Today was perfect blue skies, though not too warm, a lovely backdrop for the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. Another site not to disappoint, the tower is quite extraordinary. For me it is a trip down memory lane as I remember my first visit here with my parents when I was about 7, walking up the tower with my dad as my mum waited on the ground because of her fear of heights.
The best part of the visit is to watch every group of tourists trying to get the perfect shot of people pretending to hold up, kick over or carry the tower, hilarious! We too have the obligatory efforts on record. The cathedral was another of exceptional beauty with fabulous marble work, my favorite parts being the very modern alter tables and an exceptionally detailed marble pulpit. More bones on view here too, we’re guessing there will be more to come in Italy.
Moving on the next morning we are keen to explore Florence. After a cruise around town, very difficult in Vincent, we manage to find a parking spot and walk into the tourist centre.
We pass the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, it’s original butchers shops now a trove of gold and silver. Our first effort was to stand in line for nearly 3 hours for entry to the Galleria Degli Uffizi, housing famous Renaissance art by the likes of da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Titian and many more. The time spent in the queue was yet another chance to meet some new friends, a lovely family from Alabama, Mum, dad, daughter and son. The perfect way to fill the hours with tales of their travels and ours.
The Uffizi was quite wonderful but we felt we were over art for a while as we ventured back into the streets, we call it art gallery fatigue. We decided we had time to go to the Cathedral. WOW. This is the hugest structure of red green and white marble we’ve ever seen. Within the detail is amazing but it is the marble floor that grabs your attention, nice to look down instead of getting a neck ache from ceiling staring for a change.
Still time if we hurried to get to the Galleria Dell’accademia, home of Michelangelo’s David. We had seen the copy outside the Uffizi but knew we just had to see the real thing. To muster up some energy we find the Lindt shop selling ice-cream. This is just the thing to give us a little energy boost and the resulting flavor was the best we have ever had.
Luckily the late hour meant walking straight into this gallery without the queue. We walked around the rooms in order savouring the moment we would set eyes upon David. Admiring other works of Michelangelo, some unfinished. The girls lead me in with my eyes closed and there he is before you, simply perfect. Standing over 5m tall he really is a vision of beauty. Having the luxury of few people we spend at least ½ hour just sitting and taking him in from every angle, a sight one will never forget, before we are thrown out at closing time. A really full day of sightseeing and back home to drive out of town to sleep, exhausted but exhilarated.
Another day begins as we drive on to San Gimignano, another recommended site in the region. We stop across the valley and eat our lunch overlooking the town of 14 towers, admiring its beauty. Looking across to the town we could see the shine of all the cars glinting in the sun, a mecca of tourists. We did drive over to the town but the volume of people turned us away and we headed on to Volterra, the town depicted in New Moon, for all those Twilight fans.
Here we could move at leisure through the towns ancient walls and enjoy the atmosphere of days gone by, much better than fighting for a space with the throngs. We visit the cathedral, baptistery and crypt and then move on to a palace that is still lived in by the descendants of the original owners and enjoy the walls filled with treasures collected from all over the world. We drive a short distance from town and find a private little spot that we end up staying for two nights, shattered from so much sightseeing and needing to recharge, a PJ’s day in Italy before setting off for Siena.