A May 1999 trip
to Florence by Barb B
Quote: It's been said that "All roads lead to Rome"--but my favorite city is Florence. The streets are a little less crowded, the traffic a little less furious--whatever the reason--My heart belongs in Florence!
Most streets in the tourist areas are closed to traffic; therefore, by foot is not just the suggested method, but the ONLY method!
You can enjoy a light snack, sandwich or cappuccino. Seating is available both indoors and outside. Prices are cheaper if you eat inside; however, the opportunity to watch such a parade of humanity is definitely worth the higher price.
Chocolate seems to be the specialty of the house here, with fresh pastries with smooth chocolate filling, tiny squares of bitter-sweet chocolate wrapped in colored foil, rectangular butter cookies with a thin layer of chocolate icing and a dusting of powdered sugar. A young German couple at the next table treated their toddler to a cup of thick hot cocolate with a huge portion of whipped cream on top.
A variety of fresh pannini (small sandwiches)was available--mostly salami, formaggio (cheeses), bruchetta and crostini. We (my husband and I) chose a crusty bread topped with cheeses, artichokes and olives, dressed with a simple olive oil--very tasty. Of course, the usual coffee, espresso, etc. were available, but we shared a half litre of local wine and watched the world go by. Of course, a small bit of chocolate (the ones wrapped in blue foil) was necessary to restore our energy.
A lovely place for a light lunch, a bit pricey--but definitely worth the cost. NOTE--Rivoire is closed on Monday.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 2, 2000
Piazza della Signoria, 5/r
Florence, Italy 50122
Attraction | "Boboli Gardens (Giardino di Boboli)"
Just a short walk across the Pointe Vecchio (Old Bridge) and you are there. A small admission fee (about $4 - US) gains admission to these lovely gardens.
There are fountains, a grotto, an amphitheatre, an oblisk from Egypt and ponds and statuary abound. The manicured paths lead past beautiful marble statues of every imaginable size and shape. Swans skim the tranquil pond and a gorgeous young Italian couple kiss beneath the umbrella of trees as we look out from the 'Kaffeehaus' (the highest point in the Gardens) to the fantastic view of Florence beyond. Two old women smile as they walk past, arm-in-arm, obviously enjoying a walk they have taken frequently and pleased that we too are enjoying the beauty 'their' gardens.
We (my husband & I and two friends from Oregon)found it really funny when we come upon a statue of a fat naked man sitting atop a turtle. (I'm told this is the dwarf of Cosimo I with Baccus astride its back) -- But I'm still not sure---WHY???? There is no explanation of WHY Baccus chooses to ride a turtle, but it makes for a good laugh.
You will surely enjoy the Bobboli Gardens and the opportunity it offers to take a break from the otherwise fast pace of the art museums and tour guides.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 27, 2000
Boboli Gardens (Giardini di Boboli)
Behind the Pitti Palace
Florence, Italy 50122
+39 (055) 2388786
This was once the city's principal palace when Florence was rising to power and greatness. The bold and lofty tower with its clock symbolises the pride of the people of Florence and the furnishings within the palace reflect their great love of art. It became known as The Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace when the main palace was moved to Palazzo Pitti by Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Inside you will see many finely decorated rooms. The small inner courtyard, the armoury, Vasari staircase and the Salone dei Cinquecento are all very special "must see" areas.
Horse drawn carriages await customers outside the Palazzo Vecchio if you are so inclined. The museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 28, 2000
Piazza della Signoria
In Front of the Palazzo Vecchio
Attraction | "The Duomo, Campanile and Baptistery"
The cathedral (DUOMO) with it's magnificant dome has become a symbol of the city. It is the third largest church in the world, behind St. Peters in Rome and the Cathedral of Milan. It is truly a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture and structural design. The Duomo's exterior facade of green and white marble forms intricate patterns and displays the ornate beauty of Florentine art. The exterior has an abundance of sculpted figures. As you walk around the duomo, notice the four portals - each with its own unique sculptures. The interior of the cathedral provides a sense of serenity with its magnificent stained glass windows, rich woods, soaring arches, recessed statues of saints in precious marble and, of course, the fresco of the Last Judgment on the inner surface of the dome.
The CAMPANILE (belfry) is also one of the great landmarks of Florence with its multicolor marble tower decorated with reliefs. It stands 269 ft tall and was completed in 1387. If time allows, it is well worth climbing the steps of the Campanile for a splendid view of the city.
The BAPTISTRY of St John is also situated in the Piazza del Duomo and is one of the oldest buildings in Florence. Note the octagonal shape and once again, the green and white marble from Carrara and Prato. The outstanding gilded bronze Renaissance doors on the east side, depict scenes from the Old Testament and is frequently referred to as the Gate of Paradise. The interior is dim, sombre and somewhat daunting. There is a gigantic figure of Christ, as Judge of the World at the Last Judgement. Grouped around him are figures of angels, apostles and saints. Also of interest are several of Donatello's masterpieces, great mosaics from the 14th century and metallic and marble ornamentation in the floors.
You can reach the Piazza Saint Giovanni by bus and the all 3 are open daily from 10am to 5pm.
Santa Maria del Fiore & Baptistery (Il Duomo)
Piazza Del Duomo
Florence, Italy 50122
Attraction | "The Ponte Vecchio"
The bridge crosses the Arno and links the Palazzo Pitti with the Uffizi. Today the Ponte Vecchio is lined with shops offering gorgeous luxury items -- Primarily gold and jewelry shops, but there are also some designer shops. Even if one is only window-shopping, it is definitely a wonderful walk. We were lucky enough to find a beautiful, silk Versace design tie for my husband at one of the shops along the way (and remarkably, we were even able to afford to buy it!).
We stopped mid-way across the bridge to admire the other bridges crossing the Arno and to have some gelato. Usually, when you order gelato in Italy, you choose 2-3 flavors served in a small cup. On this day, we each chose just one flavor each (albiacocca-apricot for me, and my husband selected fragoli-strawberry). We had stopped at this shop on previous trips and knew that they serve wonderfully creamy gelato, particularly the fruit flavors. We enjoyed our gelato as we continued across the Ponte Vecchio toward Boboli Gardens.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 3, 2000
Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge)
Over the Arno River
Florence, Italy 50125
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