This was our big museum day. We started off with a visit to Palazzo Vecchio, Florence's town hall since the early 1300's. As we were checking our backpack (they aren't allowed in the building), we were offered a tour of the building that was not coincidentally departing in two minutes. Way to lay on the pressure! It turned out to be a private tour because no one else had signed up, but for a grand total of 8 euros, it was a steal. Our young, very sharp tour guide gave a detailed history of the complex and had a very special surprise in store for us. Upon entering the maps room, she opened the door to a secret passageway that led into the former living quarters of the Duke and Duchess. Everyone else in the maps room at that time was very jealous that they couldn't join us. Imagine the other tourists' surprise when we unexpectedly reemerged from behind a map panel several minutes later!
Overall, it was a wonderful tour of a beautiful and not too overwhelmingly huge building. Interestingly, the building is still in heavy use today for official government functions and often certain wings are closed to the public when the mayor is there working. They even routinely host civil weddings here. Imagine getting married here as opposed to just about any government building in the USA (perhaps with the exception of the Santa Barbara courthouse)! This was one of Sarah's favorite stops in Florence.
My attempt at an artistic shot of the Tuscan hills through the very old wavy glass windows.
Then we ventured just next door to the Uffizi Gallery, a huge art gallery filled with historically significant and priceless works of art. According to Wikipedia, the wait time to enter the museum can be up to five hours in the high tourist season, but we were inside in under two minutes, thanks to our handy Firenze Card and a little Sandesara stealthiness.
Ahhh, one of our very favorite finds in the museum. Note the use of the rolled up brochure and selfie stick for our own artistic recreation of this work of art.
One of Hirsh's favorites: The Birth of Venus.
Just when we thought we were done with the Uffizi Gallery, it kept going. And going. And going. The place is deceptively huge and we were utterly exhausted after several hours there.
We enjoyed a quick bite to eat, a rest back at the apartment, then we were off to see David! While the rest of the Galleria dell'Accademia was pretty forgettable - especially after having spent many hours at Uffizi - David did not disappoint. He is absolutely as spectacular in person as we've all been led to believe.
One of the best decisions we made was to visit the gallery late in the day. When we arrived at 5:30, the place was packed. We waited it out and the crowds almost entirely disappeared ten minutes before closing time. Others were intimidated by the threatening closing bell, but not us! The remaining stubborn tourists took turns taking pictures for and of each other (no selfie sticks allowed in there) and it was a very special experience.
We had dinner at a restaurant we had found during our wandering the night before, Enoteca Coquinarius. It's the kind of place that fills up fast and if you don't have a reservation, you're out of luck. We loved the whole experience, from the food to the atmosphere to our adorable waiter. He really could not have been any sweeter or happier.