We drove to Naples and caught the train to Florence from Praiano, along the Amalfi Coast. You can read about my time in Praiano here. The trip was about 2 hours long, not too bad. We bought tickets rather than get a Eurail Pass as we only planned on taking the train twice, from the airport to Rome, and from Naples to Florence. So the cost of the pass was more than the cost of the train tickets, which if I remember correctly, was around 17 Euro from the Airport to center city Rome, and around 80 Euro from Naples to Florence. Per person.
I was in Florence over 30 years ago and we just hung out at the Cathedral, or the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (https://www.ilgrandemuseodelduomo.it/monumenti/1-cattedrale) and didn’t really check out the art scene. This time around, I was primed to correct that deficiency in my art “education.” You can see my post here (https://davidcotephotography.com/learn-photography-by-studying-paintings/) where I discuss how one can improve on one’s photography by studying the paintings of the masters of the renaissance. So, both the Uffizi and the Academy were on my list of must see places in Florence!
Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
First, we need to discuss the Cathedral. It is a beautiful church with an edifice unlike any other church in Europe. Constructed of multicolored marble, it looks almost like a mosaic, of greens, whites and pinks, that just gives the church it’s unique look. And it is really difficult to get a great shot of the building as you have to first contend with the crowds which are never ending, even late at night or early morning!
And the fact that everything is crowded together, makes it very difficult to get a whole building shot. I found myself up against buildings and just couldn’t get the whole building into my shot. I forgot to pack my 16-35mm lens, so only had 24mm, which just wasn’t wide enough to capture the whole building. So I satisfied myself with shots of pieces of the building. When I return I will have my really wide angle because of the close spaces. You really need it if you want to capture the entire building.
On the aside: For those who love liturgical artwork, there is a little store run by some nuns (I forget the order) who sell stoles, chasubles and other liturgical wear. It is a great little shop called Apostolato Liturgico, and is located in Piazza Del Duomo, right beside the Cathedral on the left side (as you face the front of the Cathedral). My new stole is from there (I am also an ordained Lutheran pastor). So I’d recommend it highly if you are looking for something for your pastor or you have someone in the family who can use such items.
Ponte Vecchio Bridge
The second place to get a good shot of is the Ponte Vecchio bridge across the river Arno. The Via Lungarno Anna Maria de Medici, or the road along the river along the Uffizi side is perhaps the best spot to get a shot of the Ponte Vecchio bridge. The river bends slightly here allowing for you get a good shot of the whole bridge and the buildings along the side.
For those who might not know, the Ponte Vecchio bridge is a medieval bridge that dates back to 1345 and is lined with jewelry shops on both sides. Some of the shops are two stories, which gives the bridge a sense of being in a tunnel at times. It is a very unique bridge, and if you are able to catch a sunset (as it faces westerly) you can get really warm colors as shown in the photograph below.
The Uffizi and the Academy
The Uffizi and Academy, are the two major art museums located right by the Ponte Vecchio bridge area. I will just summarize my visits to these two museums as I will have a post that will go into more detail.
The Uffizi is the major art museum in Florence and is the home of priceless works of art. The majority of the collection was gifted by the Medici family and was part of their personal collection. This museum has a good blending of sculpture and paintings, so there will be something for every art lover.
The Academy is perhaps the second most important art museum in Florence, and it’s claim to fame is the Michelangelo’s statue “David.” Along with other important statuary, this is a great location to visit, but not as large as the Uffizi, and viewing the works of art will only take about an hour or so versus the several hours minimum to really do the Uffizi justice.
As far as photography is concerned, there are a lot of opportunities for unique shots around the city as well as artwork in the museums, which allow photography. I was delighted by the do not enter signs that were found around the center city with a variety of various cute symbols like spilled wine or Pete Townshend of the Who smashing his guitar.
Very cute and makes for some good shots!
I found that my 24-70mm was sufficient for the shots that I did capture, as well as my 70-200mm telephoto. The one lens I really missed having was the 16-35mm as I could not get the shots I knew I could get of the cathedral due to the confined spaces between the buildings. Although there are "plazas" around the cathedral, they are not a large as one would expect. It was nearly impossible for me to get both the cathedral and the bell tower in a single shot, and doing a panorama shot was prohibitive due to the number of tourists in the area. This is what one encounters when visiting at the height of tourist season. Oh well, better luck next time!