The artless tour of Florence

Trip Start Apr 01, 2008
Trip End Jun 30, 2008

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Wednesday, June 4, 2008

He says:

Overall I enjoyed Florence and my time in Tuscany but we found Florence a bit grotty and had shit public transport (first for Europe). It would probably be a bit more exciting for more arty folk I guess... Now I might as well get this out of the way straight away... We did not go to any art galleries or museums while we were in Florence, so anyone in my family who were hoping that the home of the Renaissance would spark some sort of hibernating Marshall gene for art will be disappointed... We briefly thought about going to the Uffizi, but the crowds and lines turned us right off and we thought about going to see David, but, besides the aformentioned crowds, there were numerous, perfectly fne, reproductions scattered throughout the city. Having said that, it is pretty difficult to ignore the miriad of sculptures, frescoes and paintings surrounding you at every turn so I feel like we got our dose of Florentine art. We also marvelled and were pretty impressed with what we saw, so maybe there is hope for me yet...

We stayed out of town a little bit, in a village called Girone, in an old converted water mill on the river. The B&B was a touch of luxury, especially after our hostels in Munich and Venice, and was really beautiful but best of all came with 2 dogs for Gaynor to play with (I think they'll be missing her). The local village was holding a Sagra del Fritto while we were there and we managed to catch it one night, which was my highlight for our time in Tuscany. Gaynor was dubious, to say the least, at the prospect of crashing the villages food festival but we went anyway and it was brilliant! We ate so much food, Spagetti al Scoglio, Penne Ragu, Fritto Misto, Funghi Fritto, Seafood Misto, salad and litre of wine each and it all came to less then we have paid for any dinner since we have arrived in Italy... And it was all really good! Ordering and communicating were an amusing challenge, but we managed and noone seemed to mind that we were crashing the party. We eventually sparked up a stilted conversation with a neighbour who, after being assured that we weren't American's, shared some of his food with us. A great night was had and afterwards we stumbled home a little tipsy and feeling like we had had a true Tuscan experience...

In Florence we did numerous churches, Basilicas, markets, Piazzas, the Pitti Palace and gardens, ate, apparently, the best gellati in the world, walked over bridges, looked at bridges, viewed incredible views... It was all really old, interesting and beautiful, but to tell you the truth, it all just blurred into one long string of archetecture, sculptures and paintings... I felt like it was missing the spark needed for a truly great city (a bit like how I felt about Vienna), but, as I have said, maybe if I was into art...

The two highlights for me were Fiesole and Siena. Fiesole is a small village located on a hill overlooking Florence, which, apart from providing you with unreal views of the Tuscan country side and Florence itself, contained one of the best preserved Roman ampitheatres in existence (they still hold performances there) and a bath and Temple complex. It would be a magical place to see some theatre as the backdrop is Tuscan hillsides and villages...

We went to Siena yesterday on a whim... I was kinda over Florence and as mum can attest, I had a fascination with the Palio as a kid and, although we missed the actual event by exactly a month, visiting the town square where it is held was really cool. We also found the town itself far more beautiful then Florence... The Duomo was prettier, the town was better preserved and the views over the surrounding countryside were far more spectacular. However, I think the highlight for Gaynor was the bus ride back (we caught the train there and the bus back) when we sat at the top front of a double decker bus. This gave her a close up birds eye view of the crazy italian driving... With Gaynor's love of unsafe driving this was better then any theme park ride, even if she needed a clean pair of underwear when we got back...

Today we are heading for Rome, which, as someone who has always been fascinated by the Roman Empire, is a thrill. After Florence I think I am prepared for the crowds, gypsies and hawkers, but only time will tell...

Till next time...
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angelasusan on

Some philistine...
And apart from all that Florence is the city of dogs - and Rome is the city of cats.

angelasusan on

re Venice
maybe if the galleries sold beer it would all look different,Pete

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