After a week in Rome, we were ready for something a little smaller and easier to navigate. Florence was smaller but Google Maps seemed more cranky there. But we made it work: We FSO!
OH! That church!
Okay, so we’ve seen a LOT of churches. A lot. But this one literally took my breath away when we walked up to it. We arrived in Florence relatively late in the day (outlet malls right off the highway beckon distract us), but around 9:30 p.m. we walked towards the middle of town because we knew there was a big church there in the Piazza del Duomo. When you turn the corner and see it… just WOW. It looks like a movie set. You’re thinking “Is that a painting, because that’s just amazing.” I think the thing that stood out the most was the colors, then the size. It’s made with white, green and pink marble. It’s such a lovely contrast and very unlike most churches we’ve seen that are just one color. The colors are only evident up close. When you’re away from it a bit, it appears to be just white with black outlines, like the rough draft of a drawing. It’s really remarkable.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Of course, we went to see the Leaning Tower. It’s only about an hour outside of Florence. Dan and I saw it in 2000 but we knew it would be great fun for the girls. It did not disappoint. I had more fun watching all the people doing the crazy poses and watching Dan, then Haley, direct Zoe for her poses. We climbed up the inside of the tower which was very interesting. As you go around the stairs you notice one side is harder to climb than the other, and the indentations in the stairs from all the stepping move from one side of the stairs to another.
Leonardo and His Buddy Mike
We went to check the the Uffizi Gallery because we I booked the wrong ticket to see Michelangelo’s famous statue of David. Whoops. My bad. This is what happens when Dan and I switch roles. He’s usually the researcher, checking into all options thoroughly before clicking the “add to cart” button. But I’m the scheduler and I started noticing that getting tickets to see the statue of David were limited and we needed to book ahead. Yikes! We are only in Florence for 3 days! So I scanned the internet, found some tickets, click click and we are good to go! Then I started to notice that the statue of David is not at that museum. Uh Oh. But the Uffizi had a some of Leonardo da Vinci’s work, a bit from Michelangelo and a lot of art from the Renaissance period, so it was worth doing. Art is not our favorite homeschool topic but with the help of Rick Steves, we went through it and saw some interesting things.
Galileo’s Middle Finger
We stumbled across (we do that a lot, it’s not a literal stumble but more like an internet rabbit hole) Museo Galileo, which is a museum about the history of science. Now THAT sounds interesting. Even more interesting was that it has Galileo’s middle and index fingers AND his tooth on display! Where else are we going to see Galileo’s middle finger? So after a gelato break between museums (we have the fruit flavored ones before dinner and the chocolate ones after dinner… we’re civilized like that), we checked out the history of science.
I righted my wrong and we finally did get into the museum where the large (and I mean LARGE) statue of David is housed. Dan and I came to Florence in 2000 with some friends and we all saw what we thought was the David. We remember walking around aimlessly, finally coming across a nondescript plaza in the middle of some neighborhood and seeing an unimpressive statue of David. (This was before anyone used phones to find stuff while traveling.) So we THOUGHT we had checked the box and got ‘er done. Well, turns out we never really saw the statue because the real David has been inside this museum for over 100 years. So now it’s finally our time to see him.
Haley, who likes to make small sculptures out of polymer clay, was especially impressed with his knees. I noticed his hand right away, which seemed out of proportion. Turns out it was. Why? Because in the Middle Ages, David was commonly said to be of “manu fortis” – strong of hand. Haley (aka Trivia Queen) also tells us that all the tourists coming to see David are creating mini earthquakes, which is wearing him down. He has to be restored every year due to all the movement.
Overall, Google found Florence to be more confusing than Rome but we found it more manageable. Part of Google’s problem is due to some construction going on. I think they are putting in some light rail options, which is probably a good idea. The center of the city is blocked off to traffic, which means they have these lovely walking-only streets where you can just wander at will and not worry about being run over by a crazy driver being misled by Google Maps. We definitely don’t remember this from the last time we were here. Overall I found Florence to be a lovely town, very proud of their famous residents and their place in art history, as well as a nice walking-sized piece of Italy.