We left beloved London in our MFMP art history trip to greet one day immersed in the art and wonder of Florence. And boy oh boy did we make the most of that day! Elle was our “guide” for Florence and she guided us around that place like a little mother hen. And oh! The art!

Although we only had one full day, we had the evening we got there as well and a quick morning the next day so it did’t feel like we had to run the whole time. Although we did run to catch the sunset at the end…more on that soon.

First evening in Florence

Let’s start with arriving from the airport and the train where we arrived in Florence and started dragging our suitcases through those picturesque streets.

We were giddy as could be to be immersed in that city that seems so easy to navigate and get around…if you’re willing to walk, walk, walk. Phew! We walked a lot.

After we got tucked into our little airbnb, which Elle found that happened to be right next to the Piazza della Signoria (the main square in Florence spilling over with statues and SO MUCH HISTORY), we took a walk to explore.

Found some delicious Italian pizza…

…and of course, some delicious gelato.

One Day Immersed in Florence

We started out early so we could fit in all we had on our agenda. There were three main things we made reservations for through “Get Your Guide” to keep us in check.

We walked through the Piazza della Signoria I mentioned above to grab a quick breakfast before our first art history stop.

The girls in Piazza della Signoria

I have to take a minute to talk about this main square because it’s pretty historical and I want to remember that all that historical business came alive to me after reading The Agony and the Ecstasy.

I’ll just quote from this website in case you want to know a few details that fascinated me:

The Piazza della Signoria has been the center of political life in Florence since the 14th century with the prominent Palazzo Vecchio overlooking the square. It was the scene of great triumphs, such as the return of the Medici in 1530 as well as the Bonfire of the Vanities instigated by Savonarola, who was then himself burned at the stake here in 1498 after he was denounced by the Inquisition as a heretic. A marble circle inscription on the piazza shows the location where he was burned.

Oh all so interesting to walk through that history from hundreds of years ago!

We grabbed a quick breakfast from Shake Cafe that was recommended by our friend (thank you Maddie! it was so good!)

Then it was on to our first art history stop:

The Uffizi Gallery

Oh man, we loved this place with all our hearts, filled up with so many art masterpiece gems.

Exploring art at the Uffizi Gallery

Probably the most famous here is Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. This one has been reproduced in so many different ways through the years, but it was amazing to see it there in person…huge, and to stand there with my girls admiring it, trying to take in all the details.

The Birth of Venus art of Florence

We loved it but we may have loved Primavera even more:

Let’s get a better look at all those details…the mythological figures and all the attention to detail of “life” and fertility.

Filippo Lippi’s Madonna and Child with Two Angels below on the right was so beautiful as well. There is so much to this painting…and many believe the Madonna is actually Lippi’s wife who was a nun (lots of stories that go into that…look it up because so interesting!).

We loved these other famous artworks as well:

SO many Madonna and childs!

Michelangelo’s half finished scene up there on the right above.

And his only surviving panel painting of The Holy Family:

Stunning and famous self portraits:

Another favorite we have all studied:

Parmigianino’s Madonna with the Long Neck:

We can’t forget Medusa by Caravaggio below on the left.

And I could go on and on and on about all these works of art, but by now you may be feeling like those girls up there on the right were feeling by the end…ha!

But if you ever want to talk Uffizi art with me, just know I’m THERE for you!

We pulled ourselves away from this beauty since we had to get onto our next reservation:

The Florence Cathedral and Climbing to the Top of the Duomo

Oh my goodness I have SO much to say about this!! But I’m going to have to kind of speed through it for now. Please ask questions if you want more information.

This place is one of my favorite cathedrals in the whole wide world.

Elle, Grace and Claire in front of the Duomo

Can you even believe all that detail??

The Florence Cathedral

SO incredibly beautiful.

It is much more simple on the inside…

…except for the dome which is all-out astounding:

I think it’s so interesting there’s so much written about the cathedral itself, and so many other works of art, but this dome?? It should be enshrined it’s so incredible! It’s the Last Judgment painted by Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari from 1572-1579. More about that in a minute…

Climbing to the top of the Dome

We got to take the stairs up to the tippy-top of that gorgeous dome.

We stepped up and up and up until we got to the inner interior ring where we could see the Last Judgement up close and personal:

This artwork was inspired by Michelangelo’s Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.

It is pretty amazing to look at, but when you think about those painters suspended on scaffolding painting it?? Yow. I just couldn’t get enough of it.

There are so many details, you could stand there and take it in for hours.

Also, incredible stained glass windows:

Just think about the artists that put their heart and sweat and blood into these things. I love to think about them studying the scriptures so closely, trying to get their own interpretations out of what was going on. Working to understand and portray in such a way to inspire the hearts of all those who would see it.

I stood there awestruck.

