his fingers in a glass jar and some teeth.
I think after this, we just went for some Eggs Florentine (one girl had wanted to come to Florence to eat eggs Florentine, which is not a thing and is actually hard to find where they make this- who knew?!), and we took the train back home!
So I hope this helps you decide what to see and how to spend your time when you travel! Travelling is something I’m very passionate about, so share your experiences with me and give me some suggestions on what I should see!