Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Friday in Florence - We visit the Uffizi

For our last day in Florence, we had pre-booked tickets for the Uffizi Gallery. Sarah and I made our way by bus to save our legs, so met up with the others in the Piazza del Signoria, allowing another opportunity to see its population of sculptures.
We almost came a cropper in trying to gain entry to the Uffizi. As we'd left the apartment separately, we'd failed to do the usual checks and I had not brought either the passports to prove that our offspring had student status, or indeed the computer printout referring to the booking. Eventually, the ticket clerk (a real Jobsworth) grudgingly accepted the girls 'driving licences plus student cards as proof of their ages and status and the booking number, which was written in my trusty Moleskin. We also had a little difficulty queue-jumping on the disabled ticket here without the visual prompt of a wheelchair, but again my two walking sticks and general wobbliness were accepted as proof of my disability and we were spared a long queueing experience after all.
Photography is, of course, not allowed within the gallery. Room after room contain the most stupendous paintings and sculptures, arranged roughly in date order. The sheer quantity and quality are overwhelming, and in ideal world one would make many visits over the course of time. The Botticelli Birth of Venus was spellbinding but I was less moved by his Primavera, which has never appealed to me much for some reason. Again, I was drawn by the rich colours and gilding of the medieval art. Again, we ended up buying a book of the collection, as an anchor for the memory of the experience.
We broke our tour for lunch in the restaurant and had to club together our currency, as it does not take credit cards. The views from there and on the roof terrace are stupendous, as seen in the photographs below, and it was a great pleasure to look out over the rooftops to Fiesole and the surrounding hills before diving back into the closer and confined pleasures of the art collection.

Once we'd had our fill of art, we had a last shopping expedition and I left the others to call at Il Papiro for another Florentine stationery fix before meeting again on the steps of the Orsanmichele. Ben and I took a bus, supposedly to save my legs, while the others walked back to the apartment. We ran foul of the re-routing of buses due to the extensive roadworks taking place in the area, and were taken off south of the Arno and, instead of coming north again as I'd expected, continued out towards the south-west suburbs. To add insult to injury, the bus driver closed the door before we managed to alight from the bus and we travelled out further. As we were on a one-way street, it was not a simple matter of catching the next bus back in the opposite direction and we had no option but to make our way back, painfully, on foot. A good rest was necessary before I was able to rouse myself for a last supper at Al Vecchio Carlino's (where I discovered a delicious Tuscan dish of Pork steak and Sage on a bed of Canellini) and then back to the apartment to pack.

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