Tuscany - Day 3 - Florence and San Gimignano
Jul 9, 2009
|Today was our day in Florence. We started with the Uffizi. While waiting for our tickets, we saw the Ponte Vecchio, and some street performers taking a break.
The Uffizi has some great art and is itself very beautiful. But its administration is terrible. First, you have to make a reservation to see it and pay 14 euros ($20) per ticket. Then you have to wait in line for half an hour anyway. The place has one tiny bathroom with three stalls and a half hour wait. All of the galleries are poorly lit. Many rooms are closed. You can't take pictures, even without flash. Most of the paintings are behind glass and reflect light from some window or other. Worst of all, the Birth of Venus, one of the most famous paintings of all time, cannot be viewed at all without seeing the reflection of a row of blue horizontal window panes from the opposite wall. You have to move around to see the painting in its entirety. The management should be ashamed of giving guests this terrible experience and of ruining the viewing of timeless masterpieces.
We were allowed to take a few pictures, like these kissing angels.
After the Uffizi, we bought leather gloves that were soft as silk. We then had lunch at I Fratellini, which has been making sandwiches since 1875. You get sandwiches and wine and enjoy your lunch on the sidewalk. For wine, we had a Brunello di Montalcino. If you've never had Brunello, you need to try it. Even the cheap stuff is *amazing*.
Next door, an artisan was painting porcelain dishes. We bought a spoonrest from him.
We then took a carriage ride (thanks Anne!) across Florence. We kissed and saw the Duomo and many medieval churches.
We then went to the leather school, where we had two very fine wallets imprinted with initials. We also saw a bookbinder binding a book together.
We unfortunately couldn't get a reservation at Villa San Michele, supposedly the most romantic restaurant possible, but we had a pretty nice substitute: Al Vecchie Mure, a restaurant on top of the walls of San Gimignano with an amazing view of the valley.
San Gimignano is a tiny medieval town with 14 very high medieval towers (used to be 72! it's called "medieval Manhattan") and lots of steep hills. It's very charming. And since we went near sunset, all the tourists had cleared out, leaving us with just the quiet and its beautiful streets.
It turns out the award for best gelato in the world goes to a gelateria in San Gimignano. David had zabaione al vinsanto di chianti and fior di nutella. Sorry Maman, they wouldn't ship to Los Angeles. Something about melting.
We then had a lovely sunset before driving home.