Traveling Florence, Italy
The Statue of David
The main tourist attraction in Florence, Italy, is Michelangelo's Statue of David. This magnificent work of art is located in the Academia Galleria near the center of the city.
I spent over 4 hours waiting in line to see the Statue of David.
This is what will happen if you do not buy tickets in advance. My recommendation is to go to the ticket booth across the street from the Academia Galleria the day before you want to see the statue. You will have to purchase a ticket for a certain time slot. Make sure you are at the museum at least 10 minutes before your allocated time. You will have to wait in line for about 20-30 minutes, but that is much better than waiting in line half the day without a ticket.
I actually liked the way that the museum controlled entry. Yes, it was miserable waiting in line for so long, but it was really awesome that you could enjoy the sights without being overcrowded. There were many other attractions in Europe in which entry was not controlled, so you ended up swimming in crowds of people. This made it really difficult to enjoy the art work. The Academia Galleria did an excellent job of mitigating this, so I was able to relax and take in the magnificence of the artwork on display.
I highly recommend a visit to this museum to see the statue. It is one of the most well-known works of art in existence, and for good reason. I thought the statue was life-sized, but it is actually about 3 times the size of an average man. The detail is amazing. You can truly recognize how much of an artistic genius Michelangelo was when viewing this amazing piece of work.
Florence has an excellent network of buses that will take you all around the city. However, as a tourist, I could never really figure out how to pay the bus fare. The driver didn't ask me when I got on the bus, and the only machine I saw only took tickets, it wouldn't create tickets. There were signs all over the bus about the "ticket inspector", scaring passengers about a hefty fine if they were caught without tickets. I rode the bus a few times, and was never approached by a ticket inspector. I guess I got lucky.
However, I realized the next day that Florence is a pretty small city. I was able to get pretty much everywhere I wanted to go on foot, far more quickly than the bus could take me. I realized that the bus takes so long because it takes you all the way down one street, then goes up a block and comes all the way back. It is a fun ride, but walking is much easier. I also find that I am less likely to get lost if I am on foot.
Florence is a beautiful city. The architecture and city layout are exactly how you would imagine an old-school Italian city to be. The street are very narrow, often made with brick or cobblestone. The sidewalk is even narrower, with hardly enough room for one person to walk.
There are people who hang out on the streets, selling their wares. There are people who lay paintings down in the middle of the road, then get mad at you for accidentally stepping on them (I learned this from personal experience, watch where you are walking!). There was a man outside playing the accordion. It was a beautiful, rustic city. I think that anyone who is planning a trip to Italy should make a pit-stop to this wonderful Tuscan city.
Florence is also home to many amazing churches. The Santa Maria is one of the most beautiful structures I have ever seen. I did not even go inside the church, but the outside was just magnificent. The Basillica de San Lorenzo is the largest church in Florence, and said to be one of the oldest (however many of the churches make this claim). The architecture of this church really makes it stand out to travelers.