Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Florence or Firenze is a city of prestige, style, and art.
This was the most powerful city in Europe for 250 years or so and really helped Europe come out of the dark ages with currency. It's also credited with creating opera, the most authentic Italian spoken,  and Pinocchio. The Renaissance and Neo-Classical architecture from Brunelleschi and Alberti changed the way cities would be built forever. As we walked through the streets I kept thinking it would have been incredible to live during this age of discovery and creativity.
One of the most memorable courses I took in my art history studies was Italian Renaissance art. Seeing many of the things I learned about with my own eyes was really something special.
The landscape alone made such a gorgeous tapestry of colors with the late Autumn leaves, purple mountains, and rolling hills. It's certainly clear to see why it's an inspiration for artists.
We were lucky to visit during the off-peak season. The city itself while sprawling, has a concentrated area for the touristy things, so it probably doesn't take much for it to feel slightly congested. Before our trip I read the Florentines are their own type of people: elegant, cultured, and sophisticated.
Our apartment was right at the Palazzo Vecchio (where the David originally stood) and the Uffizi in the Santa Croce district, which is reputed to have some of the best restaurants.
I think we ate cannolis every morning for breakfast... and maybe a small one after dinner if we weren't enjoying the cantuccini + vino santo.
There seemed to be no shortage of Americans celebrating Thanksgiving in Italy - from the college students biking around to the older tour groups.
I was able to cross a few things off my list of impressive art and architecture to experience: Bottecelli's Birth of Venus, Michelangelo's David, Brunelleschi’s dome, and Giotto's Tower to name a few. We also picked up a kitschy ornament of the David he'll remind us of our trip for holidays to come.
It intrigues me how so many artists had patrons with ties to the church, powerful families, and endless amounts of money. Seeing how art, math, and engineering combine to create some very impressive works makes that money well invested.
We pre-booked tickets to the Galleria dell'Accademia and Uffizi, which turned out not to be necessary since there weren't so many tourists. A little tip if the pre-booked tickets are sold out is to head to this little window between the Palazzo Vecchio and the Cathedral. They have tickets from cancelled reservations for the various museums.
Here are some of the pretty things we saw, ate, and experienced: 
Ponte Vecchio
Meats, Cheeses, Cantuccini + Vino Santo
Baptistry Doors
Catholic street art
Giotto's Tower + The Cathedral Façade
Osteria Pepò ... for a terrific wine filled lunch
Medici Palace
The view from Giotto's Tower 
gelato + pastries
The Florence Marathon... one of these two won
The Occupy Florence movement
Pretty street decor
Ospedale degli Innocenti by Brunelleschi
Ospedal degli Innocenti details
Motorbikes along the Arno
Ponte Vecchio's jewelry shops
Christmas lights

Uffizi Gallery
Palmanova Starfort... something cool we spotted from the plane window.

As always, I wish that we had more time to explore the city and to visit the outskirts as well. 

The Tuscan area certainly has an allure to it. 

I'm looking forward to looking at some of the photos my parents took (slides actually) when they visited Italy and Florence on their honeymoon. I'm sure the fashions from the 1970's alone will be a treat. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, such nice photos of Florence! My husband and I went only a one-day trip, but i remember really well how good was its chocolate gelato! ;-)
Enjoy holiday season!