I have to share a few of the highlights from my recent photo explorations in Florence. Everyday here in Italy is so new, different and exciting, I wish I could share every moment! I spent today snowboarding in the Alps and I got to watch the tramonto, sunset, as I was riding down the slopes! But that is another post…
FLORENCE! The beautiful, magnificent, breath taking, inspirational wonder! I had a lot of time to spend walking around Florence because I didn’t take into consideration that most of the gardens and museums would be closed for the first two days of the year (one for the holiday and the other because it was the first Monday of the month, apparently a typical day to close a museum.) I was so fortunate that Riccardo my Couch Surfing host let me borrow his digital camera because I had the best time over indulging on my frame usage!! I spent hours walking around enjoying all too much the multiple piazza’s, churches and nature around town.
First stop, Piazza della Signoria. This Piazza is a really wonderful with lots of great art to look at! The Piazza is the focal point of the origin and of the history of the Florentine Republic and still maintains its reputation as the political hub of the city today. The Piazza is home to the Loggia dei Lanzi, the Palazzo Vecchio and is also the gateway to the Uffizi Gallery. There are many statues in the Piazza, these are just a few I really liked..
This controversial work of art is known as The Rape of the Sabine Women found in Loggia dei Lanzi
After loving the Piazza della Signoria I went to into Palazzo Vecchio – hands down the most impressive town hall ever! The Palazzo began construction in 1299 to serve as a fortress for the Florentine people. Although most of the Palazzo Vecchio is now a museum, it remains the symbol of local government: since 1872 it has housed the office of the mayor of Florence, and it is the seat of the City Council. The Palazzo has the most beautiful golden courtyard covered with intricate detailing and complete with a water spewing angel fountain. Upstairs is the Salone dei Cinquecento that was created to hold the 500 members of the Grand Council in 1494. Michaelangelo was enlisted to paint the interior but had some interesting technical difficulties and then was called by the Pope to paint the Sistine Chapel so the project was taken over by another artist. Now the Salone is a museum and I managed to go in an snap a photo before I had to leave for not having a ticket, opps!
First courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio. In contrary to it’s innocent beauty, the courtyard was actually a popular place to be murdered during the Renaissance. You can find numerous murder stories including people being chopped up and thrown to the crowd or hug or decapitated and left in the Palazzo courtyard for days “in the hot Tuscan sun…” just adding more of a background to all of the haunted stories about Florence.
I made my way to the Arno River after passing through the over-sized entrance to the Uffizi Gallery. The Arno runs right through Firenze so it is home to a lot of gorgeous bridges along its path. There is no competition for the one with the most character or charm though! The Ponte Vecchio is so quaint and full of history like everything else in Italy. During the second World War the Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge in Florence that wasn’t lost to German bombings, not at any great coincidence though. The story goes that Hitler specifically made the call not to destroy the bridge but instead opted to make it inaccessible by bombing a building at the entrance point. Some people say that it is because Hitler very much enjoyed visiting the Vasari Corridor, a kind of secret passage that runs along the top of the bridge boasting windows that I heard were created only after Hitler’s request years prior.
From a distance the bridge is super quaint, stacked with little multicolored used-to-be houses. With my gelato in hand I crossed the Ponte Vecchio as well as a dozen jewelery shops along the way, which can be a little cheesy during the day. At night though the stores pack up nice n tight and the closed storefronts along the bridge look like something strait out of the 1800’s.
Hungry after all my walking I stumbled upon a little restaurant that I remembered my Orlando friends Doug and Sara recommending called 5 e cinque so I had to stop in! It was the cutest little place with a vegetarian menu and organic everything (yay a piece of home!) I ordered their famous focaccia con formaggio that was a warm lightly salted slice of heaven then had a really nice conversation in broken Italian with the sweetest couple sitting next to me. They told me they spent the day walking around and exploring the city for hours, even though they lived in Florence all their lives, they still loved spending their free time in its presence. And that was it, that was all I needed.. so fully stuffed and emotionally and exploratively satisfied I headed home. Ready to do it all again tomorrow..