June 3: Firenze (day 1)
Luca left Lucca in the morning before we woke up. Such a hard-working guy!
We had a lovely buffet breakfast at the hotel before heading out to the train station. Today we were off to Firenze to see what the fuss is all about.
The train trip was around an hour, and we landed in Firenze in the late morning. We walked to the nearest TI to get a map of the city, and find out when the various museums were open. As today is Sunday, many of the museums were likely to have reduced hours.
With hours in hand, we headed over towards the Accademia. We stumbled upon the Piazza Medici, with a beautiful old church and an accompanying museum. The church was in service, so we didn't go in, and the museum was closed, but we vowed to return.
We then walked towards where we thought the Accademia was, and stumbled across another beautiful piazza, with the S.S. Annunziata church. We went in, and discovered this magnificent church with beautiful church artwork, frescoes, and gilded and painted walls and ceilings. Again, a service was in progress, and we were too intimidated to stay long (especially when the priest snapped his fingers at us when we sat down somewhere where we weren't supposed to). Hopefully we'll be able to return later.
Moving on down the street, we visited the Archeological Museum, which had interesting displays of Egyptian artifacts (mummies, urns and crypts) and Etruscan pieces. It also had a nice view of the Duomo from one of the rooms.
We left the museum after seeing all it had to offer and went to see about getting into the Uffizi. We passed Palazzo Vecchio, next to the Uffizi, but it was closed. We admired the loggia of the Uffizi, and stood in awe at the long line to get in. Instead, we went over to the reservations line and made a reservation for the first day available, Wednesday.
Being mid-afternoon, it was time for an espresso. We sat down at a cafe in the piazza adjacent to Palazzo Vecchio, and ordered two espresso doppio, without looking at the price. When we got the bill, we were shocked: 11,000 lire each! We will never again order without asking first for the price!
We then walked around piazza Duomo, and then paid a visit to the Campanile, walking up the 414 stairs to the top. It was a long and very narrow staircase, with several landings along the way at which one could rest and enjoy a beautiful view of Firenze.
We met a tour group from Australia. An American guy in his 30s huffed and puffed his way to the top, complaining about the level of exertion required, while a French woman in her 70s who needed a cane for support had no problems climbing to the top. The view from the top was spectacular, and we had no need to climb to the top of the Duomo for a similar view.
By this time, the weather was starting to get bad, and it was raining a little bit and there was some thunder and lightning. We took a bunch of pictures, and then waited our turn to descend the staircase.
By now, the line to get into the Duomo had disappeared, and we walked right in. The Duomo is another spectacular Italian church with many fine examples of the religious art of the period. It is well worth seeing.
It was time to get back to Lucca, so we headed over to the train station, got on the train and went back home. After arriving back in Lucca, we had a lovely pasta meal at a local restaurant. We had gelato for dessert and then went back to the hotel to crash and to do laundry.