Published: August 30th 2009August 30th 2009
August 23, 2009 - Florence, Italy
￼We are in Florence today. Once you get off the bus you immediately enter Piazza del Duomo featuring the ornate renaissance church. It was overwhelmingly large, colorful and crowded with tourists from all over the world looking amazed by the ornate marble and gold buildings in front of them. It was Sunday so they are having mass at Il Duomo so we can’t go in. They say that the outside is much more impressive than the inside.
We went to the Baptistry, the Campanile and Bell Tower in the same piazza. It was built, or started, in 1296 and is an engineering marvel because of the dome structure itself.￼The Baptistry is one of the oldest buildings in Florence - 8th century. The Baptistry doors, which Michelangelo named The Gates of Paradise, tell biblical stories. The doors are intricately carved in gold with such detail. I am looking forward to reading more about each of the stories of the doors.
We then went to what seemed like a Tijuana flee market and searched through all of the tourist goodies. There was a lot of gorgeous leather but I can’t imagine it is ever cool
enough to where leather in this part of the world. I got a handmade scarf, which I am told I will need in New Zealand, and some very interesting aprons for Andrew and I to cook in.
We headed to see the famous Uffizi art museum and see how long the lines where to get in. The Uffizi is where Michelangelo’s David is housed along with other great pieces of Renaissance art. The line was at least a 2 hour wait in the hot sun so instead we sat in the shaded piazza outside of the museum and marveled at the incredible statues before. This area is called Palazzo Vecchio. The courtyard is massive with giant marble ￼statues of naked warriors, gods and mythological scenes. The detail is amazing! A copy of David is out here and he is gorgeous. There is a fountain of Neptune and a striking statue of Persus with Medusas head. You are surrounded by at least 40 huge naked marble men. This to me is an ultimate representation of the Renaissance. The start of the “me generation”. Art was not focused on the church, but on the artists individual interpretation and creativity. Some was
shocking, the nudity celebrated the body and the possibility of the individual. Beauty was the big theme and they did it in a very big way in Florence...and it is still alive and well today.
￼We crossed the Ponte Vecchio bridge which used to be the area for the local butchers. They would cut the meat and throw the scraps in the water which started to stink up the place. A rich banker and member of the Medici family didn’t care for the smells so they just moved the butchers out and moved the jewelers in, which still dominates the bridge today. Another symbol of the renaissance flurishing in Florence tday, commercialism, at its finest. The most interesting part of the bridge is the bust of the old mayor of Florence which is surrounded by an iron gate. The gate is covered in 100’s of locks with names on them. The story is, a guy will bring his significant other here and make a promise of love and commitment to her, lock it, and throw the key in the river. Maybe that’s why they invented the combination lock...always a way out. Fortunately we didn’t see any combination locks. Love conquers all.
We went to the Boboli Gardens at one of the Medici’s homes which also had a porcelain and silverware museum. This was difficult for Andrew as I can’t even to get him to look at dishes at Macy’s with me. I thought we would see some cute little spoons in the silverware museum but it ended up being jewelry and sculptures in silver. Bummer. The gardens where very dry and Andrew wanted to start watering and pulling weeds right away.
We had dinner at the campground restaurant pool side. It was good, but not cheap. We had an appetizer called Cococca with prosciutto. My chef's pallet tasted little cheese bread balls and smoked procsiutto with a heavy cream cheese sauce. So good. Andrew had grilled fish and I had Linguini with clam sauce. It was OK but they gave me a packet of parmesan cheese which I thought was appalling in Italy. Salt is also an issue - when asked for, it is hunted down like it is the only shaker in the town. One think I crave from home is ice, there in no ice in anything. Can you imagine it being 100 degrees and having no ice in your big gulp. That’s just wrong. The only ice I have had was in a drink they call Aporol which you mix with champagne or seven up or sparkling water and a couple of ice cubes. I really like the cocktail, it has a bitter lime taste and a bit of sweetness which is very refreshing after a long day of sweating. I will be turing this on to my sister-in-law Jane since she introduced me to vodka and diet Dr. Pepper. I know it sounds bad but it is very good!
At the pool, we met an English family from the lake district of England. A mother and her 2 teenage sons. Niki, the mother is a tour guide all over the world. She has taken folks from the UK to New Zealand many times. Her sons, James and Stephen are 17 and 16 but act like they are in their 40’s. They are so well spoken and mannered. They are studying classical music composition and had just visited Puchini’s villa. Very interesting to talk to and great people we hope to see during their travels in New Zealand some day.
Florence was beautiful and I hope to visit the Ufizzi gallery some day when there are not so many people. If you are ever going to Florence, you can reserve tickets for the Uffizi and the line in not as long - kind of like the DMV.