We visited the splendid Palazzo Vecchio on three occasions; once to climb the tower, second a guided tour and lastly the secret rooms tour. All are excellent, and the fact that we split up the visits makes you appriciate the attractions more. The tower is a must do, not helped by the fact it was 35 degrees, but the view from the top was worth the rather sweaty climb to the top, and as mentioned in a previous post it is far less crowded than the cupola on the Duomo. As a photographer a morning or evening visit would be special.
Our two hour guided tour was excellent, just the right amount of information, you never felt hurried and our english speaking guide was excellent. Highlights include The Hall of the Five Hundred and that ceiling by Vasari, Michelangelo's 'Genius of Victory', the chapel of Eleanor with the frescos by Bronzino (stunning), Apartments of the Elements, the Hall of the Geographical Maps and just when you thought it could not get any better you enter the Hall of Lillie's with Donatello's masterpiece 'Judith and Holofernes' All this in two hours - do it!
Our final visit was for the 'Secret Passages Tour' which takes you to the rooms not generally open to the public, and included the Studio of Francis 1, some of the private rooms of Eleonora of Toledo and to finish off you are taken to the roof space above Vasari's ceiling to see how he evenly distributed the staggering weight using massive wooden trusses, and all this was done five hundred years ago (with no Health & Safety!!) I am not an engineer but when explained it is simply breathtaking.
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