Florence – Firenze: cradle of the Renaissance

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On day 5 we left in the morning for a full day in Florence. Coming from the south, from Figline Valdarno, we left the A1 highway in Firenze Sud and headed for the centre, parking our car in the large two floor underground parking Sant’Ambrogio, located just outside the pedestrian zone. The rate is 1,5 euro/hour. From here it is a mere 10 min. walk to the centre.

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From the parking walk towards the Sant Croce church, built by the Franciscans to compete with Santa Maria Novelle church at the other side of the city, a task they did well. Next to the church is a leather bookbinding school you can visit. The church is very large and beautiful from the outside and houses the graves of Galileo Galilei, Machiavelli, Michelangelo and Marconi adding to the wealth of this church. We continued in the direction of the river Arno to have a first look at Ponte Vecchio from Ponte Alle Grazie.

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From there we continued to Galleria degli Uffizi. Walk through the palazzo Vecchio at the Piazza Della Sinoria, the city townhouse. Take a look at the copy of David by Michelangelo on one side and the statue of Medusa at the other side of the entrance of the Palazzo Vechio. Being a bit early we took a coffee at Sun cafe just around the corner. (free Wifi)

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If you want to visit the Uffizi, you best to book you tickets online in advance. With your reservation you first have to get your tickets on one side of the gallery (entrance 3), and then enter the museum by entrance 1, on the other side with your tickets. You can only get you tickets ten minutes before your time slot starts.

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The galleria used to be the offices of the Cosimo I de Medici. Now it houses sone of the most important art collections in the world. Giorgio Vasari was from 1559 curator of this building project, unique in its small and high construction that reminds of the perspective of a street. You find two important pieces by Boticelli, the Birth of Venus and Primavera, the double portrait of
Montefeltro and his wife by Piero Della Francesca, one of the first paintings of Leonarda Da Vinci, painted when he was only twenty, the beautiful Mathematical room, with pearl inlay in the ceiling, beautiful iconography, paintings by Rafael, Titian, Rubens, Caravaggio.

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Halfway you have a beautiful view on the Ponte Vecchio from up high. By the time you get to the first floor, it is almost too much to take in. The museum boasts free Wifi, they have an app that you best download before, that can give you extra information through scanning QR codes placed throughout the museum. It is not advertised very well, but definitely interesting, especially since the audio guide here is not so really good!

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We walked towards the Duomo, after stopping for a light lunch and some cooling down in the airconditioning of Bar La Badia, via del Proconsole 1r. The Duomo is simply huge and mouth dropping. We did not go inside (although the entrance is free) because of the long queue to get in. In front of the Duomo stands the Battistero, in admiration of John the Baptist, patron saint of Florence. The bronze doors are by Pisano and Ghiberti, and the door at the east side ( they are all copies), is known as “The door to paradise”, after Michelangelo gave it that name. Because of the queues here we did not go inside.

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From here we walked to Santa Maria Novella, which is a bit of a let down after the the first two churches (Santa Croce and the Duomo). From there past the palazzo Strozzi, the palazzo Altovito, the Santa Trinita, and the palazzo Spini-Ferroni to the Santa Trinita bridge to see the Ponte Vecchio from the other side.

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We stopped first for an ice-cream , at gelateria Carapina, Via Lambertesca 18 r, just one street before the bridge. Cross the Ponte Vecchio, and have a cocktail at cafe Golden View, with views of the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio (Via de Bardi 58r, free Wifi) When we arrived at palazzo Pitti, it was already closed and so it was too late to visit the Boboli gardens.

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Being hungry we went to eat in Borgo Antico, and got inside just in time before a huge thunderstorm broke loose outside. (Piazza Santo Spirito) You can choose between pasta, pizza or salads. They serve very good pizza’s and a wonderful calzone pizza. In and outside it is very pleasant to sit and enjoy your lunch or dinner. (Free Wifi)

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By the time we finished the downpour had finished as well and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset on Ponte Santa Trinita with views of Ponte Vecchio on one side and the other bridges over the Arno on the other side. What a wonderful end of the day!

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