If Paris is for lovers, Florence is for walkers. My Fitbit says I walked 15,378 steps yesterday and 14,422 today. Walking is the best way to get around, but it can be treacherous. There are many traffic-free areas in the tourist areas north of the Arno, but some of the smaller, winding streets have very narrow (or no) sidewalks, and buses, cars, and the ubiquitous scooters come zipping around the corner at any time. Still, we’ve enjoyed walking these past two days, once the rain stopped. But, as much as we enjoy walking, Paul’s knees do not like steps, so we decided not to climb to the top of the Duomo’s dome for what we’ve heard is a spectacular view.
Our wanderings today took us to the Ponte Vecchio, a bridge that’s featured in every movie or novel set in Florence. It was bright and sunshiny today, so we had a good time strolling along and taking pictures.
We then made our way to the Uffizi Gallery where we let Rick Steves and his app guide us through what was supposed to be a two-hour tour but took us much longer. Again, having a guide, or in this case a recorded tour, was extremely helpful. It helped us notice things we would have missed and make the historical connection necessary to truly appreciate what we were seeing.
Then, for something completely different, we decided to check out the Galileo Museum. We downloaded their free app that has more information that anyone can possibly process while standing before showcases of old scientific instruments. We ran out of steam after the first floor, but it was a nice break from all the statues and paintings.
After a little rest, we took a bus to the Piazzale Michelangelo. This is where all the tour buses stop because there is a spectacular view of Florence and the Duomo. We took some pictures, but we were there primarily to visit the San Miniato Church and attend the Mass of the Gregorian Chants. This involved walking up a lot of steps, but it was worth it. The church is undergoing some major restoration so it was very noisy when we entered, but that stopped before the mass. The mass was sung throughout, and it was lovely and peaceful to listen to.
We decided to walk back (downhill is much easier) and it took us about a half an hour to get to our next destination, Teatro Verdi, where we had tickets for a concert by Orchestra Della Toscana. We had dinner in a restaurant across the street from the theater (quite convenient). The hall was smaller than I expected (and a little shabby) but we had good seats, right behind four young girls who entered carrying cushions to sit on (to see better). They seemed to thoroughly enjoy the concert and each other’s company and we appreciated seeing young people at a classical concert.
In the first half, the conductor also was the cello soloist in three pieces for cello and orchestra by Strauss, Glazunov, and Dvořák. He was excellent, but conducting while playing is a challenge, and he gave cues with his head and occasionally his bow. Fortunately, the concert master was also excellent and kept the strings together. After intermission, we heard Schumann’s Spring Symphony, No. 1. This is not the best orchestra I’ve ever heard, but they played with a lot of heart and obviously enjoy playing with this conductor.
After the concert, we took a taxi back to the hotel although my Fitbit would have been even happier if we had walked.