Friday, September 18, 2009

What I Did Right

I found the perfect hotel: overlooking the Arno, less than one block from the Ponte Vecchio, with a tremendous breakfast buffet. Oof. Fortunately, I was able to walk almost everywhere and work off those calories. There was no screen in the huge window in my room, so I could lean out and take photos, like this one of the Ponte Vecchio at night.
My last morning there, I was sitting in the breakfast room and thinking how elegant it was: tall ceilings, wall sconces and chandeliers, beautiful draperies and tablecloths, suave waiters in white jackets and black bowties. And just then, The Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" came on the sound system. Too funny!
I didn't rent a car: If you look at a map of Florence's historic area, you see something that looks like it was designed by someone who dropped a container of pick-up sticks. But, of course, it just evolved over the course of centuries. Some blocks consist entirely of one building, and some intersections have five or six streets feeding into them. The traffic is chaotic: tiny cars, a gazillion motorcycles (both of those modes of transport make perfect sense with the narrow streets), hundreds of thousands of pedestrians from all over the world, bicyclists, buses and the occasional horse-drawn carriages full of tourists. And yet it all works - I didn't see one accident, and saw only three or four dented cars. But I would be a babbling idiot (no remarks) if I had to drive there.
I planned a very good itinerary: I decided I didn't want to stagger from one museum to the next and risk having everything blur together, so I planned one museum per day, with plenty of time afterward to "digest" and wander with no agenda. A snapshot of my schedule:
Wednesday, Sept. 9: arrive at hotel early afternoon, after flying from Denver to Washington, D.C., to Munich to Florence.
Thursday, Sept. 10: hop-on, hop-off bus tour of the city, including a stop at the Piazzale Michelangelo overlooking Florence.
Friday, Sept. 11: Palazzo Pitti (who wants to be in a town without Pitti?)
Saturday, Sept. 12: bus tour to Siena and San Gimignano, south of Florence
Sunday, Sept. 13: Alinari National Museum of Photography (closed, so went shopping)
Monday, Sept. 14: Casa Buonarroti (Michelangelo's family home); late afternoon boat trip on the Arno (canceled because of rain).
Tuesday, Sept. 15: Uffizi Museum
Wednesday, Sept. 16: Accademia Gallery
Thursday, Sept. 17: home via Frankfurt

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