Results 1-2of 2 Reviews
February 9, 2006
Florence is a must for art lovers the world over. The Uffizi is just awash with fantastic paintings that previously I'd only read about in books with famous painters such as da Vinci, Correggio, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Giotto, Rubens, and Rembrandt, to name but a few.
However, this is not just a museum—it’s an architectural masterpiece that is simply awe-inspiring. It was originally constructed in 1581 for the local officials of the state with, long and wide airy-corridors lined with classical statues and the light shining through the windows onto the highly polished floors, ornate ceilings and friezes, impressively decorated "offices", and a superb setting at the side of the River Arno.
The Cathedral is classic Italian Gothic and its heavily ornate colourful exterior is just staggeringly beautiful. Statues seem to be everywhere, bright paintings are above each of the doors and circular windows adorn the building. I don’t think that there is a centimetre of the building that isn’t decorated in some way. Work started in 1245 and took over a century to complete (1367). The impressively bulbous dome oversees the whole of the church, and you will not be surprised to hear that the interior certainly has the "wow factor."
Just in front of the Cathedral is the octagonal-shaped Baptistery. It’s one of the oldest buildings in Florence, and its foundations date back to the 11th century. Its striped walls are indeed overshadowed by the Cathedral, but it is a magnificent building with fantastically ornate bronze doors, known as the "gates of Paradise." Inside, a visit worth making for 5 euros, the artwork and mosaics are breathtaking and worthy of your close attention.
From the top of the tall, elegant Campanile, started in 1334, you get a great view of the town, but you’ll have to climb over 400 steps to make it. Worth the effort if you’re feeling fit!
I reckon everyone has heard of the Ponte Vecchio, which was constructed in the early 16th century. It’s always been a key trading centre, and initially it was "home" to the city’s master craftsmen dealing almost exclusively in gold. Nowadays, hoards of tourists trail across the precarious-looking bridge looking for bargains. They will surely be disappointed because, not surprisingly, the shops in this area command perhaps the highest prices in town. But it is an experience to view some unique pieces, admire a superb view down the River Arno and imagine the importance of this bridge, protected at one end by the Mannelli Tower in the 1500s. From a distance I just wondered how the bridge was continuing to survive.
From journal Touring Tuscany
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
March 23, 2002
A Diary Extract...
Outside Mama Aily's we stop at our "local" for espresso and croissants. Guido and Aldo are here again, still arguing in the corner. The conversation sounds the same as yesterday but I guess we wouldn’t know any different. Across the ponte Vecchio we head for the Boboli Gardens, Karen repeating the name ad nauseum as we walk. I think she’s lost her marbles.
"Boboli, Boboli, Boboli."
There are cool, aromatic forests of ilex and cypress. We sit on the grass, enclosed by boxed hedges. Karen photographs red and yellow tulips. There aren’t many flowers, mostly wooded groves, statues and fountains - a lovely place to relax.
Across from the Pitti Palace we browse through an artsy jewellery store, chatting to an English girl working here. She’s been living in Florence with her Italian boyfriend for two years. Funny how you miss the ease of conversation when you can’t understand anything. She recommends a restaurant in the Oltrarno that serves spaghetti and clams for L12.000 and we write it down.
Back across the river we detour to greet Dylan, a grey-haired terrier living downstairs from mama, before picking up fresh paninis, melon and pastries from a bar that we eat at in Piazza Republica. All the museums are free this week -- some festival I can’t pronounce -- and we dive into the Palazzo Vecchio for some insight into the domestic indulgences of the Medicis.
At the Bargello we are more impressed. Michelangelo’s treasures surround us in this sculptors’ Renaissance Hall of Fame. All just a prelude to the main event. I’m going for the baci, zabaglione and pistachio today, Karen the limone and baci. Vivoli has 64 flavours and I reckon I’ve tried 20 of them, but I keep coming back to the baci.
We waddle towards Piazza Santa Croce (everything is Santa something here) and its 13C church, the world’s largest Fanciscan church the book says. This is more like a Renaissance Shrine of Fame. Michelangelo, Dante and Machiavelli are all here, even Galileo. Beautiful tombs. There are many visitors but it’s so silent. Time for a sobering espresso.
We percolate our way up via dei Neri to collect the washing. Karen lost a sock but she’s not worried – she has five more. When we return to Mama Aily’s the bundle of washing jogs her memory and she delivers fresh threadbare towels and asks me to open a jar of pickles.
We find the Borgo Antico on Piazza Santo Spirito in the Oltrarno, dining on fresh pasta with clams, too much red wine, a little dancing and a lot of laughing. Our best meal so far. It’s late but a nightcap beckons at the bar below mama’s and it’s here we meet Jimy and Maria. Jimy owns a leather stall at the market and Maria is studying to be a microbiologist.
They are infatuated with each other but deny it.
We instantly like both of them.
From journal TRAVELS IN TUSCANY - No Licence Required