Today was a lot more calm than yesterday, but I am so overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I saw.
I went back across the river en route to Giardino Boboli. I went to the entrance I saw marked on my map and tried to use my Firenzecard, but the lady directed me to the main entrance through Palazzo Pitti. I went there and saw that I could get all of these other tickets for free with my card, so I decided to go for it. I got a voucher for 5 museums and the gardens. I passed the palace yesterday, but I wasn’t really interested…I’m glad I went today!
First I went to the Museo di Argenti that houses a large number of “treasures” from the Medici family. You weren’t supposed to take pictures, but I snapped a few with my phone (shhh, it’s a secret). It was really beautiful and there was so much beautiful jewelry! There were also lots of things from Mexico, China, and Japan that had been given to or bought by the Medici! It was so crazy to think that noble families from that time period were collecting luxury goods from Asia, at random.
I can just imagine all of these noble families gathering for random events. Sitting around a grand room presenting each other with gifts form all the places they’ve either directly conquered or helped conquer by funding or supplying forces. I knew about Italy’s relationship with Japan, just barely, because I read an account of a Japanese ambassador visiting Venice in the 16th or 17th century. The Jesuits also went to Japan for a period of time, so I’m sure that served as a bridge between the two places. I thought the Mexican “treasures” were really random and interesting…obviously given by Spain, but still…
After that, I went to the Costume Museum. I wasn’t exactly impressed, but it was still neat! It showcased the work of a lot of the pioneers of Italian fashion from the early to mid twentieth century. They did have 3 pieces of really old clothing from members of the Medici family, which was my favorite part. If you are interested in hats, they have a HUGE display!
Once I finished with the costumes, I went to the Palatine Gallery, the royal apartments, and the Gallery of Modern Art. The royal apartments were really beautiful and it was intriguing to see how each room was decorated. The furniture was insane!
The Palatine Gallery and Museum of Modern Art were amazing! There were SO many paintings that I got really overwhelmed. I don’t know much about art, so it’s hard for me to get excited about it, but I was amazed to see the beautiful paintings still coming out of Italy in the early 20th century. Modern American art (i.e. Cubism) is really repulsive to me, so I was glad to see artists were still painting beautiful scenery into the 1920s!
<If you can’t tell, that is future Saint Agatha getting her nipples clamped…painted by Sebastiano del Piombo>
I really hate going to places like this because I know for a fact I have seen awesome stuff and famous works by great artists, but if you put a gun to my head right now, I couldn’t tell you what I saw or why any of them were special. Although I obviously find it beautiful, I feel like I take seeing all of this art for granted because, due to my own ignorance, I can’t fully appreciate it. If you are interested in Art or History or just want to look at some cool stuff, I highly suggest cruising the Polo Museale Fiorentino website! They have catalogs and digital archives of everything featured in all of their museums in Florence…which means you have free access to thousands of works of art and historical documents!
After the art, fashion, interior design, jewelry, and “treasure” viewing, I was going to explore the Boboli Garden. I started walking around and realized I could go back to the original entrance I was at earlier that morning and start from there. As I was walking, I noticed another building with an open gate and decided to go see what it was. It was the Museum of Natural History aka La Specola! I had passed it earlier in the morning when I was going back to Palazzo Pitti to get my tickets, but there were hoards of school kids out front, so I decided to wait until another time. I got there about 2:30 and I was the only person there until the very end!
I got in for free with my FirenzeCard and…
IT WAS THE COOLEST MUSEUM I HAVE EVER BEEN TO!
It’s 20 or so rooms with ceramic floors and floor-to-ceiling wooden cabinets with rolled glass windows, chocked FULL of preserved birds, fish, animals (including the Medici family’s former pet Hippopotamus O___0), sea creatures and bugs, plus a huge collection of anatomically correct wax figures from early medical researchers! Most of the stuff dates back to the 18th and 19th century. That’s right, there are dead animals older than the United States of America in there! Rather than explaining further, here are some pictures:
I stayed there until the curator kicked me out because they were closing. I was going to go back into the Boboli Garden, but it was closed by then too. From what I saw, I think the garden I saw yesterday was prettier, but this one may have been more historic since it was a royal garden and not the garden of a private family…at least I’ll have something to see the next time I come here!
After leaving the last museum, I was walking towards the river when I saw the Church of San Felice and decided to stop. It turns out there is an altar piece painted by Giotto in there and from what I gathered, a lot of miracles are attributed to that church! I left a candle offering and prayed a little bit, before getting back on my way.
I stopped and sat on the steps of the Basilica of Santo Spirito to take some footage for a video and then went back across the river. I saw this cool bar called Volume while I was filming. I might go check it out Friday night. I don’t want to go out at night alone, but it looked really chill, the Yelp reviews were good, and it’s a straight-shot across the river from my hostel, so I think it will be fine! I stopped on the bridge to take some pictures before crossing:
Once on the other side, I walked past Chiesa di Santa Trinita and went inside for a minute. Some old women had gathered for their daily rosary recitation and it was really beautiful to listen to. Afterwards, I headed toward my hotel again and ended up going through the Muslim sector of town. I found this awesome, small shop by my hostel that was super reasonable! I bought a small bottle of wine, a sandwich, chips, and a fresh salad for only 11 Euros. I told the man I would be back everyday! If you are ever in Florence it is between Via Della Scalla and Via Palazzuolo on Via dell’Albero or Via del Canacci (I’ll let you know tomorrow)!
Other than the SWEET natural history museum and walking my feet to the bone, nothing really crazy happened today. If you are planning a trip to Florence I have a few suggestions though! After visiting the other side of the river, I would definitely suggest staying there. The Otro Arno as it’s called, is surprisingly awesome and much more quiet and clean than the other side of the river (it is probably cheaper too). You could EASILY spend a full day at the Palazzo Pitti and Specola, and another full day exploring the gardens, then just take a few hours to go to the major attractions on the other side (bell tower, Santa Croce, dome, accademia). In the Otro Arno, there are so many beautiful things to see, it is less tourist dense, and it’s just more chill. If you are young and want to party, then disregard the suggestion. Also, dress in dark colors, don’t carry a backpack, wear comfortable leather shoes, and you’ll fit right in!
I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow, yet. I might go explore the area around Santa Croce because I really like it there and my FirenzeCard will expire tomorrow, since it’s the third day. I also might go to Pisa since I’ve never been. If I don’t go to Pisa tomorrow, I will probably go Friday. Saturday is going to be spent going to the laundry, repacking, and more walking (probably over to Otro Arno again)!
Talk to you guys tomorrow!