Plan: We will be going on a day trip by train to Florence. We will see Galileo's finger at the Science Museum, check out Michelangelo's David at the Accademia, and more cool art at the Uffizi Gallery and possibly Bargello.
What actually happened (per Christine): We got up and took a taxi to the train station in Siena. Orlando had recommended that we take the bus to Firenze (Florence), so that we wouldn't have to pay for another taxi to the train station, but bus tickets were 8 Euros each (one way) and the taxi was only 7 Euros to the train station and we had already paid for our Eurail passes. so the train was free (or at least, already paid for). Maybe we should have taken the bus, because the train was almost an hour late, so we didn't get to Florence until 11am,
Firenze was a far cry from Siena. While Siena had an intimate, small city feel, Firenze felt rushed and crazy with lots and lots of tourists and lots of hawkers selling the "bling bling." Mike became the navigator (with the aid of my compass which he said I was foolish to bring! :-) and we soon found the Science Museum, which was going to close at 1pm. The science museum had lots of really cool items in it; I just wish it had more descriptions of each piece and how it worked (although we probably could have been there all day if they had that!). We saw all sorts of early navigational tools and surveying equipment. We saw this really cool sundial alarm clock: when the sun would reach the noon position, it would shine through a magnifying glass and ignite a miniature canon underneath so that it would go off. What a clever idea! We saw some of the first "calculators" from the early 1600s, clocks, telescopes, microscopes, globes, magnetic, electrical and hydraulic equipment, old scales and balances, old apothecary bottles, old surgical tools, chemistry sets, scales, and, of course, Galileo's finger! Technically, there were no pictures allowed, but Mike snuck a picture of the finger! It wasn't a whole finger, but a skeleton finger in a jar - cool! We were very sad that the museum didn't have a gift shop (that's got to be a first for Europe!!), so we weren't able to get postcards of the cool stuff we saw.
After the Science Museum, we headed up to the Accademia for our 2:45pm reservation to see David. We were not able to get tickets to the Uffizi Gallery; when I called, they said it was booked for the entire month. We stopped at a little cafe on the way to the Accademia and had pizze (again! - we're really getting sick of it!) It wasn't that great, but it was quick (only 1 hour)
The Accademia is very small compared to most of the other museums we went to. It just had a few rooms of Renaissance art, then the big gallery with Michelangelo's unfinished "Prisoners" sculptures and "David," with some other paintings nearby, then a few more rooms of medieval art. David was huge! I always thought from the pictures I have seen that the sculpture would be approximately human-sized (or at least only a little bigger), but it is really, really tall. What was really interesting in the big David gallery was a series of five modern art pieces called "Forms for the David" that were put up for David's 500th birthday. I didn't like/get 2 of the pieces, one was a big, blocky foot and the other was a maze with a bin of coal. But I really, really liked the other three. The first one I noticed was three giant photographs of tourists looking at David. It was really clever. The artist had written that he was looking at the people who came to see David both as mass tourists and as unique individuals. The second one had a painting high up on the wall of the naked artist (an older man), superimposed over a Renaissance painting. His image was also carved into a marble pillar on the floor, which had been rolled over a pile of marble dust on the floor (like a rolling pin), so that the image appeared in the sand. It was really funny to see this modern guy amidst all this classical art. And it really made you realize how idealized and not life-like the David is. The third modern art piece was a set of movies called "The Birthday Boy." Two movies played simultaneously. Each movie was of a lecturer giving a philosophical speech about David. Luckily, the speakers were speaking in Italian, with English subtitles, so we could read and not be disturbed by the other one. They were quite long, so we only watched one in its entirety. The one we saw was this guy who was talking about David as the symbol of white male supremacy and awe as power. They lecturer was chugging wine as he talked (a disembodied hand kept refilling his glass) and he speech kept getting more and more wild, finally culminating in the David changing behind him to a black woman. We watched part of the other other video and the woman lecturer was talking about how David is the symbol of eternal youth, but he is falling into disrepair and our restoration of him is an attempt to idolize youth. That video ended with the David turning into an old man They were really fun.
After we finished with the Accademia, we went to go to the Duomo (big domed cathedral), but they were closed already. We called the Cinque Terre to try to reserve a room for the next day and got a room on the second try! So we headed back to the train station through many many aisles of street vendors (it was almost like Tijuana, Mexico.)
Once we got back to Siena, we went to an Internet cafe to try to upload the latest update, but it didn't work properly. So, we got more gellato and wandered around Il Campo for our last night in Siena.