April 17, 2009

Last weekend, April 11-13, we had a long weekend because of Easter (Pasqua). Easter Monday (Pasquetta) is a national holiday, so there were no classes and we got an extra day to travel! On the 11th we went to Florence for the day. Since both Sara and I had been there before, we avoided going to the most touristy places (the Uffizi, etc) and instead took time to walk around and see some of the less-crowded places.

Left: Duomo; Right: dome of the duomo, as seen from the campanile

But of course we couldn’t resist doing one “touristy” thing, which was to climb to the top of the campanile (bell tower) of the cathedral and look down at the dome. The view from the top was really nice, and we were glad we went as soon as we got there, because there was no line to go up when we arrived and the line went all the way down the square when we came down!

Left: Famous bronze panels on the doors of the baptistery; Right: Ponte Vecchio

We wandered through the city to the Piazza della Signorina, where all the big museums are, to see the crowds of people waiting to go in; crossed the Ponte Vecchio, and ended up at the Palazzo Pitti.

Left: replica of the David by Michelangelo in the Piazza della Signorina; Right: chapel in Santissima Annunciata church

We decided to in the Palazzo Pitti’s gardens, the Boboli Gardens, and had a great time watching the families with kids and eating lunch. Spring has finally come to Italy, and the weather was great! The view down on the city from the gardens is beautiful. Our ticket to the gardens also included the Costume Museum, Treasury Museum (gold, silver, and other works in precious materials) and Ceramics Collections. It was nice to see something different than paintings and sculpture for a change!

Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens

Left: view from the Boboli Gardens; right: view from the Bardini Gardens, another palace down the road from the Pitti Palace (our ticket got us in there, too! What a deal!)

Before we left Florence we decided to go find the synagogue, just to see what it looks like; it looks a lot like Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine church - Byzantine architecture seems to be a pretty common choice for synagogues, who want to differentiate themselves from Christian churches, understandably. The green dome is visible throughout the city.

In Florence we resisted the urge to buy all the expensive leather goods, writing supplies, art supplies, and jewelry we saw, but we did get some delicious pastry and got gelato - twice!