But they hustled us right on to more stairs…let’s look down real quick first…

…ok and on to more stairs:

Up to the tippy-top:

Where all of Florence stretched out below us in all it’s red-roofed glory.

Shawni, Elle, Grace and Claire at the top of the Duomo in Florence

Let’s talk about this dome for a minute:

The dome is an absolute masterpiece of art, enchanting the world since the moment of its creation: the symbol of Florence, of Renaissance culture, and of all Western humanism.

The dome was built between 1420 and 1436 to a plan by Filippo Brunelleschi, and is still the largest masonry vault in the world. Such a structure had been planned since the 1300s, but the admirable innovation of Brunelleschi was to create it without reinforcements in wood, since none could have sustained a cupola of this size.

Duomo Firenze

Loved taking in those grand views, and climbing back down, so glad we weren’t standing in that line below in the heat!

Let’s take one more look at that dome up there…love to think we were up in that very top.

After this we had a tiny break, got a little grumpy with each other from being tired and hungry, found a little lunch…and gelato that fixes everything, and took off for our next stop:

The Accademia Gallery and The David

Oh we had sure studied The David in art classes as well as a little review the night before re-listening to parts of The Agony and the Ecstasy.

So when we arrived at the we tried to hold onto our anticipation to see that thing as we passed some other pretty incredible things first:

I love this depiction of God giving His son to save humanity. Look at His face.

So beautiful.

We also loved how most of the cupids were just heads with wings. I had never noticed that before.

This plaster cast of the Rape of the Sabine Women was pretty eye-catching as well.

There was a pretty cool instrument museum.

But really, our hearts were pumping to see The David.

And as we turned the corner all our eyes got as big as saucers since there it was:

Grace and Elle in front of The David in Florence

Some interesting things about this statue I learned from The Agony and the Ecstasy:

  • The David was carved from a 17-foot block of marble discarded by multiple sculptors who thought it just wasn’t shaped in such a way to create a figure.
  • Michelangelo saw it and fell in love. He know he could make something of it.
  • Michelangelo studid many different depictions of The David from other artists. All were to boyish or weak in his opinion. From his studies he had learned that David was strong, had done many things to make him trained to be equal to this task. He wanted to portray his strength.
  • At first he thought he would do David standing on the head of the defeated Goliath, but then, after studying the story more thoroughly, chose to create the moment when David decided he would muster up the courage to do this thing. Michelangelo wanted to appeal to all human nature…we all have that moment where we make a decision. One that will haunt us or one that will grow us. David, through Michelangelo’s famous statue, had just chosen the choice that would grow him. He believed he was up to the task at hand. And because he believed in himself, he was ready.

We were sufficiently wowed.

We loved The Prisoners by Michelangelo, unfinished statues he was making for the Pope, but that turned out to symbolize the way Michelangelo felt he was releasing “prisoners” from the stone.

There were so many other things to love in this museum.

I personally loved seeing this statue of Brunelleschi who designed the cathedral dome we had just climbed. Love that he was sculpted designing while looking up at the dome.

The best dinner

By this time we were ready to find dinner. Luckily Elle led us past by our favorite cathedral en route…

We had the most scrumptious dinner. We had to laugh as they wound us through this restaurant with so many different rooms and styles to our table.

This is the name of the restaurant for those who may want to find it…definitely highly recommended by us!

Race to Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sunset

By the time we were done the sun was setting and we were pretty determined to get to the Piazzale Michelangelo in time to watch the sunset. We RAN past the sun setting on our beloved:

Ran across the bridge through the swarms of tourists and through the thick, hot Florence summer night:

We followed a swarm of tourists up the hill…to what turned out to be the wrong spot:

But still a pretty one!

Still determined to make it to right spot though, so we kept running…

…and finally made it.

Oh it was a pretty incredible feeling to cram in with that mass of humanity taking in God’s glory above and man’s glory below. All we had run around to see that day enfolded into the same, peaceful view.

There was a guitarist playing right next to us and a man in the front trying to get everyone involved in dancing and there is just something about a mass of people just enjoying together that is so beautiful to me. The night set on the city.

We made our way back to town, Elle found a rooftop bar with the best views:

And we settled in back at our airbnb, feet throbbing from so much walking and hearts filled right up with so much gratitude for that day. Filled up with God and man’s art swimming through our dreams.

Off to Naples

We got up the next morning, took a quick stop at Shake Cafe again, and headed to our delayed train:

To Naples!

Claire looks a little nervous…ha!

To be continued…

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  1. That took forever to load between the ads and the photos. How does it feel to live not being in any city more than 17 weeks?

    1. I love all the photos but the ads are so prevalent now since the redesign, at least on mobile, that it just takes too long to load and scroll and I find myself closing posts before reading. Not sure if that’s something you’re able to fix, Shawni, but it would be much appreciated if we could go back to enjoying your blog with fewer ads as it used to be.

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