Last week marked the beginning of the nice weather of 2017! It was sunny and warm; the tourists started to come up, which brought the dormant city back to live. Everyday I spent some time outdoor to make sure I was enjoying the most of this golden week, and one of the best time I had was a day of art & culture.
After living in Florence for almost 2 years, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been to the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David! This needed to be changed, and last week was the perfect time to do that!
With a reservation confirmed online, I found myself in front of the Accademia Gallery at 11o’clock waiting to get in. Thanks to the most famous marble sculpture David by Michelangelo, Accademia never needs to worry about visitors. Every year 1.500 million people come from all over the world to Accademia to see David. It is consider the most popular museum in the world, considering its size and the number of visitors. And you can easily agree to this fact by looking at the long queues outside the ticketing office, as well as the line at the gate ready to dive in. Due to this, reserving your time slot is highly preferred. I booked mine on Tickets Florence, which allowed me to save much time, skip the queue, and enjoy the service of a tour guide in the museum.
The sculpture of David was moved inside the Accademia in 1872. Ever since, the Accademia Gallery has been one conceived for David. Entering into the gallery, we first arrived in a room displaying Renaissance paintings. Those 15th century paintings were the ones, which Michelangelo was surrounded and seeing when he was a young boy.
One of the typical and famous one was the Santo Stefano tra i Santi Jacopo e Pietro by Domenico Ghirlandaio, the one and only artist master, under whom Michelangelo ever practiced as apprentice. At that time to become an artist, it took 6-7 years of apprenticeship for a young kid starting at the age of 10. However when Michelangelo got accepted by Ghirlandaio, he was already 13, which made him the oldest junior student in Ghirlandaio’s studio! However Michelangelo only practiced for 1 year before quitting the apprenticeship. The reason is unclear. But according to the book The Agony and the Ecstasy that I am reading, Michelangelo knew since the beginning that he belonged to sculpture rather than painting. So when Lorenzo de’Medici opened a sculpture studio, he dove in.
David, standing at the vanishing point of the gallery. Different from some other sculptures, for example The Rape of Sabine Woman by Giambologna (displaying in the Piazza della Signoria), which has no specific preferred viewing aspect, Michelangelo has one for David: the front.
Checking the sculpture from different points of view unlocks more of its characters. Some people pointed, and I did agree, that David looked younger from the side than front; his hands seemed exaggeratedly huge while looking closely than from far, etc.
Exit from the Accademia, it was 12:30pm. With 1 hour break, I thought the best would be taking a light lunch in the city center before the city walk started.
At 1:30pm, we started the guided CityWalk from Piazza della Repubblica, the most modern square in downtown Florence. Florence was the capital of Italy from 1865 – 1870, and this square was built then as an united project. The architectures around are with neo-classic style, which easily remind us new modern European city, such as Paris. You can also find the pillar in the square that remarks the center point of (the old Roman) Florence, which were left by the Romans when they firstly built the city.
Walking along via Roma, we arrived the Piazza del Duomo, where the famous Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore stands. It is a neo-gothic style architecture mainly constructed of three color marble: white, green and red. Marble is considered one of the greatest fruits from the Tuscan earth, and the different colored marbles are from different places in Tuscany. White marble is from Carrara; green from Prato; while red from other Tuscan towns. The three colors perfectly represents three motto: faith (white), hope (green), and charity (red).
After worshiping the cathedral, we turned into Via dello Studio, where I found my favorite toy store Citta del Sole. It is a chain specializing in kids’ toy. From newborn to teen, you surely find something interesting for the kid there. My son has harvested some of his car collections from this shop, and one of his favorite books Il grande libro delle FIGURE e delle PAROLE, which was a great material to teach the babies to recognize objects in our daily life, as well an interesting vocabulary booklet for me to learn some Italian words.
And to find more unique shops for baby in Florence, see my earlier post: 4 Unique Baby Shops in Florence.
Walking on Florentine streets, you may as well have noticed that there are two different colored door plates: red and blue. This is something pure Florentine. The blue door plates are for residence, while the red ones are for shops and commercial places. Just a kind reminder, which I learned during living in Florence, the Google Map recognizes by default the RED street number, however people in Florence by default refer to the BLUE one. When you try to locate a place in a street of Florence, where both red & blue numbers happen to exist, the Google Map might bring you to the red/ wrong one.
See?! Even Google is lost in Florence!
The last stop of our citywalk was Piazza della Signoria, where we met the “David” again but this time the copy! Besides hosting the Palazzo Vecchio, the Old Palace once used by the Medici as residence, which right now is the city hall, this piazza is as well an open-air museum! Except for the David, all rest of the sculptures are original.
In the Loggia dei Lanzi, the original sculpture Rape of Sabine Woman (mentioned above) is placed on the right corner. On the left side, the bronze statue Perseus with the Head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini is placed. This statue, commissioned by the 2nd Duke of Florence Cosimo I de’ Medici, represents the story of Perseus killing and beheading the Gorgon Medusa. Placing it in the Piazza della Signoria is a way of the Duke sending out his political message to people: oppose me and perish.
Loggia dei Lanzi, aka Loggia della Signoria, a gallery few steps higher above the ground was used to be a place, where politicians gave their public speeches to audience.
- Ticketing to the Accademia: It is highly recommended to reserve the entrance to the Accademia Gallery by booking the ticket online in advance. My ticket was offered by Tickets Florence. It allowed me to skip the long queue at the ticketing office, which saved huge amount time and energy. And the best part was it came with a guide service, which helped me understand much better and more comprehensively about the art pieces inside the museum.
- Lunch between two appointments: As we will spend the whole day walking, recharging ourselves seems even more important. A quick and pleasant lunch in Piazza della Repubblica is a good choice. I went to the bookstore La Feltrinelli, as it was close to the gathering point of the CityWalk, and meanwhile it offered quiet and enjoyable environment. Their menu was simple, and the food was served quickly. And after the meal, visit the books is a good way to kill some time.Another great place for lunch in Piazza della Reppublica is Irene at Hotel Savoy. It offers outdoor tables, overlooking at the piazza. It serves innovative Tuscan cuisine, which could even make your day!