February 19, 2013

Photos of Firenze [Florence]

The duomo peeks above buildings in Florence.
After spending a short time in Milano we took Trenitalia south to Florence. It's about a two and a half hour train ride with one stop in Bologna. For the rest of our trip we had a home base in Florence and took day trips to Siena, Pisa, and Lucca. We had exactly one week in Florence/Tuscany - which was a nice amount of time, but we still have lots to do when we go back again. (I can hope, right?)

I LOVE Italy! and this trip was MAGIC! Three years ago, we went to Rome and Orvieto. After studying about the Renaissance and art history in college, I HAD to go to Florence. I was really disappointed that we didn't make it to Florence that trip, but Jon promised we would go some day. And he made good on his promise and Florence did not disappoint. I was so impressed with the city - the size, the architecture, the history, the food and the art was just so... wow... MAGIC. 

This post is only about Florence, and is quite long. I've added a jump to save blog space. Also, the bold words mostly lead to wikipedia, in case you're interested in learning more about the sights and history of Florence. 

Let's start with the main sights of Florence:

The red dome in the background is from the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore Duomo, and the octagonal building in the foreground is the Baptistery of St. John.
These baptistery doors were done by Lorenzo Ghiberti, and were considered by Michelangelo to be "the Gates of Paradise." They are more like the "Gates of the Renaissance." These are not the real ones, though they are still so beautiful. The detail in the illustrated scenes from the bible are amazing! 
A wonky panorama of the fa├žade of the duomo.
I'm not one for ooh-ing and ah-ing over church interiors though I do appreciate it. I feel strange taking pictures in churches, but I had to snap a picture of the Vasari's fresco of The Last Judgement on the ceiling of the duomo. That's more 250 feet high, and I WENT UP THERE!
I am severely afraid of heights, but I try not to let that stop me from doing amazing things like going to the top. My hands sweat so badly and my body tingles all over, but I made it. Here's proof:
This scaredy cat photo taken by Jon.
The amazing view:
That tall building in the middle is the town hall of Florence, or the Palazzo Vecchio, which dates from the 15th century. 
Click the photo to see if you can spot David
A copy of Michelangelo's David stands where the original once stood, but that's not the most impressive sculpture in the Piazza della Signoria. The Loggia dei Lanzi is an outdoor sculpture pavilion, and it's magnificent to walk through.
The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna. 16th century.
A more recent sculpture from the 19th century, The Rape of Polyxena.

The Uffizi Gallery, the most famous museum of Renaissance art is right next to the Palazzo Vecchio.We had tickets for our last full day there. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed, but it was everything I had ever hoped it would be and more. I saw key historical artworks by Da Vinci, Titian, Caravaggio and Botticelli. Some of my favorites below...
The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. 1486. 
Primavera by Sandro Botticelli. 1482,
I never thought I would see these paintings in real life. The detail and delicateness of Botticelli's work took my breath away. It was totally worth waiting for. 

View of the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio  from the Uffizi. The walkway that you see above the medieval bridge was added in the 16th century so that the influential Medici family would not need to walk among the townsfolk.
Another view of the Ponte Vecchio.
The ponte vecchio is now the jewelry district of Florence filled with fine and not-so-fine jewelry shops. On the other side of the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio is the Pitti Palace, the once home of the Medici's and Napoleon. Now it is an multi-museum complex. We went inside on a rainy day and saw some beautiful works of Italian art, costume and sculpture. Behind the palace are the Boboli Gardens. Perhaps we'll go back and see it when the weather is nice...

Back on the other side of the river, the Basilica di Santa Croce. This was of interest to Jon and I because this is where Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli is buried.  
It's also where the leather school is located. 
That was pretty cool, though their wares are still very expensive. 

Speaking of Michealangelo, we had our reservation for the Accademia on our last full day in Florence. Again, no photos allowed in the gallery - which was a good thing. It's hard to appreciate a work of art if all you are concerned with is getting the right photo.  
 David is astounding! Over 14 feet tall, he towers over visitors. The detail in the stone - the smoothness, the veins, the facial expression, it's unreal. It's truly a work art, it's an experience to see it in person. One I won't forget. 

And this is one of the last photos we took in Florence: Il Porcellino.
According to legend, if you place a coin in the boar's mouth and let it fall in the grate below, then rub the nose of the boar, you will be sure to come back to Florence.

Here's hoping!

You can view Jon's Fickr photos of Florence here

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