Sunday, December 04, 2011

A day in Florence

The monumental fresco of the Last Judgement begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1592 and completed by Federico Zuccaro and
others. We were able to get a close up view from the balcony that encircles it. This is painted on the insde of
 Brunelleschi's brilliantly engineered dome, the largest masonry dome in the world.
First of all, a day in Florence is definitely not enough. Scott and I have been before, in my case many times, and it's worth weeks or months etc. But a day was all we had and Walt and Honoree hadn't been there before. So we got an early start and parked in a parking garage near a market on the edge of town. Our method is to take pictures of the street names and try to locate it on the map, if we have one. It can be hard to find your way back.
Scott and I pose at the top

Giotto's Campanile seen from the roof of
the Duomo.

You can get a good sense of the steep narrow stairs looking
down at Honoree descending.

Another view further down with lots of graffiti  visable

The view upwards from the balcony shows the perspective necessary to
view from below.

The exterior is covered with marble in various
shades of green and pink bordered by white.

The facade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo)

Piazza della Signoria with the Palazzo
Vecchio in the distance

 The Baptistery completes Piazza del Duomo

Fountain of Neptune by Bartolomeo
Ammannati in 1565

The San Lorenzo Market - a colorful open air  market in a
beautiful cathedral like building, built of glass and steel
in 1874.

Like Lucca, leather goods are famous here.

Everyone wears scarfs in Europe. I bought four of them in
various locations and have vowed to keep wearing them
even after returning home.

The Fontana del Porcellino - You put a coin in the boar's
 mouth and let go, If it falls intothe grate below on it's
 own, it's good luck.

The first courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio, the Town Hall

The combination of the fall colors and the still River Arno is spectacular. That's the Ponte Vecchio built on the location
of the Roman bridge, destroyed twice and last rebuilt in 1345. It was the only bridge left in place when the Germans retreated during WWII.
We made advance reservations for both the Accademia Museum and the Uffizi by telephone - a definite must. It saved us from waits in very long lines. We also bought priority tickets to walk up to the top of the Duomo (the extra money to enter the church wasn't worth it as there were no lines when we were there). This was really fun, although not for the out of shape or claustrophobic. The staircases are very narrow dark and in some cases two way. The view from the balcony around the inside painted dome is fantastic as is the one outside on the top.
Michelangelo's David is reason enough to visit the Accademia Museum although the Bottacelli Madonna and Child and Madonna and the Sea cap off the experience.
The Uffizi really requires much more than the two hours we gave it. But honestly I prefer to go many times to a musuem rather than try to spend more time than that. The building itself was designed as a municipal office building in 1560 and later became the repository for the Medici family art collection. The list of treasures here is immense but my favorites are Bottacelli's Primavera, Rembrandt's Self Portrait as a Young Man and Da Vinci's Annunciation.
We couldn't get enough of the views along the Arno river and the Ponte Vecchio. The water was so still the reflections were perfect. Two women rowed by in their shell making complex patterns in the water behind them.
We just snacked during the day so no recommendations on where to eat, although getting away from the Duomo and museums is a good idea. Restaurants far away from the tourist area are always a better value.
The shops on the bridge were once butchers but now

One of the corridors in the Uffizi 

I had to take these pictures surreptitiously.

We saw scullers and rowers frequently on our trip.

Basilica of Santa Croce, burial place of Michelangelo,
Galileo, Machiavelli and Rossini, among others.

A riveting statue of Dante in the Piazza di
Sante Croce looking bitter at being
exiled from Florence.  

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