Florence — October 15-22, 2019

We spent Tuesday, Oct. 15,  getting to Florence, Italy. First drove to Madrid from Itrabo Monday, and then Tuesday caught a flight to Rome. From there, another flight to Florence. Arrived in a driving rainstorm. We stayed in an Airbnb very near Ponte Vecchio, a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, noted for still having shops built along it, as was once common.

One of our first activities on Wednesday was for Barb and I to go see Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Accademia.

We spent most of Thursday, Oct. 17, in the Palazzo Pitti, a vast, mainly Renaissance, palace in Florence, Italy. It is situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio.

The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. It grew as a great treasure house as later generations amassed paintings, plates, jewelry and luxurious possessions.

In the late 18th century, the palazzo was used as a power base by Napoleon and later served for a brief period as the principal royal palace of the newly united Italy. The palace and its contents were donated to the Italian people by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1919.

The palazzo is now the largest museum complex in Florence. The principal palazzo block is 32,000 square metres. It is divided into several principal galleries or museums.

In a separate “Gallery of Modern Art”, spread over 30 rooms, is a large collection that includes works by artists of the Macchiaioli movement and other modern Italian schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The pictures by the Macchiaioli artists are of particular note, as this school of 19th-century Tuscan painters led by Giovanni Fattori were early pioneers and the founders of the impressionist movement. The title “gallery of modern art” to some may sound incorrect, as the art in the gallery covers the period from the 18th to the early 20th century. No examples of later art are included in the collection since In Italy, “modern art” refers to the period before World War II. [Wikipedia]

The Uffizi Gallery is a prominent art museum located adjacent to the Piazza della Signoria in the Historic Centre of Florence in the region of Tuscany, Italy. One of the most important Italian museums and the most visited, it is also one of the largest and best known in the world and holds a collection of priceless works, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance.

After the ruling house of Medici died out, their art collections were gifted to the city of Florence under the famous Patto di famiglia negotiated by Anna Maria Luisa, the last Medici heiress. The Uffizi is one of the first modern museums. The gallery had been open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century, and in 1765 it was officially opened to the public, formally becoming a museum in 1865.

Today, the Uffizi is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Florence and one of the most visited art museums in the world. [Wikipedia]

Saturday, Oct. 19, we visited two impressive museums. First, the Leonardo da Vinci Museum. (Careful, there is also a lesser, private one in the same neighborhood.) And then a massive overwhelming Galileo Museum. Bold signs in each forbidding photography. But a member of our party, a very close relative of mine, snuck a few pics. (As did many other tourists around me.)

We climbed 414 steps up to the top of the Bell Tower for the Duomo one day. I was disappointed to find that the protective safely screen on the balcony was a severe impediment to photography. (Barb did much better with her iPhone.) On the next day we climbed 463 steps to the top of the Duomo itself on the Cathedral of Santa Maria. What a view! Afterwards we went for a walk-about that took us SE to high ground in the vicinity of Plazzale Michelangelo.

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