We all want perfect weather when we go on vacation, but what happens if it’s cold and rainy and you’re in a special place, like Florence, Italy? Follow this Michelangelo-heavy itinerary, and you’ll scarcely notice the rain (wear thermal socks and a warm hat and expect the bottom of your trousers to be soaked)!
First have a good, hot breakfast with lots of cappuccinos in your hotel. In Italy most hotel charges include breakfast, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Eat hearty!
Next visit Michelangelo’s David and The Prisoners at the Galleria dell’Accademia. If you don’t see any other art in Florence, you must see David and The Prisoners—my favorite works by Michelangelo. Photography isn’t allowed at the Accademia, so you’ll have to see David here and The Prisoners here. Michelangelo’s David, who serenely prepares to slay Goliath, is strong, confident, focused, and utterly gorgeous. I can feel The Prisoners’ (and Michelangelo’s) power as they try to break out of the blocks of marble that trap them. Divine! Don’t forget to order your tickets online and skip the lines, which are endless in the summer and only a bit better in the winter.
After that head to Basilica di San Lorenzo, which was the parish church of the Medici family. Brunelleschi (who designed the Duomo) designed the basilica, which is plain on the outside and enormous and beautiful on the inside. I can’t show you because no photos are allowed, so visit the basilica here. Although I thought the basilica was interesting, I especially liked the cloister, which houses the Laurentian Library. Wiki calls it “one of Michelangelo’s most important architectural achievements.” The most spectacular part of the basilica for me, however, is the Medici Chapels. The flamboyant Cappella dei Principi (Chapel of the Princes), begun in 1605, is majestic and glorious, and of course I loved Michelangelo’s Sagrestia Nuova (New Sacristy), which is gray and somber as befits a mausoleum. In addition to designing the sacristy, Michelangelo sculpted the tombs of Giuliano and Lorenzo Medici with their exquisite statues of Day and Night and Dawn and Evening.
Then, overwhelmed at the genius of Michelangelo and his fellow Renaissance artists and sculptors, find the nearby Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, which was completed in 1360. Although the exterior marble and colors are typical of Tuscan churches, the architecture is a mash-up of architectural styles. I find it quite playful with its Gothic arches and the scrollwork and large circles (a 15th-century invention by Battista Alberti) near the top. Yummy! Finally I got to take photos inside the basilica! My trigger finger was itching badly by then! The interior contains work by many famous artists of the day, and my two favorites were The Crucifix, by Giotto, and The Trinity, by Masaccio.
Lunch! You’ve earned a break by now, so stop for lunch at Osteria del Porcellino, which I mentioned in my previous post, or Trattoria Antico Fattore, which you’ll find a short distance from Del Porcellino. We liked Del Porcellino better, but Antico Fattore is just fine and warmed us up.
After lunch if you’re tired and wet and cold, as I was, you’ll take a nap, which I did. If, however, you’re still good to go, as were Kate and her dad, you’ll visit the interior of the Duomo (shockingly plain after such an elaborate facade) and then climb 414 steps to the top of the campanile, as Steve and Cade did last summer. Kate and Michael would have climbed to the top of the Duomo, but they couldn’t because it was closed that day.
Finally, despite the rain and the cold, Kate and Michael climbed to Piazza Michelangelo, which offers wonderful views of Florence. They finally returned to the hotel, cold and exhausted but exhilarated from their energetic afternoon.
Dinner. We ate dinner at the cantina at La Giostra, which we liked but didn’t love, and we walked home under a rain-free sky!
And that was our whirlwind trip to Florence. It’s such a magnificent city, and don’t worry if it rains!