Are you really crazy about the art from the 13th to the 17th century? Must you see Gothic altar pieces, world famous Renaissance pictures, Flemish, French and German masters of the Baroque? If so, you *must* go to the Uffizi, of course. But certainly you don’t want to wait half a day to get in, you’ve got better things to do!
Call the following number (from abroad): 0039/055294883, every day except Monday (on Mondays ALL museums are closed!) from 8.30 am to 9 pm, you’ll get the Florence museum service and can order a ticket in advance. When you’re there you can go to a special entrance for pre-booked tickets.
If you haven’t been to Florence yet, you don’t know how valuable that advice is! The last time I was there, I was at the entrance at 9 am expecting a handful of tourists. Who wants to get up early when on hols? The expected handful turned out to be approximately one thousand, when I had reached the end of the queue, I was already in a different quarter of the city! Who were these early birds? At a guess about 80% were Japanese, maybe they hadn’t overcome their jet lag yet and didn’t find it early at all. As I had already been to the Uffizi twice before, I didn’t wait, but followed my alternative programme.
If you decide not to go in you can come with me, I’ll show you which other sights you can see and how to get a feeling for the city and the people.
We’ll start on the Piazzale Michelangelo, the so-called balcony of Florence. When you come by car from Siena you pass it; if you arrive by train, take Bus 12 or 13 (it takes about 10 to 15 minutes). There’s a booth for bus tickets outside the station, a rare exception in Italy. Normally you buy your tickets in bars which have the white letter T’ on black ground outside (you also buy cigarettes and stamps there), you can’t buy tickets on the bus.
There’s one of the two copies of Michelangelo’s David on the Piazza, look at it so you don’t have to queue in front of the museum Galleria dell’Academia to see the original statue (which you can do, of course, if you like, it’s only a suggestion). You have the whole city in front of you, here you can get a feeling for its structure and for the enormous size of the Duomo (Cathedral).
Before we get down, let’s walk up the street for about 300 metres and visit the small church San Miniato al Monte, my favourite one! It was begun in 1018 and finished in 1207, has a wonderful green and white facade, the white stones are marble from Carrara.