We reversed field out of Venice and took our bags to the Vaporetto back to the parking area where the bus waited for us. We boarded and set out south for Florence. We traveled through by Padua and through Ferrara and Bologna. We are now in Tuscany. We saw some of the beautiful countryside that we had always read about.
For something different we stopped at an autogrill for lunch outside of Florence. It was actually a really good selection and good food. We wanted to be fed because as soon as we got to Florence and set up in our hotel, we were off for a Renaissance walk-a-bout in central historic Florence.
Before we drove into downtown Florence we stpped at a park high up on a hill on the other side of the Arno River to look down on a panoramic view of Florence. WE could see many of the buildings that today and tomorrow discuss, but before our walk around those names didn't mean that much to me. With hindsight I can point out some things that I discuss later, so look at the captions on the photos in this series for more info.
Our hotel is just a block from the Medici Chapels where many of the powerful Medici family are buried. We walked past iton our way to the Piazza de San Giovani where the baptistery and the Duomo are located. The Baptistry was a place wehre folks could go to baptized (full immersion) before they went into the Duomo. The art part were the dorrs on the Baptistry, which were decoratred in the new Renaissance style at different times and with increasing elaborateness.
From there we walked to Piazza della Signoria, wehre much of the political power of Florence was exercised. It is dominated by the Palazzo Vecchio and its tower. Next to it is the Uffizi Gallery, which houses a huge collection of Renaissance art collected by the Florentine nobles and ruling families over the years. Then we made our way to Santa Croce Church, built in the 1300s but decoated with a 19th Century Victorian Gothic Façade. Inside are buried many notables of Florence, including Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli.
Then we walked to the Accademia where our group had a late afternoon pass to see Michelangelo’s David and other statutes by Michelangelo. We went right in with no lines and had a great opportunity to get a close up look at the huge statue. It was planned to be placed atop the Duomo, but they ended up not putting it there. Unfortunately no pictures were allowed, but there were enough copies of the David around (one in bronze in the park across the river, one in the Piazza della Signoria in front of Palazzo Vecchio) to get an idea of how it looks. The big controversy we were trying to resolve as we studied the statue is what time does it depict—before David has taken his shot at Goliath or after he has felled him? Looking at the original I became convinced that it was before he took the shot because even though he is very relaxed, he is alert in a way that expresses complete confidence because he ahs the power of God behind him. Susan decided that this was after his first shot when he felled Goliath but before he was sure he was dead. (This is also the museum curator’s view).
From there it was back to the hotel for a few minutes, then we went on to a group dinner “just around the corner” to a restaurant called Grigio Rosso (Grey-Red). I put quotes around “just around the corner” because in Florence we discovered that our guide Donald’s impression of this term is not the same as other mortals. To Donald, “just around the corner” can mean up to 5 long blocks of walking to get to the corner and around it. After a full afternoon of walking we were really impressed by this difference.
After dinner we walked back to the Pizza della Signoria because Donald had told us that it was really impressive at night. Florence is so much more open than Venice, and it has a more vibrant feel at night. WE spent some time in the Piazza walking around, and then as we walked back we stopped at the Piazza della Repubblica and listened for a little while to a stret singer--a woman with a powerful opera-level voice accompanied by an accordianist. WE liked her so much we went back to listen again the next day. The it was home to sleep in our bed under the chubby cherubs.