I made it home from my weekend trip to Florence and it is the place where dreams come true--art history dreams that is. Forget the magical world of Disney, this place made me so happy in just one day I cannot even explain it. Most of it has to do with good luck and low expectations, but that is perfectly alright with me!
I left at 6;30 (I cannot find the colon on this Italian keyboard, sorry readers!) and arrived three hours later in Florence, just as things were beginning to open. Right away I could tell that it was significantly quieter than Rome, a nice change. I had been g-chatting with my cousin before I left and he said to expect a quieter, slower environment, but I kind of did not believe him too much...he was definitely right! Its also so much smaller so you can walk around the whole city without getting tired. Right away, I went to the Bargello Museum (free admission for me!) where I ran into a friend from my program at UVA! She is in Florence doing research and her husband tagged along for the ride so we made plans for dinner. Next, I headed over to the Monastery of San Marco, which is really cool! You get to look in all of the rooms of the monks where Fra Angelico painted individual scenes for meditation. I had images of the monks playing dice to decide who got which room every year (fighting over the annunciation and the crucifixion scenes). Next, I went and found my hostel, which was adequate but I would definitely not stay there more than one night--I guess you get what you pay for!
After a quick lunch, I headed over to the Accademia, which is where Michelangelo's David statue is. Normally, you have to make reservations or else stand in a super duper long line, but I thought I'd see what I could do and low and behold I was able to get in! (free again!) It was really great, there are several Michelangelo statues and they were juxtaposed with photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe. Then, I went to the Duomo and decided to try my luck and getting in to the Uffizi (again, you're supposed to make reservations). Once again, I was lucky and was able to get in! Its a huge museum so I wasn't able to see it all in the time alotted because I got in about an hour before closing time, but it was a good time all the same. I met my friends for dinner later in the evening and we had a great meal followed by gelato.
Today, I started out early to several churches including Santo Spirito, Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella. Unlike Rome, you have to pay a little bit to get in to some of them, but it was generally worth it since the art inside is really great. All in all it was a good weekend trip especially since I didn't expect to get into either the Accademia or the Uffizi and was able to make it to both. By this afternoon I was ready to get back to Rome though, I kind of missed the busy streets and I'd had my fill of Renaissance art.
Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I leave for Pompeii. wish me luck!