We caught the train from Rome to Florence. Our hotel in Florence is in a 15th century building and the rooms are lovely. It is also conveniently located close to the station, and walking distance from the main part of Florence. The only downside is that our room overlooks the road, so is a bit noisy.

After checking in, we walked to the Doumo. The exterior is incredibly ornate, but the interior, while vast, is relatively plain. Though from the normal access areas, you can’t properly see the painting on the inside of the dome. After that, we went to the baptistry, which had a magnificent ceiling, and then the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo where we saw Michelangelo’s Pieta and some of the original door panels for the baptistry (the baptistry itself now has replica panels on the door). The Museo was surprisingly uncrowded.

Finally, we climbed the 463 steps up the dome. This meant that we got to actually see the ceiling painting, and also the magnificent view of Florence from the top. Fortunately, the weather is still clear and sunny.

After this, we wandered around the streets of Florence for a bit, and ended up in the Piazza della Signoria, where we admired both the fountain and the sculptures in the Loggia della Signoria. I particularly liked the Perseo. We also went into the Palazzo Vecchio – like the Museo, surprisingly uncrowded.

The hotel had been unable to get us tickets to the Uffizi, so on Thursday morning we wandered past to see how bad the queue was (very!) and then went to the Museo del Bargello where we saw yet more magnficent sculpture – and which again (compared to the queue for the Uffizi) was relatively uncrowded. I loved seeing the original Winged Mercury. Donatello’s bronze David was undergoing restoration – it will take approximately two years – but they are actually doing it in the museum, so you can see it and learn about the process, which is partly good old-fashioned manual cleaning, but which also uses high-tech laser work.

The hotel had booked us tickets for the Galleria dell’Accademia at 1:00, which we were very pleased about when we saw the queue was around the corner. Seeing Michelangelo’s David was incredible – from all the pictures, plus the copy outside the Palazzo Vecchio, I thought I knew what to expect, but walking into the gallery and seeing it at the far end of the room I realised that I actually had no idea just how impressive it really is. This was definitely the high point of the Accademia – but it is still surprising how many people seem to focus entirely on that (and the Uffizi) and yet don’t bother with the other museums. And of course, there were many, many museums we didn’t get to at all, so I can only imagine what we might have missed.

We still have two more days in Florence, but we had planned to have a day trip to either Siena (for me) or to Maranello (for Michael to see Galleria Ferrari). After discussing various options, we decided that while we could try to brave the queues for the Uffizi we were actually feeling a bit galleried-out – and there is sure to be another trip to Florence some day, when we will book the Uffizi well in advance – so instead we would have two day trips rather than one. So we are going to Siena on Friday and Maranello on Saturday.

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