Florence, Italy

celebrating the art of living well

The morning felt a bit like the movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray. It had been 10 straight days of sight seeing with 5 to 6 hours of sleep a night. Which I do not recommend. However, there was such beautiful scenery and experiences, it made it all worth it. We packed up and headed out of Venice by way of the water taxi. I have fine memories of Richard singing “Ciao Venezia, Ciao Venezia, ciao, ciao, ciao…” on the way out of this classic city.

When we arrived in Florence, we went on a Renaissance walk with our local guide, learning how Florence is the capital of Tuscany and the birthplace of the Renaissance. We went past the palace of the Medici, which looked more like a fortress. Overshadowing the heart of Florence is the Duomo, the cathedral of Florence. We went past the Duomo and saw the bronze baptistery doors. Having studied these in Art History, I know these are copies of the original.

We made our way to the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. With our group entry time, we cut straight through the crowds, through the metal detectors and into the museum. Stephanie gave a talk about the statue, and how they built this place just for this magnificent work of art.

Later that evening, we enjoyed a Tuscan feast with the group. We enjoyed the wine of the region, Chianti. It started with gnocchi with a cheesy spinach and penne, and then Tagliata with cheese and arugula, and potatoes. We had some pick-me-up cake after supper, Tiramisu, and limencello. Yes, you eat well on this trip.

Duomo Museum

This was our first time to truly sleep in. I made it until 7 am and Dad thought it was time to get up. Sigh, okay dad. I wanted dad to have some down time today from all the running around, so I asked what we should do with our free morning. Dad said we should go to see the Duomo museum. So off we went.

The treasure of the Duomo museum is the original “Gates or Paradise” by Lorenzo Ghiberti. These bronze panels were part of the gates of the Baptistery of San Giovanni. They depict 10 scenes from the old testament. These are the earliest works of Renaissance relief sculpture.

Three sets of baptistery doors
The gates of Paradise, Lorenzo Ghiberti, 1425–52
The Deposition, Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1547–55
Model of the Dome of the Florence Cathedral (Duomo) by Filippo Brunelleschi

The Baptistrey & champanile

After the museum, we checked out St. Giovanni (St. John) Baptistery, likely due to being a Dan Brown fan. The Baptistery is in the shape of an octagon and the ceiling is a golden mosaic.

I wanted to climb the bell tower next to the Duomo. My Dad was not hot on the idea. Dad hung out in the baptistery for a bit while I went up the champanile. I could not believe how small the staircase was to get up the tower. It was a tight squeeze for two people across. There were four levels where you could get out and take in the view. It was well worth the effort as it was a beautiful day.

Ceiling of St. John’s
The Bell Tower

Uffizi Gallery tour

I met dad and hour later, and we went for pizza. The pizza in Venice was better than the place we picked. However, the strawberry dessert was pretty amazing. We hit the San Lorenzo market to pickup souvenirs, but quickly it was time for the Uffizi tour. We met the group and walked to the museum. We saw the speakers square (the Loggia). We met our local guide, Cindy, in the museum. We saw lots of Renaissance master works, including the magnificent Botticellis. What a treat to see many of the works I studied at Millikin University in my Art History class. The museum was warm and the tour seemed to go on and on.

Perseus with the Head of Medusa

One of the many statues in the Loggia dei Lanzi outside of the Uffizi Gallery.

The Birth of Venus
The Allegory of Spring
Madonna with Child and two Angels
Doni Tondo (Holy Family)
Madonna of the Goldfinch
Gaddi Torso & Hellenistic statues
Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea del Verrocchio, & Andrea Solari, 1472
The Baptism of Christ & Adoration of the Magi
Leonardo da Vinci, 1475 & 1481

I was so happy to see those beautiful pieces of art in person. I wanted to see so many more things in Florence. Walking the Ponte Vecchio, the Pitti Palace, the Plaza de Michelangelo, or Boboli Gardens. I was reminded that this trip is “a taste of Europe.” So we went shopping as time was running out. We found a chocolate Gelateria and had some fine gelato. Bought some chocolate, scarves, leather gloves, charms and went in search of a Christmas shop. No luck there. We found an Irish pub and thought it was time for a pint. That first Guinness was a treat. We went back to the hotel for the evening, but I was itching to wander and check out the night life. And so I did.

Street artist

He has a special permit to make these drawings. According to law, they have to be washed away every evening.

Il Porcellino (piglet) by Pietro Tacca

Visitors rub his snout to ensure a return trip to Florence.

Piazza di Santa Maria Novella

One of the few times I didn't have my SLR with me. The blue hour was stunning in Tuscany.

Our adventures in Italy continue where all roads meet in: