While day one in Florence had been all about art and architecture, day two was mostly about museums, both indoors and outdoors. Here are more of our highlights while exploring this fantastic Italian city.
The Ponte Vecchio, or Old Bridge, is one of Florence’s iconic sights. The bridge spans the river Arno and is famous for still having all the little medieval shops hanging precariously from its sides. These shops used to be home to butcheries at first, but my mother remembers it fondly as a leather shopper’s dream. When we were there, it was mostly filled with jewellers and goldsmith’s shops. I tried really hard to find something to take home with me, but it was just way too expensive. Instead, we appreciated all the beautiful trinkets from outside the crowded little shops.
Next up on our itinerary was the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, once residence to the influential De Medici family and later Napoleon. It became a museum in 1919 and now houses the Palatine Gallery, the Royal Apartments, the Gallery of Modern Art, the Silver Museum, the Porcelain Museum, the Costume Gallery and the Carriages Museum. We specifically wanted to visit the Boboli Gardens, but our ticket also included access to the Silver and Porcelain museums and the Costume Gallery.
The Silver Museum contains an incredible display of, you guessed it, silverware. Mostly religious items are on show, such as crosses, chalices and urns containing the grisly remains of various minor saints, but there are also jewellery on display that would make the shop owners on the Ponte Vecchio green with jealousy, and one particularly pretty snail that I wished I could liberate from its glassy confinement. With all that glitters at eye level, it was still the beautiful ceiling frescoes that constantly drew my gaze upwards.
We found the Porcelain Museum a little boring and didn’t even take any pictures. Let’s face it, you need to be a special kind of person to be interested in old, chipped plates. But the Costume Gallery had some interesting period dresses that we rather liked.
Feet aching and eyes unaccustomed to the sunshine outside, we made our way up to the top of the Boboli Gardens where we found a shady spot to have a picnic. There is a lovely view of the city and the Duomo, but it seems like locals and tourists alike come here to escape from the bustle of city for a few hours. We loved the hedgerows, the tall trees, the sculptures and the peaceful atmosphere.
Finally it was time to move on again, and our next port of call was the Galileo Museum. If you’re at all interested in the science of the Renaissance, then this museum comes highly recommended. However, should you not be fascinated by mathematical instruments, telescopes, celestial globes, chemistry equipment or the index finger of Galileo himself, then you’d better skip it. We found it informative at first, but as our feet started protesting again, we soon became bored and spent more time searching for benches than studying the displays.
This was our final day in Florence. Although we had seen most of the major sights, I think we barely scratched the surface of everything the city has to offer.
What sights would you recommend to visitors to the Renaissance city?
For more posts in the Ciao Italy 2014 series, click here.