Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Florentine Style

We woke up in Florence on Sunday with 10:00 am reservations for the Uffizi Gallery. You would think that going to bed early and having the gallery within walking distance would make that an easy appointment to keep. Not so.
Apparently we were too enamored with the beamed ceilings, blessed air-conditioning and soft mattresses of our apartment.
We declined to eat the "always fresh" plastic-wrapped vending machine croissants provided by our B&B. After daily hot croissants for breakfast in Venice this seemed like a culinary travesty. We raced out the door to the gallery, grabbed some delicious (and surprisingly inexpensive) pastries at Cafe Rivoire en route to the gallery, and snarfed them down as we picked up our tickets. We were prepared to be enlightened by the greatest collection of Italian paintings anywhere.
We even found time to snap a picture of the Palazzo Vecchio on the way.  
I really liked how the Uffizi was arranged in chronological order. It was interesting to see the progression from the ubiquitous golden two-dimensional medieval altarpieces, to the introduction of perspective and then the increasing realism and expressiveness of the paintings. 

Art awakened our hunger-- not for more museums, but food-- so we stopped for lunch and had the best tomato bruschetta of the entire trip. 
On our way out we dropped into the Palazzo Vecchio in the adjoining square
We then strolled across the Ponte Vecchio. Unlike Venice's Rialto Bridge, which is covered with cheap touristy shops, the Ponte Vecchio is covered with gold and jewelry shops (not unlike cruise ports in Alaska). 

We had considered going to the Pitti Palace across the river, but fatigue and burnout again reared their powerful heads so we opted for a quick photo instead. (Good thing we didn't buy that €75 Florence Pass!)
We dawdled for a bit and then caught a cab to go to afternoon church.
There was no building number on the church's address so it took a while to find the building. Meanwhile I got up the guts to use my toddler-level Italian to speak with the cab driver and we actually had a conversation (and I helped communicate where we needed to go). I was able to tell him we liked Florence, were from Oregon, that it was very hot that day and we were having too much gelato. 
We heard a lovely meeting in Italian (translated by a missionary from Idaho)-- some of which I was able to understand on my own! Afterward we were talking to people there and Megan made the connection that one of the members of the bishopric was the dad of one of her friends from BYU. She had actually met this man before, but when she did he was lying out by the Glenwood pool in Provo tanning in a speedo so she didn't recognize him at first in his Sunday attire. (Cue "It's a small world after all....)

We also found that even this Italian church was not missing that most important feature of all LDS churches: a basketball court. 
From church we took a cab to the Piazza Michelangelo to see the sun set while  overlooking drop-dead views of Florence. 

Florence has some amazing views !

We lingered in the Piazza, soaking in the views, then made our way down the hill. We slowly ambled our way across the river, basking in sunset views of the Ponte Vecchio.

One bit of quirky urban art I found made me laugh out loud. I hope if I ever have to walk off a bridge I will look that jaunty. :)
We ended our day with dinner outdoors in a piazza overlooking the church of Santa Croce. 

Prosciutto and melon!
As we made our way back to our hotel, we heard he sounds of an organ coming out of a church.
We stopped to listen before heading back to the air-conditioned cushiness of our beds. 

Window-shopping, Florence style. 

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