We had planned to take the bus to Florence as the bus stop was right at our front door of Il Paggino in Radda. I bought our tickets in Radda at the tobacco shop the day before (located just inside the main gate of Radda on the right side). They weren’t very much and I unloaded my pocketful of coins to lighten my load.
We had good intentions, but we woke up late and just couldn’t get it all together in time to want to get on the public bus for an hour journey that had an unknown amount of stops along the way. Also, it was unknown whether there is a bathroom on the public bus??? (this might be good knowledge for other travelers in the future for early morning bus travels after coffee intake).
Soooo, after consulting the map and plotting a course on Google maps with our wi-fi, it looked pretty easy. (ha!) So we decided to drive ourselves to Florence. Our European neighbors next door wished us luck as they headed out for another day of biking through Chianti.
We left Radda and drove north through Panzano and Greve, which we had already done and was familiar territory. We continued north and at some point I missed our turn in my navigation, and we got a bit off course – but Wally did get to see the Ugolino Golf Course. As with most navigation in Italy, if you miss one turn, there is usually another sign somewhere ahead that will get you to where you are going. You get to see a few more sights, but that’s okay, that’s why we’re traveling.
My Google maps route had us coming up from the south side of Florence and looked easy and straightforward ~ until we drove up through a governmental-looking estate and the road turned into a one-road lane that was unmarked… but still heading in the right direction… Hmmm.
We saw a main road ahead and a parking space, so stopped to try and figure out where we were. Well, we were still on the south side of Florence but not sure where. So drove a bit more, saw a bunch of cars and historic area and started down a wrong way but quickly corrected ourselves. After a few more times around a round-about, we decided to pull in where we saw a public parking area and walk. We had stumbled upon a good parking spot next to an ancient fortress and took pictures to remember where we were.
We are starved and going to be late for our date at the Uffizi, so I decided it isn’t worth it to rush through lunch to fight a crowd to go to the Uffizi. I remembered that there was also a fabulous gallery at the Pitti Palace, and decided that would be our fall-back plan.
It was much nicer to sit on the Piazza della Signoria and watch all the tourists while we ate another delicious pizza washed down with local wine at Ristorante Pizzeria Orcagna. http://www.ristoranteorcagna.com/en/
This view from our table shows the famous Loggia dei Lanzi and statue, Rape of the Sabines by Giambologna. I didn’t even realize that was what the statue was until doing this blog, as there were so many people milling around it I didn’t get close.
The Duomo di Firenze, the cathedral of Florence, was built between 1296 and 1436 and is one of the largest in the world. It really is a “WOW” when you get close and see the size of the Duomo. It was a seething mass of tourists milling about it in every direction so we opted not to go through the interior. The entirety of it all is so large that you can’t fit it all in one camera shot, so here it is in pieces…
This is home to the famous Il Porcellino, the bronze “piglet” fountain – visitors put a coin in his mouth, wait for it to fall into the grate below for good luck, then rub his nose as a wish to return to Florence.
On the other side… We’ve arrived at our destination – the Pitti Palace or Palazzo Pitti for our afternoon of art appreciation. You purchase your tickets off to the side of the palace entrance and can pick which things you would like to tour, such as The Palatine Gallery, various museums, collections and the gardens.
We chose just to do the Palatine Gallery tour. This is home to the Medici family’s collection of art and you shouldn’t leave Florence without visiting it! Raphael, Titian, Correggio, Rubens, Pietro da Cortona and other Italian and European masters of the Renaissance and Baroque periods are displayed in a haphazard fashion.
And the art begins… the Medicis were famous for their patronage of the arts and it really is absolutely amazing how many of the masters are in room after room after room after room! And there were very few people there at all! We were sometimes standing in the room alone with all of this beauty. Photography is allowed without a flash, so I was able to share this magnificence with all of you, and able to look back and savor it again.
Artist and artisans have their workshops throughout this area, just as they have for centuries. You never know what you might see as you meander through the narrow streets. The door was open to this studio and the sculptor must have stepped away for the moment….