Sunday, January 15, 2006

Florence, Italy

The Singh family was visiting with us. We took the train from Piacenza and our first stop was Florence. We were in a small but very nice hotel just behind the Duomo. Florence is, in my opinion, the most beautiful city in Italy. The first impact of the Duomo and the Baptistery leaves you speechless! The Baptistery, with its incredible bronze doors, is from the 4th century, the oldest building in Florence. Next time we will climb to the top of the famous dome, designed by Brunelleschi.

Florence was the home of the Medici family for many years. Between 1865 and 1871 Florence was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. The Medici family was extremely rich and they patronized the Arts. Today many streets, churches and palaces in Florence are filled with examples of fine Renaissance work of the artists who flocked to Florence, and its wealthy patrons.

We walked into the Piazza della Signoria and immediately bought a famous Florentine ice cream. I winced at the price but this was an indulgence!! The line for the Uffizi was 4 hours long. So we visited the Palazzo Vecchio. We walked around this beautiful building with its amazing paintings, statues and frescos. We loved it! We walked towards the Ponte Vecchio. There were so many street entertainers, painters and other artists selling their wares, we almost could not walk. The Ponte Vecchio is a small covered bridge across the Arno River. It is lined on both sides with jeweler’s shops, famous for their work through the ages. We took a fun bus ride to see the city with microphones that were not working very well. But we managed to understand some things about the history of Florence.

We wanted to see the Palazzo Pitti but because it was Monday, it was closed and we settled for the Boboli gardens instead. A word of advice – avoid Florence on a Monday! I am so sad because I wanted to show you the ‘Madonna of the Chair’ by Raphael, my favorite painting of all time. The original is in this building! This is a beautiful city that needs to be visited many times to discover all its beautiful art and history.
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