Wednesday, 16 July 2014

It Seems We Can't Get Enough of Florence!

On our way back to Bologna from Cinque Terre, we experienced one more type of train service, the Intercity. Surprisingly, it was both more comfortable and made fewer stops than the Regionale. We had two changes, though, one in Pisa and another in Florence where we boarded the Frecciargento to Bologna. It sounds tedious, but it really wasn't too bad.  The connecting trains are relatively well timed, at least that has been our experience.  We imagine there are frustrations, though.  We experienced a 30 minute delay returning from Florence the next day, so luckily that didn't happen when we needed to make a connection. Oh, and we learned how to use the fast ticket machine to book our seats for the Frecce trains.  Hallelujah!  It's SO much easier.

For our second day in Florence we had two goals; to climb the tower and to visit Santa Maria della Croce. Charles also wanted to climb to the upper levels of Il Duomo, but the line went around the entire building.  Ridiculous! It would have been a two hour wait, if not more, to get in. The tower was only about 30 minutes, so we left it at that.  Got some great shots of the city from on high.

The tower in front of Il Duomo; Charles climbed to the second level; "Stop" for Jeanne at the first :)
Shot taken from the first level of the tower 
View from the opposite window
Il Duomo from the first level

Shot taken from the second level of the tower; such a beautiful city!

Santa Maria della Croce was also inaccessible to us due to the extremely long lineup to get in.  With so much beauty all around us, we simply aren't willing to wait for hours to add to what is already an incredible succession of fantastic experiences. Ultimately, it's about breathing in the essence of the city, and we feel we can do that very well without spending hours lining up for one or two more "must sees" during a busy tourist season. 

So instead we went shopping!  And bought each other gorgeous leather bags.  Also, we came across a fabulous wine bar, but more than a wine bar, called Obseqvivm, Latin for "gift".  Here we met a young Mexican woman who immigrated to Florence because she loves art and has a passion for wines.  She was lovely to speak to and her Italian was flawless, grammatically perfect and without any accent at all. 

Entrance to the wine bar, just off Via San Jacobo on the south side of the River Arno, a few blocks east of the Ponte Vecchio. In addition to great tuscan wines, one can also find here local honey, fruit preserves, antipasti, and pesto from the Ligurian Region where pesto was actually invented; it's also the Cinque Terre Region, so no wonder anything with pesto was so delicious there.

Great selection of wines, particularly from the Tuscan region

Brunello di Montalcino, compares to some the best wines we've ever tasted
Jeanne and I are contemplating why we are so fascinated by Firenze.  I, Charles, believe there is something extraordinary about Florence. And forgive me for venturing out on a limb here.  There is a unique blend of Christian and Hermetic influence, that defines Florence differently than other cities we've visited. Remember, it was the Medici family that strongly encouraged the practical application of Hermetic thought, believed to be descended from the Egyptians, in the writings of Giardano Bruno and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, two Renaissance humanists. Now, try to stifle a big yawn at this point and stay with me. Florence is the greatest physical manifestation of humanism of the Renaissance. That's my opinion. You can't see Florence without thinking of the rise of the Medici Bankers and without thinking of the central idea of Hermetic thought that all life is soul; that all soul is mind; that God exists around and through all things and that man through his reason can learn the secrets of the Divine-----not through a priest, or some other dude, but through reason.  This is why I LOVE FLORENCE!!!!!! And if you're not sure what I'm talking about, check out the TV series Da' Vinci's Daemons :)

As we made our way to the Ponte Vecchio after leaving Obseqvivm wine bar, we were reminded about the manager who immigrated to Florence from Mexico for the art... makes's everywhere, even on the streets. 

Young artist using pastel chalk colours to render a copy of the Mona Lisa on a street in Florence near the Ponte Vecchio. Isn't it marvellous?

Tomorrow is a "rest" day in Bologna, but that doesn't mean we'll be sitting around.  We have a few things we want to do in Bologna before heading out to Greve.  Really looking forward to this final leg of our journey.


  1. I'm not sure that is why I love Florence, but I absolutely love it as well.

    1. I hear you sister! When we get together, let's talk about why WE love Florence :)

    2. And thanks from Charles and me for posting and following. We really love to read the comments from everyone :)

  2. That was intense. I may need a wine bar now. Ha ha! Sounds like a visually and spiritually beautiful experience. The views of the city are amazing! Les is right, you are using that camera like a pro. Enjoy your train-free time in Tuscany!

    1. Charles has been pretty good about curbing his intellectual appetite. In his words, "he's been a good boy." Not too much intensity, just enjoying every day. It's been amazing. We both want to THANK you for recommending Villa Le Barone. It's been amazing. Will post on this part of our travels soon.