Friday, 11 July 2014

Our Time in Florence

Next to Venice, Florence, Firenze to the Italians, is one of the most talked-about cities in Italy. It's difficult to say anything new about such a popular and well known city, so we'll just give an account of our experience there.  Firstly, it almost took the same amount of time to walk to the train station as it did to complete our train ride from Bologna to Florence. This meant we had more time to spend there than we did in Venice.  There were also later trains to get us back which was not the case for direct evening trips from Venice back to Bologna. So, as convenient as train travel is, it's also true that it does not provide the same freedom as a car.

Of course we visited Santa Maria del Fiore, known to most of us as Il Duomo, and as expected, it was spectacular.  I know I may have said this earlier, but it bears repeating.  How men in the past conceived of such magnificent structures is difficult to understand!  As with many of the churches built in the 13th to 15 centuries, upon entry, one is immediately struck by a sense of majesty.  The archways that make up the central nave draw the eye upward and then forward to the altar where the cupola lies almost hidden until the observer gets closer.  One surprising and unexpected element was the less ornate decor of the church.  It did have a number of stunning and important works, but was almost austere by comparison to other churches we've seen in Rome, Venice and the towns along the Amalfi.

Central nave of Santa Maria del Fiore
Copula meets the eye as the observer approaches the front of the church
Another highlight was the Uffizi Gallery, another stunning display of art and culture.  Below are some of our favourite works of art that we discovered on our self directed tour. Charles and I were constantly moved by the detail and the realism of the art. We wonder if the technical skills to produce such works is still among us today. Do we still have artisans that can work with marble in the ways that the greats of the past did, for example? If this is a lost art, it would be sad indeed, for it is obviously something that still interests young and old, at least judging by the visitors who were in attendance the same day we were.
Hercules and Nessus
Not sure what this was, but we loved the depiction of movement in these pieces
After a good two hours of wandering the halls and rooms of this incredible collection, we felt exhausted, yet edified (Charles' word) by our tour.

Of course a day in Florence wouldn't be complete without a walk along the Ponte Vecchio.

We strike a pose on Ponte Vecchio, Firenze 

And the day would also not be complete without getting lost finding a Rick Stveves recommended meal in an authentic Florentine restaurant.  In Florence we had two!  Lunch was at Trattoria Anita on a tiny street not far from the centre of the old town. We both had amazing pasta for primi and then as the waiters here say, "stop" for me.  Charles went for secondi that consisted of a bollito of meats that included beef tongue...yah...

Finally, dinner was completely off the wall.  We took a cab (enough of getting lost in Florence) to a place called Trattoria da Tito on Via San Gallo.  Here, as we waited for the restaurant to open we found an excellent little bar that served a great espresso for only one Euro, best price we've paid since we got to Italy.  Tip of the day...that's what happens when you move away from the touristy centre!
Food at da Tito was fabulous, I had an asparagus risotto and Charles an excellent steak. Although the  the atmosphere was a little strange we're glad we went.  Why strange?  Well, for one, very casual staff, also we enjoyed the music from the 80's at first and had assumed that the sign "warning, loud music may occur in this place" was a joke, but as the evening progressed and it got louder and louder, we realized it really was a warning.


  1. Ah yes! The Uffizi Gallery -- otherwise known as the gallery of penises. How's that for edified? Funny you mentioned the 80's music. We also were entertained by an 80's singer while having dinner one night at our hotel. A highlight for sure! I'm surprised Rick Stveves did not recommend a trip to the pizzeria where the cast of jersey shore worked a few summers ago. Snooki's bra is hanging up on display. Try to be a little more cultured on your trip.

    1. Ha ha ha ha. Too funny! True about the penises, though. I did comment on that at one point and wondered why it is that it went that way instead of the other...

  2. I loved your photos of the stairs with the accompanying text. To think that thousands of feet have climbed these stairs - some repeatedly - is amazing. Stairs also make for wonderful photos. What's at the tip? Around the corner? Thanks. Like Alaina, I thought Florence was the city of penises - but SMALL penises. Poor David really didn't have a lot. The musculature and the idea that these people have been caught and created in action is so amazing. I loved how real, muscled and sinewed they were. Did you rub the pig's snout (never mind, Charles) - for luck? This traveling vicariously is lovely! Enjoy some relaxation in Cinque

  3. Terre. This site gives me frequent stresses but it's a great way to keep up with your travels.

    1. And I'm laughing out loud again, once after reading Elaina's comment and now yours. Thought you would appreciate the stairs shots and glad to see you also liked the sculpture photos. No to the pig's snout, but we are going back to Florence next week for a day. I'll look for the pig. Blogger takes a bit of getting used to, but perhaps I should have gone to another platform. Hopefully it gets better. If WIFI cuts out, it's a dog, so I copy and save all the time, just in case, although it saves drafts automatically for me, which has saved my butt a few times.

  4. According to many ancient scholars David was a grower not a shower.

  5. Well, Elaina, I would bow to your wisdom in these matters ...