My dad went to the Mazerati factory in Modena so the three of us had half a day to wander by ourselves. We had a later start, which was so nice to sleep in and enjoy the banquet that the Plaza Hotel serves for breakfast — baguettes, croissants, caprese salad, yogurt, creamy eggs, sausage, bacon, various fruits and melons and citrus.
We walked the back way to the Accademia gallery up Via de’Pepi. I found an art store along the way that was definitely owned by Italians since one sign said “If you want to color, ask paper to us.” I love doing art and even just looking at the supplies, so I had fun looking at bottles of pigments, watercolors in sheets and individuals aquapencils. I got two pencils in a seafoam and magenta eggplant color to take home. The staff left us alone and were pleasant, too, which again is shocking after Rome’s rudeness or indifference.
It’s so much different walking around in the morning than at night because all the shops are boarded up and fewer tourists are busy running around the medieval streets.
We found the end of the line to the Accademia museum and waited in line. We got there just as it opened, but it took us about an hour to get through the line, even though it was probably less than 100 people. I have no idea why it took so long to get through that line and I was honestly very angry wasting the least hot part of the day in line. They really need to speed it up — over an hour to get around the block? Crazy.
The 8 euro ticket granted us entrance into the gallery which has a few rooms. The David is around the corner to the left in a huge pedestal with a grey domed wall behind it and perfect light shining through from a sunroof. The bottom right image shows a partially completed Michelangelo.
The other rooms in the museum held plasters of busts, musical instruments and mostly huge walls full of large religious paintings. I’m most knowledgeable and interested in modern artists, so for me a lot of the angelic and soft images weren’t very differentiated but still impressive to see what they did so long ago.
We got through in less than an hour.
Wandering through the town streets, I stopped at a snack bar to try la rustica which was puff pastry slice with ham and cheese. It took us a new route back by the Duomo and back to Santa Croce.
We went the back street through the leather school (Scuola del Cuoio), which was behind Santa Croce church so you walk through a courtyard behind the bell towers. Through windows, we could watch the students working with leather in a workshop. We tilted our heads down since the windows were low, showing into a basement. Up the stairs was the leather shop, one of only a couple places left in Florence where you can buy true real, 100% Italian leather products. We hoped to buy a purse there but the styles, while handmade and beautiful, were too colorful and chic for daily use. Many were embroidered. Work stations in the hallways had students hand stitching and cutting pieces of leather together. The entrance has bins of smaller, cheaper leather items like wallets and belts so those were fun to see.
In the afternoon, mom and I went to Santa Croce church which costs 8 euro to get in. It’s a very nice church with an inlaid wooden roof, so it seemed, and famous tombs laying around the edge of the church, like Leonardo di Vinci and Michelangelo.
The floor was marble and, although it wasn’t as detailed or colorful as others, it’s special because of the famous burials. Many wood doors were especially pretty and inlaid — some led to the leather school and others to a courtyard outside. We didn’t stay too long since our feet hurt from all the morning’s walking. But we felt it was nice to go inside and see yet another impressive church that Americans could never build.
Dinner was simply a smorgasbord meal (think baby carrots, roasted chicken, yogurt) from the Conad grocery store down the street. Afterwards, we walked down to Ponte Vecchio, the big covered bridge over the river.
A lot of the shops inside the Ponte Vecchio marketplace (i.e. jewelers) were closed for the evening, so our walk served mostly the purpose of seeing Florence at dusk. The bridge was very crowded and we loved seeing the sketchers and painters along the river; one painted on glass. Across the river we also walked around the damp, cool streets for a bit. It had the perfect dusk atmosphere with people just getting where they need to go for the evening.