22 Jan 2013

The Sights of Florence

Piazza del Duomo & Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori

  • This open space is very populated by tourist all year round. There are lots of walking tour groups throughout the whole day that pass through this area, so expect queues to enter the church.
  • You must wear appropriate clothing to enter the church. For women this means shoulders and knees covered. A lesson I discovered when I entered wearing my shorts. They do sell disposable wraps at the entry of the church so if you aren't appropriately dressed they will make you cover up. 
  • You can enter the church, climb to the top of either the dome or the tower bell or go under ground to see artifacts discovered underneath the church - all options have an entry fee. 
  • We opted to climbed the dome which is a hectic climb to the top. To enter the dome it costs 8E. I don't recommended it for those with weak knees or young children. There are many steps, very narrow and spirals in a circle that seem to go on forever. They don't seem to monitor crowd control going inside the dome so it does get congested, which may play on your claustrophobia fears. Once you reached the first landing you can see up close the master piece painted on the ceiling. The whole painting image itself up close is very scary, although I am a scarey cat! It portrays heaven and hell and shows images of what happens to people who go to hell. There's two massive demon creatures and they are literally eating these doomed bodies in their mouth ... gorse! scary! No wonder the church had such power over people back in the day. From this first landing you have the option to walk even further up to the landing above the painting and then go even further up onto the tower and see panoramic views of Florence.        
  • Around the plaza there are cafes, restaurants and local retailers if you wish to eat grab something to bite or buy some local products.
  • I also think the church exterior is amazing, especially when it's illuminating at night. 

Galleria dell'Accademia (Gallery of the Academy)

  • This gallery hosts the famous Statue of David along with other famous and not so famous artist paintings, sculptures and artifacts. 
  • It costs 11E to enter the gallery and you can book tickets in advance to avoid the queues.
  • I never realised how massive the famous statue was until I saw it with my own eyes. Unfortunately you can not take any photos in the gallery. There are plain clothed staff walking around who will yell at you to stop taking photos if you do.     
  • It costs 15E per person to enter gallery.
  • Expect massive queues for this gallery unless you arrive when it first opens. Our first attempt to see this gallery we arrived at 9:30am (it opens at 9am) and the queue was already an hour wait to get in. There is also a queue for the tour group and another queue for pre-paid tickets. Both queues are given priority to general admission. 
  • While we were in the line there are tour hosts who do try and convince you to join a tour group which starts every 15-30 minutes. But what we learnt from another tour hosts was you could pre-book your tickets in advance for another day therefore be able to join the pre-paid ticket priority queue. Near the entrance there is a ticket office and you can book and pay for tickets in advance. You must specify roughly what time you plan to arrive on the day you which to visit the gallery as ticket is only valid for that day and time. They do gives you a 15 minute window from the time you specified to arrive. We opted for this option and decided to do the gallery another day. 
  • Inside the gallery hosts many art pieces, sculptures and artifacts mostly of Italian artists but more famously it contains The Birth of Venus painting. You can't take any photos inside the gallery but we managed to take a sneaky shot. 

Piazzale Michelangelo

  • This is a look out spot for those wanting to see panoramic views of Florence city.
  • Area can become very touristy as bus loads of tour groups arrive all day. 
  • There are vendors and a cafe around the area so you can purchase local goods, souvenirs or sit enjoy the view and grab something to eat. 
  • We caught a taxi to the look out spot but walked back down afterwards. The walk wasn't that far from the city, about 10 minutes walk. Getting back isn't hard to figure out when you're above looking into town.  

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