Florence, Italy

Friday, June 3, 2016

Once upon a time, Chris and I planned to go to Florence, Italy after he graduated from dental school back in 2013. Then, when we got our assignment to Germany with the army, we cancelled those plans knowing we could get there and spend more time there more easily. But, for some reason, it has taken us almost three years to finally get down to Florence! After Bologna we drove the short way to Florence and checked into our airbnb. It was late so we cozied up and went to sleep. The next morning we set out to see all we could see in Florence!

Florence, the home of the Renaissance and the birthplace of our modern world, has the best Renaissance art in Europe. The Duomo, Florence's Gothic cathedral, has the third-longest nave in Christendom and is topped by Brunelleschi's magnificent dome, the first Renaissance dome and the largest since the ancient Pantheon and the model for domes to follow, including Michelangelo's atop St. Peter's in Rome. 
 The front facade of the Duomo with the campanile, called Giotto's Tower, to the right.
The baptistry fronted with replica's of the famous bronze Gates of Paradise by Ghiberti.
There is just so much to look at with this church! It's fascinating.
The bell tower is 270 feet tall and is open to visitors to climb.
The Neo-Gothic facade of the church is from the 1870s, 
Such a cool area. 

The Duomo was built with a big hole in its roof, awaiting a dome... but it was built before the technology to span the hole with a dome even existed. They knew that someone could rise to the challenge, and that someone was Filipo Brunelleschi.

Jane walks like she's a bird everywhere she goes.

And her favorite thing in the whole wide world is to chase pigeons:

How much is that gelato in the window?
Super cute gelato stand.
Looking up at Brunelleschi's masterpiece from inside the church. Chris climbed up there, I stayed back with the kiddos.
It's cool that Florence is such a hidden gem. No one knows about it yet...
My dad would love this ;)
The ceiling of the baptistry is quite a sight.
Our next stop was the Duomo museum where the original Gates of Paradise are displayed.

While copies now decorate the exteriors of the Duomo and bell tower, the original sculptured masterpieces from both are now restored and displayed safely in the museum. 
A late Pietà by Michelangelo.
We stopped in a little cafe for some lunch near San Lorenzo. 
Pizza, tagliatelle, Yellow edition Red Bull, and a big bowl of fresh pineapple for Fox.
The nearby street market along Via dell'Ariento.
The church of San Lorenzo with its red brick dome barely visible. The dome looks like the Duomo's little sister. This is the Medici church and the burial place of many of the family members, including the family's founder Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici.

Inside one of the Medici Chapels, the Chapel of Princes. 
Fox and Jane in the Chapel of Princes.
The highlight of the Medici Chaples is found in the New Sacristy: architecture, tombs, and statues almost entirely by Michelangelo.

I have this thing with floors, still.
While on the Medici note we decided to check out their palace, the home of Lorenzo the Magnificent. 

Chunky to smooth. 
The courtyard inside the palazzo. 
The back garden where a young Michelangelo once worked. 
The spirit of the Renaissance.
The former library has a Baroque ceiling by Luca Giordanc, a prolific artist from Naples.

Fox and Jane are so funny to watch. What are they whispering about?
Looking out from the palazzo to the city. 
The palace is now used for city government functions. Jane sang me her ABCs.

Yep. I still have this thing with floors.
And doors.
After an afternoon rest at our airbnb apartment, we went to one of the highlights of the city, the Accademia Gallery. See that statue down at the end? That is the one and only David, by Michelangelo.
It's strange seeing such iconic things like this in real life. Even when you're there it doesn't quite feel real.

My men in front of the statue.
After the David, we checked out the rest of the gallery. 
Troublemakers ;)

Wednesday morning we took showers and got ready and then the water stopped working...??? I emailed the airbnb host and asked him what's up and he said it was a city wide disaster... Apparently a section of the embankment of the River Arno in central Florence collapsed sending part of the road and at least 20 parked cars into a newly formed ditch! YIKES!
We rode the bus to Florence and got off to walk because the traffic was so bad - the hullabaloo surrounding the accident was in full swing with police and firetrucks e'ry'wur.

