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Ahhhhh, Florence

 

You’d think we only had gray days in Tuscany when you look at these photos.  Well, mostly true.  That famous Tuscan sun has only peeked out from the clouds a couple of times.

Yesterday, our day in Florence, was especially gloomy.  The sky was heavy and leaden, hanging low over the medieval city.  Grim.  Even a few sprinkles.  This didn’t dampen our spirits though.  We zigged and zagged through the winding streets, enjoying the many attractions Florence has to offer.

Our shortlist of attractions included the Uffizi, the first public art museum in the world.  It is chock-o-block full of Medieval and Renaissance art.  It was interesting to learn about the difference between the two periods while looking at these amazing original and very old paintings.

I learned that Medieval art is flat, mostly religious and lacking in perspective.  As the artists move into the Renaissance period, they learn about showing distances, scale, including scenery and real people.  This is probably pretty simple, but hits the highlights.

I was most fascinated with the preoccupation and adolation with the pearl in Renaissance art. The Madona and wealthy women of the time were frequently depicted with pale faces, blond hair, and decorated with pearls.  The reason: the pearl symbolized purity and chasteness, the ideal for women of the time.

I loved the gorgeous ceiling in the Uffizi and the spectacular view of the bridges of Florence from the third floor gallery.  The tiny shops on the Ponte Vecchio, now housing gold merchants, were butcher shops until the mid 1500s.  Can you imagine the smell? Eewww.

After the Uffizi, we made our way through the crowded streets to the indoor market of Florence where the delicious displays of food were appealing. This was a good spot for a slice of pizza and a bit of nourishment while enjoying the wares of the butcher and baker.  I especially liked the charming young ladies who made sure we had a good lunch.

After lunch we were off to see the David.  I can see why tourists wait patiently in line for as long as two hours to see this magnificent 500 year old sculpture.  The size. The artistry.  The light.  It’s amazing.  Travel tip:  make a reservation ahead and you can skip the long lines.

When we viewed the David, we learned about the importance and significance of Florence in the world of art. According to one guide book, Florence produced more great works of art than any other city.

Our guide explained that one of the reasons is that the leaders of Florence were tolerant of diverse people with an artistic temperment.  She said that peopole who didn’t follow a traditional lifestyle were often  were cast out of the conservative city/states of the day.  In Florence, in spite of the role of religious, there was great appreciation of diversity.  That combined with the great wealth of famiies like the Medici’s who supported the creation of art made a huge difference in the artistic character of the city.

After that we popped into the Duomo.  Being rather tired, I almost skipped this but was glad I didn’t.  While only slightly larger than the huge catheral in Siena, it is very different.  Siena is ornate and striped in gray and white marble.  Dark.  The huge Catheral in Florence(fourth largest in world) is almost stark in contrast.  It features an absolutely stunning dome ceiling.

It took 120  years and thousands of worker to build.  Five different architects worked on this structure.

What was amusing was the announcement, repeated about every 15 mintues, in a Booming, yes Booming surround sound.  “SHHHHHH. Shhhhhhh.  SILENCE. PLEASE.” This message was repeated in several languages and  quieted the crowd of gawkers instantly.

Being a bit intimated ourselves with what sounded like the voice of God coming from the vast reaches of the dome, we stopped talking and tiptoed about.

After the Duomo viewing, Jack and I headed off to a very contemporary hotel on the Arno to meet up with long time friends who just “happened” to be in Florence on the same day.  We made our way thorugh the crowded streets, market stalls and folks with hands out for money.  I was a bit surprised with how crowded it was even though we are at the end of the typical tourist season.  Tours with guides leading the way,  lots of school groups, empty nest couples like us all crowded the narrow by-ways.

Clearly, there is no such thing as “Hidden Florence.” Too many people for anything to be undiscovered in this glorious city.     If there is, please write about it.  I am already planning my next visit to view the art and architecture I missed on this adventure.  And maybe a little of that Tuscan sun we have all heard about.

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.

Comments

7 Comments
  1. posted by
    Cindy Schad`
    Oct 15, 2010 Reply

    We have never been to Florence, but would love to explore it someday. We have been to the Tuscany region and a wonderful little gem of a town called, Rada:)

  2. posted by
    Kim Cornetet
    Oct 16, 2010 Reply

    Ahhhh Florence….one of my favorite places . So fun to see the bridge where the shops hang over the water. I remember it well. Always amazing how accessable the art is and so unprotected and it is everywhere! Loved the gelato on ever corner and David was breathtaking….the way the light hit the sculpture….wellworth the wait. Here in Sarasota we see his replica in the garden courtyard of the Ringling Art Museum often at night with the moon and stars above him and the water and gardens glistening behind in and the dancefloor in front of him at the most glitzy gala’s you can imagine. Enjoy your Italian visit! Eat something for me!

  3. posted by
    Peggy DePersia
    Oct 16, 2010 Reply

    Firenze the glorious!!!
    It was such a revelation to discover many years ago that cities in Europe had different names than the ones by which we knew them and, of course, Florence is no exception.
    When Jerry and I ‘camped’ in Fiesole in 1970 we viewed Florence from above; it was unforgettable and we extended our planned two day Florentine adventure to five days and enjoyed every hot and sweaty day of discovery in the summer sun. It was a very different experience in 1970 than just twenty years later when Florence had discovered the economic advantages of making a ‘faster’ food available for tourists. In ‘those days’ Jerry and I had the delightful experience of having a very long lunch with an elderly Florentine man who loved sharing stories with us about Italy and the Florentine disdain for Rome and Romans….a wonderful inside peak at a perspective we never would have suspected. I could go on and on………………..

  4. posted by
    smithsj
    Oct 25, 2010 Reply

    I wish I could have seen it before it was “discovered” by the tourists.

  5. posted by
    Tuscany is as much an idea as a place. | DesignDestinations
    Nov 6, 2010 Reply

    […] more  about Florence click here.  Ditto for […]

  6. posted by
    Carol Roth
    Jun 23, 2011 Reply

    Our favorite meal while in Italy was at the Trattoria i 4 Leoni located at  Piazza della Passera in Florence. What a wonderful city!

  7. posted by
    Susan
    Jun 23, 2011 Reply

    Thanks for the tip.   

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