After our idyllic stay in the Querceto de Castellini agriturismo, we drove to Florence without difficulty and turned in our rental car. We took a taxi to the vicinity of our Airbnb, marveling all the way at the driver's adeptness in navigating Florence's busy, narrow and maze-like streets. After lunch it was time to check in to our place, so we dragged our suitcases down the street and up this hill to #5 door.
This was exciting, because I had been looking forward to this apartment ever since I booked it. It advertised 80 steps up to the apartment (after the hill), but the reward of a terrific view from the apartment balcony at the top. We had packed light, but I still had visions of a struggle on the stairs. But, the lovely young lady who showed us to the room grabbed my suitcase and carried it up all 80 steps for me, despite my protestations. We were glad we had been studying Italian because she was happy to tell us all about the apartment and how to get around in Florence, but she didn't speak English. She was an awesome help, and it was a delight speaking Italian with her. Here are some pictures of our apartment.
Yes, there are more stairs to the bedrooms and bathroom.
The apartment is on the south side of the Arno, just across from all the action, so you can't beat this location.
And the view did not disappoint! It was everything I had wanted it to be...an amazing lookout over Florence that just took our breath away.
From our bedroom onto the balcony...
We were directed to a wonderful grocery close by, Conad, and picked up enough stuff to cook a nice dinner, wine to drink, etc. and then tucked in for a fantastic evening on the balcony, planning our next day carefully.
On our one day in Florence we crossed the Arno River via the Ponte Vecchio, just two blocks from us...
The Arno was a very important key to commerce in Tuscany.
Crewing on the Arno.
On the other side of the Arno..
At the end of the narrow street appears the Duomo.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
Everything is made from marble. I didn't know there were different colors.
The tower at the Duomo Piazza
It was impressive, but we had no time to go inside. By 8 am crowds were bustling and we thought we'd better find the Academia for which we had tickets already. Warning: get your tickets ahead of time or you won't get in.
We got our on-line tickets stamped, then waited in line for our group's time to go in. We first enjoyed the exhibit of musical instruments left behind by the Medicis who were major supporters of music and visual arts in their court.
There were listening stations and we listened to one presentation about Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina who introduced and advanced the idea that you could have more than one voice singing at a time. It was thrilling to hear the choral singing of his music as they played it in your ear after you just viewed the Duomo where it was sung.
Next we began to visit the sculptures, both plaster and marble, as well as the 2-dimensional paintings.
Women were represented in many sculptures, but often as dead. Many times a wealthy man would commission a sculptor to fashion a statue with his beloved wife lying on her death bed, perhaps with a small child hanging on the bed clothes.
Women's hairdos were apparently a big deal in the old days, changing from year to year and being memorialized in busts of women wearing various and sundry dos.
These 12th century pieces were unsigned.
But, the big event of the Academia for us was Michelangelo's David, as it is for many. I was caught off-guard, moving with the huge crowd around the rooms, eventually turning a corner where all of a sudden David came into view out in the middle of the room. He seemed HUGE, and actually made me breathe funny and grab onto my husband's arm. He was that impressive. Granted he was placed high on a 6-ft. pedestal, and that contributed to his seeming size, but even knowing that, he was absolutely spell-binding, and HUGE, and made of the smoothest imaginable marble...definitely worth seeing. David's statue was, for a long time, outside in a park, but was moved indoors to protect him from weathering. We heard, though, that now he is suffering mini-fractures due to the footsteps of so many people pounding the floor of the room he is in.
Here he is.
Even now I get that awed feeling when I look at his picture.
After David, we found a Leonardo da Vinci museum which we just loved. It had reproductions of many of Da Vinci's inventions, writings, and paintings. There were two large rooms of machines featuring gears, wings, levers, and other machines. The man was an amazing genius and he was allowed to just invent, invent, invent without interference by those who supported his activities. He left a huge body of work.
Two large rooms were filled with all kinds of wooden machines, with every kind of wing and gear, performing all sorts of useful tasks, all inventions of the genius engineer Da Vinci. I'm not sure why I don't have pictures of those replications, but they were hands-on, functional and fascinating, and there were SO many!!
We then visited the Medici Palace which was grand and had a lot of paintings, mostly of Medici relatives and some great statues.
This is a painting in the chapel of Ferdinand Medici where we overheard an art interpreter explaining that Fernando was proud of having met with kings from the far East, so the painting of the three kings painted in his chapel might have a double entendre, representing the three kinds visiting Jesus, but also his (Fernando's) international association with kings from far-away countries, especially with the dark-skinned king on the horse.
Lorenzo the Magnificent
This one tickled me. A mirror in a painting. See me?
Then we took to the streets to just wander about.
Here are eggplants coming to the city in a van.
I wonder what this pharmacy was dispensing in 1561.
Motorcycles can navigate these tiny streets better than cars.
After wandering about for a bit longer we trekked home for another pasta dinner in our adorable apartment. I do regret we didn't have the energy to hike up the hill above our apartment house to the Boboli Gardens. They would've been great. It was just up this hill from our apartment in the green trees and apparently was full of Michelangelo and other sculptures. Sigh.
Florence at night is lit up big time...just filled our little bedroom with light.
Next morning a taxi got us back to the airport and we had to come home.
Florence to Paris goes over the Alps.
Carol Blackard says...
Thanks, Adria. They sure take me right back there!
March 07, 2019
Adria Beaver says...
Carol & Scott,
These photos are amazing! They brought back such wonderful memories. Can’t wait to return. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Mike. Glad you enjoyed the stroll.
Michael Bowen says...
A delightful illustrated stroll through what must be the world’s (not just Europe’s) most fascinating city.
Thanks, Dan. We have such fond memories…and the pictures help. Cool that you’ve been able to be there in person…twice!