Looking up the river to the Ponte Vecchio from the Ponte Alla Grazie.

First stop of the day: Santa Croce. The 19th century Victorian Gothic facade faces a huge square ringed with shops. 

Behind the 19th century facade is a 14th century Franciscan church decorated with centuries of precious art and holds the tombs of great Florentines. 
Queuing to enter.
The magnificent interior. 

Jane and Fox admiring a tomb plaque. 
Loads of famous people now make Santa Croce their final resting place. Here's the tomb of the original bad boy of politics, Niccolo Machiavelli.
Tomb for Dante, although he is actually buried in Ravenna. He was exiled from Florence and Ravenna has stoutly refused to return his remains. 
The great one, Michelangelo.
Looking down the nave. 
Here's Casa Buonarroti, not too accurately called Michelangelo's house. It's a house built on a piece of property once owned by Michelangelo built long after his death by a grand-nephew.
Because it's PINK!

Painted on a wall - inspiration is everywhere!

Our next stop: the Bargello sculpture museum.
Donatello's revolutionary David bronze. 
The courtyard of the museum.
Bright red flowers against a bright yellow building.
I can't count how much ice cream we got these guys. It was a lot :)
City art.
We crossed the river and hiked up to the Piazzle Michelangelo. Worth every drop of sweat to get up to the top!

Our family in Florence on Wednesday May 27th 2016.

Mint bike GIMMEE!
After another afternoon rest, we went back for our last evening in Florence. We made our way to the Piazza della Signoria and the castle-like fortress, the Palazzo Vecchio. The 300 foot spire dominates Florence's main square. In Renaissance times, this was the town hall where citizens pioneered the once radical notion of self-rule. In 1540, the tyrant Cosimo I de' Medici made it his personal palace and redecorated the interior in lavish style.

The Grand Hall inside the Palazzo.

After touring the Palazzo Vecchio, we headed for the highlight of Florence, the Uffizi Gallery.
The gallery is the greatest collection of Italian paintings anywhere and features works by Giotto, Leonardo, Raphael, Caravaggio, Titian, Michelangelo, and Botticelli.
One of my favorites, portraits of the Duke of Urbino and his wife Battista Sforza by Piero della Francesca. I dressed up as the Battista Sforza for one Halloween in an art class in college so it was really cool to see in real life.
Looking out the windows of the Uffizi.
The Ponte Vecchio.

It was a wee bit crowded.
Michelangelo's Holy Family.
One of the highlights, Botticelli's Birth of Venus.
The Palazzo Vecchio from the cafe at the Uffizi.
Leaving the Uffizi we crossed the Arno river on the Ponte Vecchio. Florence's most famous bridge has long been lined with shops. Originally these were butcher shops that used the river as a handy disposal system. Then, when the powerful Medici family built the Vasari Corridor, the elevated, enclosed passageway on the bridge, the stinky meat market was replaced by the more elegant gold and silver shops that remain there to this day.
Pretty sparkly things.
And that pretty well wrapped up our visit to Florence! We slowly made our way to our apartment and turned in for the night.
On our walk back to the apartment we passed by the sunken embankment - so crazy!
What stories does this doorbell plaque have to tell?
I would love to see a time lapse of everyone making their mark on this demolition site wall.
Our family in Florence on Tuesday May 24th 2016. We had a lovely time!

Next stop: Pisa!


  1. What a wonderful trip that must have been!!! WOW!! LOVING all the photos!! That is CRAZY about the embankment collapsing like that! Thankful that no one was hurt! Jane is sooooooooo cute chasing the pigeons! She would have a FIELD day in my front yard ... we have 2 palm trees and they are CONSTANTLY here! LOL!!!!

  2. The one and only Florence! I'm so glad we finally made it!

  3. My daughter is heading to Italy for a study abroad adventure, and I will most definitely be sharing this post with her! Thanks!


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