I had an absolutely wonderful time in Florence! It is clearly a city for tourists, but the museums and landmarks are, none-the-less, magnificent. I was completely exhausted every night from walking around the small city and its museums. I probably gained five pounds just from eating the gelato every day, but it was totally worth it!
I went to the Galleria dell'Accademia to see the David statue. The statue itself is unbelievable. The intricacies of the sculpture impressed me the most, especially because it is 17 feet tall. Aside from David, there is a plethora of other sculptures and paintings in the Galleria dell'Accademia. I found it interesting that a significant number of artist from the last few centuries came from and worked in Florence (one statistic said 300 out of the 1000 most important artists were from Florence).
I spent one afternoon in the Galleria degli Uffizi. It seems like I could have spent all four days in the Uffizi and not seen everything. Its collection is only outnumbered by the Vatican itself! Nevertheless, I did see the Birth of Venus, which was incredible. For me, it seemed quite different from most of the other paintings in the Uffizi. I will let the experts speak to its magnificence, but I will say that all of the sculptures and painting were utterly amazing.
The second day, after seeing David and then walking around the Boboli gardens (an incredible place), I walked up to Piazzale Michelango. From there, I was able to get a great panoramic view of Florence. It also happened to be sunset, which made the view spectacular! The sun slowly descended behind a hill above Florence. I took several pictures of the sunset, but none quite capture the beauty and intensity of it. I have never seen anything so beautiful.
On my third day, I booked a whirlwind tour of Tuscany. In twelve hours I saw three places: San Gimignano, Siena, and a farm in the Chianti region. With about three or so hours in each location, I only got a brief introduction.
San Gimignano is a medieval walled town that is in remarkable condition considering it is 700 years old. It is known for having towers. Now there are only 14, but at one point it had something like 72 towers. I was able to climb to the top of one of the towers in the center (seen in the photo below). It provided a great view of the Tuscan landscape.
Siena is a beautiful town. It is an UNESCO world heritage site. I had lunch there before seeing the huge cathedral, Santa Maria della Scala. I was able to climb to the top of the panoramico for another great view of the Tuscan landscape. The cathedral itself is very ornate. It is made of white, pink, and black marble. It was hard to look at because it was so bright with the sun shining off of it. Inside there were tons of sculptures on the walls, ceiling, and floor by famous artists like Michelangelo. I also was able to snap some photos of the Piazza del Campo, which had about eight thousand tourists milling around it.
The tour concluded at the Casanova organic farm in the Chianti region. The farm produces wine, balsamic vinaigrette, olive oil, truffle oil, and a few other things. We were able to try two red wines, two dessert wines, 8 year old balsamic vinaigrette, 30 year old balsamic vinaigrette on ice cream, olive oil, truffle oil, and honey. It was all very very good. I was also able to see the sunset from the farm, which was incredible (photo below).
Overall, I sincerely enjoyed my time in Florence. It is certainly not a place that I would like to live as it is heavily geared towards tourists, but it is a place that I would like to visit again. There are so many incredible landmarks and museums that it was hard to see everything in four days. With such great sights and food, it is no wonder that so many people go there!