Fine Art Florence

Why Florence? Because somewhere in our research we read that 50% of the world’s fine art is in Italy, and 50% of that is in Florence. So we decided to come and see for ourselves. Here is what we found:

  1. Of the five large cities we visited in France and Italy, Florence was definitely the most crowded. Tourism is absolutely alive and well here.
  2. Art does, in fact, ooze from every corner of the city, particularly fine sculpture.
  3. The old city is actually quite compact. We did a downloaded Rick Steves walking tour, connecting two sets of headphones to an Ipad. Very enjoyable and educational and free.
  4. We found two fabulous eating venues: Mercato Centrale (Central Market) has a massive indoor food court that serves excellent lunches. And for dinner, we returned several times to Piazza Della Signoria (Lordship Plaza), a giant public square that used to be the place where judiciary pronouncements were made and people were hung. It is sprinkled with a dozen massive statues, and ringed by an equal number of delightful outdoor restaurants and impressive public buildings. See pictures below.
  5. The Duomo (Cathedral) in Florence is not as massive as the one in Milan. Nor is it as famous as Notre Dame in Paris or St. Peter’s in Rome. But have always admired its Brunelleschi-designed dome, and when I saw the building up close I decided it might be my favorite of the lot.
  6. From the architecture and art, you can see that a lot of money has passed through Florence in the past. From the crowds passing high end fashion stores and diamond merchants on Ponte Vecchio Bridge, it is clear that a lot of money still is.
  7. Our Airbnb was in a fantastic location, perhaps two blocks from Uffizi Gallery, one of the most famous art museums in the world. But “old town location” means old building, as in built in 14th century, before Christopher Columbus was born. We survived without major incident, but have some fun stories to tell (suspenseful elevator, loss of hot water, door handle coming off…)
  8. We didn’t see it all in four days, but saw enough to think we probably won’t be back, as there are other places to see. But if you like art and architecture, you should go there once. Three or four days would be a good amount of time if you are prepared.
  9. Some people say Michelangelo’s David is the finest sculpture ever created. I would not go that far, but this 14′ high statue is absolutely stunning. I have been disappointed at seeing some famous art in person for the first time, but not with this one.
  10. You might not recognize the artist (Verrocchio) who did the bronze sculpture pictured below, with Thomas reaching out to place his hand in Jesus’ wound. But you will recognize his pupil: Leonardo Da Vinci. And on another outside wall of the same church, you will find an original Donatello, probably the greatest sculptor pre-Michelangelo. As I said, the place “oozes” art.