Posts

Showing posts from June, 2013

uffizi gallery

Image
last but not least!

on our last day in florence (and the worst weather day of the trip), we made our way to the uffizi, the mecca for art in italy.  2.6% of my"1001 paintings to see before you die"are in that museum!  i booked tickets about two months earlier giving us a 10 AM admission.  like the academy  it was worth the extra 4 EUR per person to have this reservation.  also, please remember your reservation number; that turns out to be the only way that they can look up your reservation!  the reservation allows you to go into a special line.  they admit that line prior to anyone in the other line.

the tour groups within the uffizi were out of control.  i (and jason, in particular) wish they had some limits on size since some of them were over forty people huddled around a tiny painting!

the museum is pretty easily laid out and it sure is easy to just follow the crowd.  we did laugh that the museum was on the first floor, but it was a solid four flights of stairs up to get to…

florence's duomo

Image
we spent a lot of time over our few days in florence around and in the duomo. it has a number of buildings that are also considered part of the complex like the bapistry, the bell tower, and a museum!

it is hard to miss the duomo in florence.  it seemed as though it is exactly in the middle of the city.  we passed it to go everywhere!




to start with, we bought some sort of combo ticket that included entrance to everything except the dome.  the line to the dome seemed rather long (i.e. make a reservation if you decide to go).  the dome is pretty interesting since you get to walk around the inside of it and really study the ceiling murals.  instead of the dome, we opted to climb up the bell tower, which did not have a line.

the bell tower's formal name is giotto's campanile.  the climb to the the top of the bell tower was a relatively standard "climb the tower."  it did have  nice breaks throughout the climb to view the complex.  it gives a magnificent view of the dome and…

florence's duomo

Image
we spent a lot of time over our few days in florence around and in the duomo. it has a number of buildings that are also considered part of the complex like the bapistry, the bell tower, and a museum!

it is hard to miss the duomo in florence.  it seemed as though it is exactly in the middle of the city.  we passed it to go everywhere!




to start with, we bought some sort of combo ticket that included entrance to everything except the dome.  the line to the dome seemed rather long (i.e. make a reservation if you decide to go).  the dome is pretty interesting since you get to walk around the inside of it and really study the ceiling murals.  instead of the dome, we opted to climb up the bell tower, which did not have a line.

the bell tower's formal name is giotto's campanile.  the climb to the the top of the bell tower was a relatively standard "climb the tower."  it did have  nice breaks throughout the climb to view the complex.  it gives a magnificent view of the dome and…

pitti palace

Image
the first time i was in florence, i did not visit the pitti palace.  i really had no idea it exists in a way!  we decided we definitely needed to visit it on this trip.  

it is quite impressive to see as you walk up to it.  after the tiny narrow streets of florence, this palace takes up a few city blocks with a large stone "lawn" in front of it.




the museum was two tickets for entry to various exhibits.  each ticket allows entrance to various museums and gardens in the palace.  of course, the two top areas, the palatine galleries and the boboli gardens are on separate entry tickets.  i wish they had charged a higher rate and put them all on one ticket. we went to one gallery thinking it was on our ticket and of course, it was not.

we went straight to the palatine gallery and was lucky enough to reach it before the tourist groups did!  it had some beautiful renaissance art.  it is definitely a quantity museum with rooms filled to the brim of paintings.  unfortunately, three of th…

pitti palace

Image
the first time i was in florence, i did not visit the pitti palace.  i really had no idea it exists in a way!  we decided we definitely needed to visit it on this trip.  

it is quite impressive to see as you walk up to it.  after the tiny narrow streets of florence, this palace takes up a few city blocks with a large stone "lawn" in front of it.




the museum was two tickets for entry to various exhibits.  each ticket allows entrance to various museums and gardens in the palace.  of course, the two top areas, the palatine galleries and the boboli gardens are on separate entry tickets.  i wish they had charged a higher rate and put them all on one ticket. we went to one gallery thinking it was on our ticket and of course, it was not.

we went straight to the palatine gallery and was lucky enough to reach it before the tourist groups did!  it had some beautiful renaissance art.  it is definitely a quantity museum with rooms filled to the brim of paintings.  unfortunately, three of th…

galleria dell'academia

Image
our first main tourist stop in florence was the galleria dell'academia.  i made a reservation for entrance at 2:00 on a tuesday.  

jason laughed at me for making reservations here and at the uffizi.  soon, he understood why.  we walked passed the museum earlier in the day to pick up our tickets and the lines wrapped around the block.  It costs an extra 4 EUR to reserve a time slot.  I would highly recommend it for the academy and the uffizi.  it saved us quite a bit of time and anxiety of staring a long line in the face!

this museum gets right down to business.  in the second room, michaelangelo'sslaves greet you.  the four unfinished statues lead you to the main exhibit, david.  this is the original sculpture, which the bronze sculpture in the piazzale michaelangelo and the replica in the palazzo vecchio outside of the uffizi.





















jason and i also headed up stairs to check out the artifacts that were there.  they had a number of beautiful medieval art.  they had a number of gilded, …

santa croce

Image
one of our last tourist stops in florence was the basilica of santa croce.  

the church is quite gorgeous.  the frescos are beautiful and of course, the funeral monuments!  santa croce is the italian version of the british westminster.  it has all of the famous italian celebrities.  and by celebrity, we are talking about leonardo da vinci, michelangelo, galileo, dante, ferme and more.  any names that you recognize?


