June 6: Firenze and Siena
After breakfast, we left Palazzo Alexander, luggage in tow, and walked over to the train station where we hopped a train to Firenze. Today we had a reservation at the Uffizi.
After arriving at the station, we left our luggage in the baggage storage place and headed into Firenze. Our Uffizi reservation wasn't until 11:45, so we had a little time to do some shopping beforehand.
I really wanted to find the red dress that I'd seen at Max Mara in Vicenza, so we went over to Max Mara. The first store didn't have it, but they showed us where their other store was. We visited there, but again, they didn't have the dress. So we went over to the Tod's/Hogan's store, where I bought a nice pair of white leather mules.
From there, we walked over to the Uffizi, where we were able to get in without waiting in the very long line due to our reservation. A short wait inside and we were let into the museum proper.
The Uffizi is laid out in chronological order, which is very nice because you can see how the styles of painting progressed from the dark ages through the renaissance and beyond. The corridor which links the various galleries is lined with statues of caesars and other classical sculptures and busts. Above the statues are portraits and paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. In the galleries we saw some incredible paintings by Botticelli, Michaelangelo, Titian, Da Vinci and others. This museum is definitely worth seeing.
After touring the Uffizi, we went to Piazza Della Signoria and found a pizzeria with reasonable prices and sat down for a very nice meal. At this point, we were somewhat tired, so after eating lunch, we took a quick stroll back to the train station across Ponte Vecchio and along the fiume Arno. We collected our luggage, and headed over to the bus station where we caught a bus to Siena. (Taking the bus to Siena is faster than taking the train.)
The bus ride took us slightly less than 2 hours to get to Siena. The bus dropped us off at the main bus terminal, and we took a cab to our hotel, the Hotel Arcoboleno. Hotel Arcoboleno is situated about a mile outside of the old town, on a busy street (the main street leading to Siena).
We checked into the hotel and walked up to the third floor where our room was. (The hotel has no elevator.) Our room was quiet but spartan, quite a contrast from Palazzo Alexander. The phones were wired into the wall, so it would be another night where I could not connect. However, I was quite pleased to discover that they have an internet access point downstairs with a DSL line, no less! So I was able to check e-mail.
After putting our stuff away and collecting a map from the concierge, we headed into town (on foot) to explore. We walked about a mile to get inside the walls to the old town. It was evening passegiata time, and there were tons of people strolling through Siena. Most of where we were walking was closed to cars, so it was quite pleasant.
Siena is a very hilly down, and is situated on the top of a hill. The streets are cobbled, and lined with restaurants and shops of all kinds. Most of the people walking along seemed to be residents, rather than tourists, which I found surprising.
We passed a Max Mara store, so I had to go in and see if they had my red dress. They did, and they had it in my size, so I bought it and another shirt, and had them fill out my VAT refund slip before leaving.
We continued on until we reached Piazza del Campo, the famous square (well it's more round than square) where the Palio is run every year. In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful piazzas we have seen in our travels. It's punctuated by Palazzo Pubblico (the picture of the tower on the first page of this web site is part of Palazzo Pubblico). It was too late to go in, but not too late to admire it.
We continued walking, and, as neither of us were particularly hungry, we stopped at a snack bar to get some panini to take away. We of course also stopped for gelato, because we hadn't yet had our daily dose.
As it was starting to get dark, we walked back to our hotel, and called it a night.