What a difference a day in Florence makes!
Trip Start Oct 24, 2010
51Trip End Jan 16, 2011
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Some say that Cesar founded Florence in the year 56 A.D. because there was a shallow ford in the River Arno near here. This ford was strategic for Cesar's military armies to have access to northern Italy and Gaul (France). Other say that the Etruscans has a encampment here hundreds of years before Cesar arrived.
Under the Medici family, the city grew into the center of art and culture in the mid 1400s. Staring as a small banking family, the Medicis supported a local character for Cardinal. Their support helped the individual become Cardinal. The same Cardinal later became Pope. The result of this good fortune was that the Medicis became, in effect, God's bankers! What a stroke of luck. Under Lorenzo and Cossimo Medici, Florence sponsored the greatest explosion of artistic expression in art history
The artistic quality of ancient Greece and Rome had been lost during the devastating ravages of the middle ages. This renewal, begun in Florence, was named the renacionmento or "Re Birth" Today this period is known as the Renaissance. Artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Bottecelli, and Michelangelo flourished here under the patronage of the Medicis.
Several generations later a Medici actually became Pope. He was Pope Leo the 10th. Under his management, (or some would say mismanagement) , he instituted the program of indulgences which resulted in the Protestant reformation, led by Martin Luther.
There is so much history here and so little space on my blog. We spent most of our time in Florence visiting the famous art galleries. The Uffusi museum, to see Bottecelli's Birth of Venus, the Accademia to see Michaelangelo's DAVID , Lippi, and Leonardo de Vinci's works. It was almost impossible to take photos in the art museums. They had signs all over the place, and would not even allow photos without the flash. They want to control the images of this art. They feel they have the copyright to them. They will, however, be thrilled to sell you catalogs, calendars, and coffee mugs of the same images for inflated prices in the gift shops
Between museums, we walked along the cobblestone streets between rows of medieval buildings. The highlight of our stay was our climb to the top of Brunelleschi's dome. There are no lifts. There are 463 steps from the floor of the Basilica to the top of the Cupola. This dome, in it's day was an engineering miracle. It was in fact the largest dome of it's kind in the world. We climbed and climbed, and I was huffing and puffing. When we reached to top, it was nearly sunset, and the sky was crystal clear. We could hear the bell tower built by Giotto, ringing in the hour next door. The climb was well worth the effort. A wonderful memory from a beautiful evening in Florence.- My ankles and knees, however, are still talking to me three days later.
We are staying in a 1 star hotel called Pensione Ferritti. It cost 37 Euro a night, has a bath down the hall and the bed is a bit swayback, but who complaining. It is very clean, centrally located and close to the train station. It is a good deal considering the location and the price. The management is friendly, and the place has wi-fi. Thanks again for the referral Tom.
I have seen so much art and history in the past few days that I must admit to a sense of Museum overload. "Oh, there is another Michelangelo, and yet another Leonardo da Vinci." It has all been fascinating and beautiful , but a bit tiring
Sometimes, while trying to keep up with Barb, holding her list of things to see and do, I feel like a contestant in the "Biggest Loser" as I struggle to keep up and the pounds melt from my tired body.
I would like to mention the prices here in Italy. You can find reasonably priced good food here. You can also very easily walk into a place that looks like it may charge less, place an order and be very surprised at the bill you receive at the end of your meal. Yesterday, I ordered a gelato cone with out asking the price. I had to pay over $10 for a one scoop ice cream! Barb and I walked into restaurant cafe, and ordered 4 cappuccinos and a couple of sandwiches for breakfast and came out with bill for over $30 US. The trick is to ALWAYS ask the price, and if it is too high, just keep walking. Generally speaking the closer you are to special site, or closer to the tourist track, the more you will pay.
Also watch out for scams, outright fraud. Yesterday Barb and I enjoyed an 11 Euro bottle of wine near the main Basilica. We also had two sandwiches for 4 Euro each. The total should have been 19 Euro. When we asked for the bill the waiter arrived and announce that the bill was 50 Euro ($65.00!) We asked for the printed receipt. He said his machine was broken. We pulled out a calculator and announced "This machine is not broken" He sheepishly went away and returned with an " I'm sorry, that wine is normally 25 Euro". We paid the bill and left no tip. You've got to pay attention.
Next we take the day trip to Lucca, a medieval city near Florence surrounded by 14 meter high walls. Stay tuned!