The alarm woke us at 08.30 this morning, reminding us that we had a train to catch. Heads were cleared quickly, breakfast was eaten and ablutions were whatever you do with ablutions. It was a wee bit rainy but already several degrees warmer than of late so, although we took warm clothing, we didn’t actually wear it at this stage. I drove us to the station just four kilometres away, we parked in a large free car park and walked to the station just along the road where we bought our tickets at a newsagent’s just in front of the place.

We took the 10.18 regional express to Firenze Santa Maria Novella (or the main station in Florence!) arriving just after eleven and spent a bit of time reacquainting ourselves with the geography of a town we had visited 13 years ago. Our booked entry to the world-famous Uffizi Art gallery was for 12 noon and we walked into the ticket office as the Duomo Bell-tower struck midday. By our somewhat erratic standards the timing was truly awesome!

The next 4 hours were spent admiring some of the best paintings and sculptures the world has ever seen including work by Botticelli, Titian, Goya, Michelangelo, my favourite Albrecht Dürer, Rubens, El Greco and Da Vinci. The star of the gallery is undoubtedly Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus”, you know, the girl standing in the shell with her long hair strategically placed for modesty’s sake. Being common as muck, I kept thinking of the fun the Monty Python team had with this work of Art over the years and couldn’t help picturing her right leg twirling around and around. Sorry, art lovers.

The Uffizi

The Uffizi

You also get a first-class view of the Ponte Vecchio on the river Arno from the second floor but we were rather saddened to note that such an iconic historical monument now includes a target golf competition from the middle of the bridge to 3 floating “greens” on the river. Halfway through our visit we stopped at the café to have a rather expensive bite to eat and were robbed by a waiter who charged 5 Euro for a cup of coffee. The wise people were sitting outside on the roof terrace eating the sandwiches they’d made at home and drinking their own bottles of water. Oh well, no use crying over spilt Euros.

We left the Uffizi with a touch of visual overload. That tends to happen when you visit these really big galleries although the Quai d’Orsay in Paris is just so fantastic with its Impressionists (We’re only in it for the Monet!) that there is much less overload than you might expect. But one man’s meat is another man’s poison, so don’t necessarily take our advice, best to see for yourselves.

Ponte Vecchio and tee!

Ponte Vecchio and tee!

Looks good but what a hook he hit!

Looks good but what a hook he hit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our next stop was the Duomo, another cathedral with alternating black and white marble design, but what a shock inside! The place is incredibly bare and certainly not good enough to get on our list of must sees. Back we went to the Ponte Vecchio and a nice stroll around the streets of central Florence all decked-out for Xmas. This prompted us to buy a couple more presents for the family but once again they were chosen for their lack of weight rather than their appropriateness.

Duomo and Tower

Duomo and Tower

One of the famous bronze doors to the Battisteria

One of the famous bronze doors to the Battisteria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A short cup of coffee was taken at the station before we caught the six o’clock train back to San Romano-Montopoli where we found the Audi sitting waiting for us patiently as usual. Ten minutes later we were back in the Magic Caravan ready to settle down for the evening.

Although we did some Xmas stuff this evening it would be fair to say that it was done under a cloud as BBC World brought us the news of the awful shootings in Connecticut. In the midst of such terrible tragedy we were both impressed with Obama’s speech and felt we were listening to a man with genuine love for his fellow citizens. We noted how the Governor used the same phrase as was used after the events in Dunblane all those years ago – “Evil visited our town today.”

God bless the families who have lost a loved one in such senseless circumstances.

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