Uffizi Museum & The Great Synagogue

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Family at the Uffizi Museum
Family at the Uffizi Museum

I started my day early today, heading out before 8 am to try to get tickets to the Uffizi Museum. This was on Ilise’s must see list and when I tried to finally book tickets last night they were sold out for today. So, I figured I would stand in line to get tickets and then get the kids and Ilise and head back to the museum. After about 2 hours of waiting, the whole time talking with about 20 Italian high school students about Italy and America, I got toward the front of the line. I asked the guard if I was able to get tickets and use them later in the day. He told me, no way, the line was only for buying tickets and entering and everyone who wanted a ticket needed to be waiting in line.

The Holy Family Painting by Michaelangelo
The Holy Family Painting by Michaelangelo

So, I jumped on the phone and told Ilise to get her but, along with Drew and Noah, over to the museum ASAP because I was about to get in. It took another 30 minutes as I hung back in the line for them to arrive. They joined the line with me and within 10 minutes of arriving we were all in the museum. Noah was soooo excited (not!) to be there. In reality the museum was really cool, with amazing paintings and sculptures from some of the world’s most famous artists, including Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Bottacelli and many, many more. We spent over 2 1/2 hours in the museum and since everyone ran to get to the museum nobody ate breakfast.

Amazing view from inside the Uffizi
Amazing view from inside the Uffizi

As we exited the museum I realized we were right next to the sandwich shop that was rated #1 in all of Florence, so we got on line. They made these awesome sandwiches with focaccia bread, your choice of meat (salami, pork, turkey, prosciutto, etc.), with different spreads like mushroom truffle, eggplant and more, along with tomatoes, lettuce and cheese. We each got a sandwich and had a little feast. Even though I am not supposed to be eating bread or pasta, it’s hard to stay away from it in Italy. So, when in Rome …..

The Great Synagogue in Florence
The Great Synagogue in Florence

We left the museum and headed back to the apartment to get some schoolwork done, make some calls and then Ilise and I took a walk to the Great Synagogue. This is the only synagogue in Florence and it was spectacular. When we walked in I told Ilise that it was the most beautiful synagogue that I have ever seen. First of all, there was a magnificent dome in the center of the temple. I’ve never seen a temple with a dome. The wall paintings were magnificent and the feeling inside was extremely powerful. We spoke with a few of the staff that work there and the temple is supported by 900 members, of which only about 50 or so come to services each week. There is not a very large young Jewish community here, so it doesn’t seem like the temple will have many members joining in the near future.

Our new friend Lindsey with Drew and Noah in from of the Duomo
Our new friend Lindsey with Drew and Noah in from of the Duomo

It was so interesting to see a temple like that after seeing all the mosques in Istanbul. Outside of the temple were armed guards, who have been protecting the temple for 32 years! Overall, we only had about 30 minutes to tour the building but it was worth the time to go see it. We arrived around 4:30 and they closed at 5:00 and we had plans to meet someone at 5:30, so it was enough time to get a good sense of the building and walk to the top floor. It was a very special experience.

After the temple we met with Lindsey, an exchange student that we met on a mountain top in Santorini about a month ago with her boyfriend Kyle. They are both from San Diego and I continue to stay in touch with Kyle as he wants to become a professional speaker. I emailed him earlier in the week letting him know that I was in Florence and we connected with Lindsey. We had some gelato, imagine that, and sat on the steps of the Duomo sharing life stories. I’m sure we will see Lindsey and Kyle again when we return to San Diego. In the end, another full day in Italy and off to Venice tomorrow.

To a life well lived!

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