Signoria is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. We were lucky enough
to find a place that we could barely afford just off the piazza-- Relais Uffizi ;It's a little hard to
find, located down a little alley way, but the breakfast room has views directly
onto the square. We really enjoyed staying in the center of the city.
The Uffizi was two minutes from our doorway, the Ponte Vecchio was
less than five minutes away, and it was a pleasant stroll up to the Duomo.
In this photo, I'm standing near the spot where Savonarola, famous
for his "Bonfire of the Vanities," was himself burned about 500 years ago.
| The Uffizi Gallery
is found in this long, U-shaped building that stretches from the Arno River
up to Piazza della Signoria. The entrance to the gallery is found through
the columns (on the left side of the photo). The museum is the oldest
(and one of the most famous) public art museums in the world. Packed
with works from Giotto, Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio
among others, the Uffizi is always packed. It is essential
to reserve ahead or plan to spend most of your valuable time in Florence
standing in line. There is now a ticket web site on which one can purchase advance tickets and make reservations. You can make reservations for other Florence museums at the same site, but they're really only necessary for the Uffizi and the Accademia (for the David).
||The Pitti Palace
has a number of museums that one can visit, but the most famous (and the
only one we chose to visit) is the Palatine Gallery. In it are displayed
the works in the private collection of the Medicis. (You can also reserve
your time for a visit to the Palatine Gallery at the same number above,
but unless you're unlucky enough to get there just as two or three groups
are scheduled to go through, you should be able to get in without a reservation.)
After visiting the typical gallery where the paintings are carefully
arranged to allow optimal viewing, the Palatine is a shock. With barely
a gap in the wall space between the paintings, it's packed with hundreds
of paintings almost from floor to ceiling in each room Without a guide
or guidebook of some kind, you're sure to miss something important. Before
leaving the Pitti Palace, be sure to visit the Boboli Gardens in the rear
for some wonderful views over the city.
|The Loggia dei Lanzi
is one of the most important buildings on the Piazza della Signoria primarily
because of the important statues underneath. It was doubly important
to us because it served as the landmark leading us to the tiny alleway leading
back to our hotel. I don't think we've ever been to Florence that
some of the statues weren't covered, but luckily one of Brenda's favorites
was "out of the box." Perseus holding the head of Medusa was crafted
by Cellini and remains a favorite of many visitors to the Loggia today.
||In Piazsa del
Duomo, behind the cathedral, you can find the Museo dell'Opera. We'd
been to Florence several times before we happened upon this small treasure.
In addition to a Pieta by Michelangelo and a statue of Mary Magdalene
by Donatello, you can see the original panels from the Baptistry Doors. The
originals were moved to the museum and replaced by copies after they were
damaged by flood waters in 1966.
|This photo of the
Church of S. Spirito is included on this page for one reason only: to
remind everyone who takes photos during travel to act early in identifying
the photos. Otherwise, years later, you'll be sitting around looking
at photos, wondering "Where in the heck was I?" When I got these photos
out to sort out what I wanted to include on the web page, I thought this
might be a photo of San Marco. (We've unsucessfully tried to see Fra
Angelico's "Annunciation" there on three different occasions. The opening
times are apparently random.) In fact, S. Spirito is on the opposite
side of the city, between the Pitti Palace and the Carmine Church. It
was only with the help of a response from a knowledgable person on the AOL
Travel Forum that I was able to identify it. So, don't let your photos
sit; brain matter withers faster than Kodak paper.