Thursday, August 19, 2010

Florence

Honestly, this is the one day trip in Tuscany we could have skipped. (gasp I know.) Florence is a mecca of Italian art. Art in Florence boiled over with the Medici family's historical golden age. Consequently it became home to artists, architects, poets, philosophers, musicians and the like to the city which is still rich and busy today. With children in tow though, the long lines for museums, hectic urban pace, and crowds of art goers and tourists, made it possibly our least favorite site. If we had left the kids in the Leonardo da Vinci museum on their own, possibly the city may have been a grander place to explore. Nevertheless, we've now been there done that, and here are the photos to prove it.
We trained into the Stazione Centrale upon recommendations not to battle the mopeds and crazy drivers surrounding the city.
Upon arrival, we headed out on a bus which took us to this overlook of the city. Here's a glimpse of what Stella was viewing..

The city rests on the shores of the Arno River and this particular stretch has inspired artists for centuries.
We wandered over the piazza of the Basilicca Santa Croce, which thrilled the kids to no end, simply because they found more pigeons to torment. This church happens to be a Florentine pantheon among burial places for celebrities. It's home to the tombs of Michelangeo, Galileo, Ghiberti, composer Rossini and hosts a memoiral to poet Dante. It also features the art work of Donnatello and Giotto.
Art is alive and everywhere in Florence. Everywhere.
(so are the crowds)



It wasn’t long before we found ourselves at the Duomo. Now, this is one magnificent piece of architecture. The Duomo in Florence (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) is a place where here art meets architecture, no doubt. The immense duomo boasts an imposing façade, but its real glory is Brunelleschi’s dome, which overlooks the cathedral. The space to be enclosed by the dome was so large and high above the ground, that traditional methods of building and construction could not be utilized. He designed a completely new scaffolding method, then built two domes. One inside the other, the domes were connected by ribbing stretching across the empty space. He also used a new method of laying bricks, in a herringbone pattern so that each course of bricks was interlocking and the structure was better self supported. St. Peter’s in Rome was built employing Brunelleschi’s methods and the dome is symbolic to Florentines. Truly magnificent.





Heading in a purposeful direction, we stumbled upon a museum expose of Leonardo da Vinci’s works, built into life-sized and model size proportions. This was a hands on museum and one dedicated to celebrating Vinci and his ingenious work. Well done, and a good time for the kids.


(Above, Emory is using a "prospettografo". This equipment was used by painters for the realistic and elaborate sense of perspective on frescoes.)

We wandered on our way towards the Galleria dell’Accademia to see a smattering of work by Michelangelo, among others. The ‘Accademia’ had a considerable line, but we held on, partly because the line at least moved in a forwardly direction, and partly because we wanted to see Michelangelo’s original David. No camera’s were allowed and the place was secured like a federal prison, but we can tell you that David is quite grandiose, much larger than one might expect. His hands for one thing are simply huge, but so was Goliath, so he would have needed big hands for a proper slaying.
It was upon entering the Galleria dell'Accademia that Addie asked for a funny clarification,
"Now mom, is it Davis or David?"

A few steps further we were met with a market. Stalls filled with everything from sausages to stationery. Florence is known for it’s beautiful papers. There were even a few stalls selling Venetian masks.


However, we weren’t up for shopping and didn’t have the need for a Venetian mask, so we sought out a place to eat- among the options was this one. Highly recommend those places that don’t charge you extra to sit down,…



We landed at 'home', the cabin,  late, tired, and very dirty. I snapped this quick pic of the girls feet before I threw them in the shower. Nasty! Those toes said they earned a well deserved day of fun in the sun on the beach. (More on the "American Beach" in Italy to come.)

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