the church also has a leather school attached.  it was developed after world war II as a way to train orphans on a skill.  it is hand-crafted custom leather.  it is a stop for many of the rich and famous.  the leather was like butter, very expensive butter like $1000 coat of butter.

the museum associated with the museum was pretty interesting as well.  it contained many of the damaged items from the flood and showed the restoration process.  

time in church: 45 minutes
times visited: 1
overall: A-

santa croce

Image
one of our last tourist stops in florence was the basilica of santa croce.  

the church is quite gorgeous.  the frescos are beautiful and of course, the funeral monuments!  santa croce is the italian version of the british westminster.  it has all of the famous italian celebrities.  and by celebrity, we are talking about leonardo da vinci, michelangelo, galileo, dante, ferme and more.  any names that you recognize?


the church also has a leather school attached.  it was developed after world war II as a way to train orphans on a skill.  it is hand-crafted custom leather.  it is a stop for many of the rich and famous.  the leather was like butter, very expensive butter like $1000 coat of butter.

the museum associated with the museum was pretty interesting as well.  it contained many of the damaged items from the flood and showed the restoration process.  

time in church: 45 minutes
times visited: 1
overall: A-

museo della tortura

to fill some time in our day in san gimignano, jason and i decided to check out the museum of torture.  i think this is probably the weirdest museum i have ever been to, even more than the museum of sex in new york city.  
the museum layout is fairly straightforward and can be viewed in almost any order.  it is primarily laid out with a description and the torture device in question.  they are somewhat clustered according to when they were used (i.e. the electric chair is near the gas chamber).  
the museum was fairly informative, but just not very creative.  i did learn about some new methods of torture (iron maiden anyone?), but some of the information was fairly common place.
after about 30 minutes, i did finally have to leave.  it was giving me a bit of the creeps and i needed to get into the sunlight.  jason did go to the second museum, which is included in the ticket.  he spent about 45 minutes in that museum as well.  he really enjoyed it although he was quite worried that i would…

museo del vino

we stopped at the museum of wine in san gimignano.  it was about three rooms and a tasting room.  one of the rooms was very helpful.  it had a video regarding the wine making process and the history of the region.  

we also really enjoyed the wine tasting room.  we tasted four different wines for 6 EUR.  two reds and two whites.  we really enjoyed tasting the two white wines from san gimignano.  they were like a crisp pinot grigio.  we brought three bottles of it back to detroit.  it was something different from what we have seen here in the US.  we had thought we were getting it for free since we offered to pay for it at the beginning.  well, it turns out we were paying for it when we were done?  oh well.  it was the most generous pours we had anywhere for a tasting.  the sommelier was very helpful in offering recommendations on where to go purchase the wine and knowledgeable about the different local wines we drank.

we could have skipped the museum, but the tasting was very helpful fo…

siena's duomo

Image
on our last afternoon in sienna, we finally visited sienna's duomo.  we reserved entrance tickets a few days earlier to confirm our entrance time.  it was an extra euro to reserve.  i highly recommend the reservation!

the duomo is pretty spectacular.  the exterior of the building is fantastic.  it is in the very traditional italian renaissance style.  we could spend hours just looking at the outside of the building.  it was overly ornate.  i loved the vibrant stripes and the decorative statues.  i cannot think of a single building built today that is this ornate and detailed (then again, labor is a smidge more expensive than back then)!





the ceiling was spectacular.  we both loved all the popes lining the ceiling.  supposedly, they add a new one every time a new pope is elected continuing the tradition.
the cathedral also had beautiful statues and floors.  one of the coolest "pieces" was the carved lectern where the priest or readers would present the gospel and readings to …

museo civico and torre del mangia

Image
one of our first true touristy stops in siena was at the torre del mangia, the tall tower in their main plaza, palazzo publico.  the next day, we went to the museo civico, which is also housed in the city hall off the plaza.  

the view from the top of the torre del mangia is pretty fantastic.  it has a great vantage point on the top of siena's duomo as well as the surrounding countryside.  their system for climbing the tire could be expedited a bit, but it does prevent the horrible problem of tourist crossing in very narrow stairwells.  this stairwell was pretty typical for stairwells built in the medieval ages/early renaissance.  


the museum is in the right side of the building below.  torre del mangia is at the top of the tower (obviously)!  the square is pretty spectacular.



the museum consists of a number of frescos and is within the old civil building on the square.  some of the art was quite spectacular.  they have a number of massive frescos in fairly good shape.  they also hav…

Castello di Brolio

Image
on our second day of biking, our main destination was the castello di brolio.  we biked out to the vineyard and castle and then back.  the wine tasting room is the bottom of the hill with the castle at the very top.
since everything in tuscany that is older than about 100 years old seems to sit at the top of a hill, we had a decent hike up to the castle.  we ended up only touring the outside of the castle as the inside was closing for a "lunch" break. the views were pretty spectacular.  
this castle was considered the southern border of florence and transferred hands a number of times, but finally rested in the hands of florence.  "when brolio growls, all siena trembles" was a very common saying. 
the restaurant at the castle was delicious as well.  our pasta dishes were delicious.  if you go to the castle and pay admission, you get a free tasting in the wine room as well.  





definitely a gorgeous stop in the country side with delicious food and wine to go with it!
time …