27 February 2012

Amici degli Uffizi / Friends of the Uffizi Firenze, Italia / Florence, Italy

Amici degli Uffizi is a membership to the state museums of Florence.  The money raised for the membership is used to restore and maintain the artwork.  For a single person, the membership cost is 60 euro; for a family of up to four, the cost is 100 euro; and for a student under the age of 26, the cost is 40 euro for a calendar year membership. At an average museum entrance fee of 10 to 15 euros, it takes only a handful of visits to the museum before your Friends of the Uffizi membership pays for itself. If you live in Florence or nearby, you will definitely get your money's worth.  If you plan to be on vacation for longer than even a few days in Florence -- well, you do the math. 

Your membership buys you unlimited entrance to the state museums in Florence:

  • Uffizi Gallery
  • Accademia Gallery
  • The Pitti Palace (several different museums within the Pitti with individual admissions)
  • Bargello Museum (one of my favorite museums)
  • Museum of  the Medici Chapels
  • Museum of Palazzo Davanzati
  • Museum of San Marco
  • Garden of the Medici Villa of Costello
  • Medici Villa of Petraia
  • Medici Villa of Poggio a Caiano
  • Medici Villa of Cerreto Guidi & Historical Hunting and Territorial Museum
  • Cenacoli of Ognisanti, Andrea del Sarto, Fuligno, and Sant'Apollonia
  • Cloister of the Scalzo
  • Church and museum of Orsanmichele
  • Boboli Gardens
  • Bardini Gardens
Only at two museums in Florence does everyone who knows advise paying the additional 4,50 euro reservation fee for a designated entrance time, which saves you from waiting in line a few hours. With your membership, you walk to the appropriate door and get your ticket and enter when you want, no reservation necessary.  

Go to the Friends of the Uffizi office at the Uffizi Museum or go to the website to buy your membership.

Two wonderful gardens in Florence are included in the membership:  Boboli and Bardini.  Both are literally in my backyard, only a few steps from my home.  Oh, and up that steep hill behind my house. I can enter either of the two gardens.  Great news for me, as I spend too many hours in front of my computer, and yet I crave sunlight, greenery, and the outdoors.

I share with you the info, but please don't take my bench.
My seat to enjoy the surrounding beauty, especially as the days get warmer and longer.

The Grotto, Boboli Gardens

No surprise, perhaps, that I bought for myself an amazing gift at the turn of the new year.  Now, with membership card in hand, I can pop into a museum to see a particular painting, room, or exhibit as I fancy.  Or visit the two gardens.  I can return again and again to my heart's content.  And I will.  Look for me sitting on the bench pictured above.

17 February 2012

How Even an Ordinary Day in Florence, Italy, Can Be a Special Day

Today has been one of those totally spontaneous days.  I finished all my deposition-related work at 1:30 a.m. last night. Then early today, Mabel and I went out for our usual morning walk.  We returned home at 4 p.m.  The sun is out. Temperatures are now in the low 50s; cold, but the recent bitter cold has passed.  Another day or two purportedly will begin the rainy season.  When we left the house for our walk, I had no intention to be gone all day.  

The warmth of the sun, the physical and mental exhaustion from a recent heavy workload now complete, the freedom of not having to be anywhere at any particular time, the movement of the body, the feeling of almost spring in the air, Mabel and I just kept going where our feet led us Forrest Gump-style. On our way, we bumped into one person after another -- some friends and acquaintances and others complete strangers -- and engaged in conversations and laughs with all we encountered.  We enjoyed lunch, Lebanese food, with one of my friends.

Late afternoon we returned home, and I had a wonderful feeling of satisfaction, joy, and peace.  Mabel too.  She looks so content on her bed right now.  After a short time to recover from the bliss, I headed out with another friend to participate in an evening of Bhajan and Kirtan, a kind of devotional music, chanting and mantra in Sanskrit, and meditation.  Mabel stayed behind, content and sleepy.

Such simple pleasures.  Really, just an ordinary day.  I had no expectations, no demands, no worries, and therefore, I was able to just absorb and appreciate how lovely and special something so simple can be.  My brother believes "simple" also can mean "elegant."  Now I understand what he means.

I have no pictures to share of this glorious day because I was so unencumbered that I did not carry my camera, not even my purse.  Good thing my friend bought lunch!

09 February 2012

Love is in the Air (Chocolate Festival, Florence, Italy, 2012) ...

... that is, if you love chocolate and/or you have a Valentine. 

It is that time of year again, when the wonderful chocolate festival returns to Florence, Italy, in time for Santo Valentino.  I don't have my own Valentine, but, please, do not allow that to stop you from showering me with delicious chocolate from all the regions of Italy.

Please note, however, that beginning tomorrow (Friday, 10 February 2012 through Sunday, 19 February 2012), you can get your chocolate fix at Piazza Repubblica instead of Santa Croce.

05 February 2012

Brrrr... A Deep Freeze Bites into Europe

By now you have heard the news that extreme winter weather has hit Europe especially hard the past few days.  I want to show you just how cold it is, but just how best to do that?  You likely have already seen the many pictures in your morning newspaper or television, but they keep showing the same thing, snow.  Snow conveys only the half of it.

Mabel had on a coat over her natural fur coat, and I was bundled up pretty well myself. Armed with my trusty camera, we braved the bitter cold, taking our final evening stroll on our way home from dinner with a friend.  It was that happy but freezing cold moment that we reached Piazza Santo Spirito and I saw its fountain. 

Imagine how cold it must be to flash freeze moving water! The photo puts into perspective just how cold it is here in Florence, Italy.

Of course, the north is used to extreme weather incidents. But the Mediterranean countries, aren't they accustomed to basking in sunshine year round?  For a Southern California girl, a high of 0 and a windchill factor of minus 15 (below 0) makes one want to run for cover, a big cup of hot chocolate in hand, and some serious cuddling!