Florence, stepping in an old master’s painting
Tuesday night we arrived in Florence and on our way to our hosts it felt rather surreal. Statues a every corner, squares, old buildings, churches everywhere.
As if that was not enough, our host’s place was right between Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi museum. His flat was like an old palace, with old furniture, a huge glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling, paintings and framed mirrors in the living room. What a sight!
On Wednesday morning our first stop was of course the ponte Vecchio. It joins both sides of the river with 2 rows of shops. It is always swarming with tourists of course but at night, when the shops are closed with wooden shutters it looks out of another time.
Piazza della Signoria
On our way to the tourist office to get a map, we saw a copy of Michelangelo’s David around a corner. Even though it was way too white and unprotected to be the real one, it was still pretty impressive in all it’s grandeur. It stove in front of Palazzo Vecchio with another statue. On one side of the square laid a covered area with a bunch of statues inside. Reading the descriptions you start realizing how old everything in that city is and it made me more anxious to get to Rome.
After getting a map, we headed to the Academia, a museum that holds mostly medieval religious paintings. It holds that, an exposition on musical instruments (we saw a copper bowl filled with water that when rubbed with wet hands made a vibrating sound) and of course the David. It lays at the end of a corridor and unfinished sculptures by Michelangelo frame the way. It was particularly interesting to see the scissors marks in the marble and it was very representative of the “freeing the form from the rock” method of the master.
Once we got our share of medieval paintings and bought a mini David of good quality for my friend, we headed back to the Duomo which we had passed quickly on our way to the tourist office. The cathedral was very different from any other church I’ve seen especially because of the green geometrical lines on it’s walls. The ceiling of the nave was adorned with a majestic fresco.
After eating a pastry at a café in front of the duomo (prices are really not that bad if you don’t sit down!) we went walking through the streets and looking at various markets. We stopped at the old market with the pig statue and my sister also bought herself an Italian leather jacket.
We crossed the river next and not seeing much at all because the sun was in our eyes we walked to the Piazza Pitti in front of the Palazzo. I wished I could go see the gardens but we wanted to see a panorama of the city from the Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset and then the other 2 days it was raining very hard. On my next visit maybe!
What we realized very soon is that the sun sets later in Firenze than it sets in Venezia. So even though I hiked the way up the hill to Piazzale Michelangelo we didn’t get a sunset view of the city. It was still breathtaking and the mountains encircling the city were very impressive. Did I ever say I loved the cities that had a river running down the middle?
At night we went for a café with our host Omid and he brought us to a very nice place that served as a café, bookstore, library and dance class. The hot chocolate was delicious and very thick and we spent a few hours discussing a bunch of stuff with Omid. It was very interesting and we realized Americans are rather colder than Europeans. But then of course, it depends on the person.
The next day we work up early to do some laundry and then go to Pise which is quite close to Firenze. We were told by numerous people that it was not worth spending too much time in and that the only interesting thing was the square with the tower. We might have wanted to explore a bit more but it was pouring rain and we were quickly soaked. We did do a tour of the cathedral right in front of the tower and took quick pictures under the pouring rain of the square but then we hurried back to the train station.
After drying ourselves and spending a nice evening watching Gleepisodes our host took us to a dinner at some of his friends house. The girls, Miriam and Marie Pauline were very nice and although we didn’t all have a common language we spoke we got along with some english, some french, some german and some Italian. It turns out Italian is quite easy to understand for us but the speaking part is way harder! A few glasses of red wine and some pasta later, we had exchanged a bunch of stories and were sad to split.
Friday morning was a late morning. The train being only at 4 we still had time to visit the Uffizi, the main museum of Florence. We walked through its halls looking at old sculptures and paintings and spent over 2 and a half hours in there. Amongst other highlights were Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and “Spring”, Da Vinci’s “Annunciation” and Caravaggio’s “Medusa”.
We then packed our bags and headed for the train station. The next stop is Rome! And it’s grand history.