Friday, June 22, 2012

My Last Day in Florence

I am writing this blog on the train to Venice, as I try to catch up on my blogs. I will post this one first and then the one for the day prior when I toured Tuscany. As always, the posting date represents the actual travel date.

I spent my 4th day in Florence wandering about going to see things I really didn't want to miss. Of course there wasn't enough time to see everything and so I am determined to go back to Florence again at some point. I really enjoyed my stay here.

My first stop was Mercato Centrale. It is very much like Toronto's St. Lawrence Market, except the shops inside concentrate just as much on the visual appeal of the displays in their stores as the quality of the produce. Outside the Mercato building there were stalls of street vendors selling leather goods. There was a wonderful smell of leather as I wandered toward the building.

There were a lot of meat products I didn't recognize. I understand that the Italians use many parts of the cow that we wouldn't use, except maybe ground up for hot dogs.

I guessed what the item in the upper right was, but the others? I will leave that to your imagination.

I was surprised to see the price of our Canadian Cheddar.

I quite enjoyed the time spent in the area of the Medici Chapels and the Church of San Lorenzo. Sadly, there were no photos allowed. The artistic skill and genius of Michaelangelo was evident in the beauty of the chapel which is one of the greatest "Michaelangelo sights" in Florence, the New Sacrisity, which honors the 4 Medici patriarchs. The Medici family were his patrons and friends. It was was completely designed and the statues carved by Michaelangelo over a 14 year period.

My favourites, the statues of Dusk and Dawn and Day and Night, are 4 reclining statues which stand on either side of two of the tombs. They are so well done and his work really does stand well above others by his contemporaries. It is hard to imagine that, unlike other sculptors of his day, he didn't do the work in plaster first, he just went to work on a big slab of marble and "liberated the statue inside". I was unaware that Michaelangelo left so many partially finished works - it seems he had trouble finishing things. I am learning lots about this master as I read Irving Stone's biographical fiction "The Agony and the Ecstasy".

When I trucked on over to the Basilica of Santa Croce I found that a small "sports stadium" had been set up in the square. Apparently, they were having some sort of local soccer event here.

The Basilica of Santa Croce.

I went through quite a few museums and churches and to tell the truth, after a while you kind of go on visual overload. It was nice to take the 30 minute walk to the Piazzale Michelangelo, which sits high on a hill and up several hundred steps. The view from the top was wonderful, right out of a Florintine painting.

At top and centre of the Piazzio Michelangeo was, guess what? Another copy of his statue David - much bigger than the real one. The real one is in the Accademia, but Florence has 3 copies as well. I am told that you can tell the difference, but I would think that you would need to study them longer than I have to see that.

Next stop lunch! I had a great focaccia with tomatoe and fresh mozzarella on a regally nice balcony with a view of the shops on Ponte Vecchio.

My last sightseeing stop was the Pitti Palace where I toured the apartments and admired 5 centuries of room decor and furniture and of course - paintings and frescoes. No photos allowed. :(

After my full day I retired to the Balcony of Hotel Balcony with a bottle of white wine to sip while I sorted oit plans for my trip to Venice tomorrow. I met some folks from Austrailia who were on a "group honeymoon" LOL. Actually, the couple were wed in England but family from Australia came over for the wedding and rather than send them home, they all went on the honeymoon trip together. They were having a dinner of bread, cheese and meet they picked up from the local grocer, I got to join them and had some nice company for the evening? There they are over breakfast.

The hotel had a great breakfast included, which set me up well each morning. The owners - a man, who spoke little English but smiled a lot and his nephew Guido were wonderful hosts.

I did a fair bit of shopping while in Florence. The clothes are quite inexpensive and the styling of the fashions I found really to my taste. I bought way more than I should of and now my backpack is noticeably heavier. But I have a few really nice dresses to wear on the remaining trip and some new "fancy pants". When I was in Paris with the girls, Tegan and I bought what we called "fancy pants", which were pants that were billowy - like what the geni Aladin would wear. The distinctive feature is that the crotch of the pants was way lower than normal as the pants billowed out from the waist to the knee. Anyway, I have now a blue pair of these interesting trousers.

I also took advantage of the wonderful market to buy some saffron and some truffles. I am going to look for a cook book - but not until the end of my journey.



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