Friday, January 27, 2017


I am really trying to write up about our Italian trip before it's a distant memory (even though it's already 6 months late)

I would have to say that out of our entire Italian trip Florence was probably my favorite city.  I loved the rhythm of the city, the size of it, the overall feel…

Our hotel was in the center of the city so driving to it was an interesting experience because the streets were extremely narrow and at times it was debatable whether we can make certain turns.  The room we reserved in the hotel was in the style of a loft apartment with 2 beds in the loft and a fold out couch on the bottom.  Interestingly, the room had a kitchen but in order to use anything but the fridge we had to pay 25 euros.  We opted not to; hotel came with breakfast included and we wanted to enjoy the Italian cuisine. Immediately after we arrived and checked in, we decided to go grab dinner and went to Central Market.  The place is so busy and has so many different options.  We went with a safe and at the beginning of our route seemingly delicious way - pizza, pasta and salad. Central Market is extremely touristy and has everything that can possibly be made out of leather , all kinds of t-shirts, and so many types of mozzarella that I couldn't even keep track.
Pulling into our hotel, a bit narrow :)
I pre-reserved the tickets to most places we went which included Uffizi Gallerie and Duomo.  However, I couldn’t pre-reserve tickets to see the real statue of David in Accademia Galleria.  The times offered on the website were super late and we decided to just get in line and hope for the best.  The line moved along kind of decently and within about an hour we were in.  What was a bit surprising was how small the museum actually was and the main attraction is David while the rest of the museum has mostly paintings of Jesus dating back 15th and 16the century.
Rather crowded
Duomo was absolutely amazing, and I read enough to know that we wanted to go there first thing in the morning to avoid long lines.  It is incredibly massive and a bit overwhelming in its size.  When I was getting the tickets I had a choice to make – do we climb Duomo or Baptistery of St. John?  After significant amount of research, we choose to go with the Baptistery of St. John because you can actually see the famous Duomo roof better when you standing right across from it.  The structure of the dome was based on the Greek Pantheon, but the technology (and I use that word loosely) was very different.  Fillippo Brunellischi was the final architect and the person responsible for the Dome and he used intuition as much (or more) than he used mathematical calculations to build it. The fact that the Dome has no central support is both amazing and incredible.  The Cathedral itself took from 1296 to 1469 to complete.  Thanks for advanced reservation and early timing, we went right through and saw amazing views.

We also saw the “fake” bronze doors before we went inside the museum and saw the real ones.  The museum at Duomo is rather large with some massive and impressive items.  Again, I pre-reserved the tickets and we walked right in.

There are so many beautiful Piazzas all over the city to enjoy.  Of course, Ponte Vecchio was something we wanted to see.  It was different from what I expected to see on the bridge (I actually don’t know what I expected but not what I saw :)) Bridge that has buildings right on it that look incredibly old but are probably somewhat modernized to withstand the weather and the time.  It was also so incredibly crowded!

The bridge is behind the boys

One of our walks took us all the way to Santa Croce Church.  It’s a smallish church, however, famous Italians like Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli were buried there.  We talked to the boys about Michelangelo and Galileo and seemingly they were impressed.  There were no organized guided tours inside; however, it seemed like many Russian speaking tours were on premises so we (Ilya and I) listened to them a bit.
In front of Galileo's grave
Uffizi Galleria was amazing.  It’s considered to be one of the best Italian museums in the world and holds works of painters such as Botticelli, Di Vinci, Titian, Raphael and even several paintings by Michelangelo amongst so many others.   The biggest problem we had with Galleria that even though our tickets were pre-purchased and timed, we weren’t admitted to the museum until nearly an hour after “our” time. The crowds are absolutely insane.  Because of that, the boys were really tired once we got in and the museum is by no means small so at one point we made a choice to see the highlights of the museum and kind of do a fast walk through the rest of it.  However, it is definitely one of the museums that I would want to visit again but next time I’d go first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds as much as possible.  

We walked a lot in Florence! 

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