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Florence - Day 18 Wednesday 9/18

The third time is the charm. But was it worth the wait?


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This is our third trip to Florence, and we have never been inside the Duomo. Why? The lines...all the time, early, late, a seemingly endless line of people encircling this beautiful church, and we never wanted to spend our precious time in the line. So, today, we put on our WDW game faces (now, there's the place where you learn to endure lines), and decided that we would make it happen. The Duomo opens at 10 AM (seriously?) and closes at 4:30 AM. These are better than banker's hours. So, we were in line at 9:30 AM, about a third of the way around the church, figuring that when the doors opened, they immediately would let at least 100-150 people inside (have you seen the size of this place?), and we would be inside in no time. Somewhere, this logic was flawed. I think they let in groups of 20 people at a time, and we rattled around inside.

I took a few photos while we stood in line, distracting myself with the beauty of this city. Nearby buildings....

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...the Baptistry across the Piazza....

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Wait! 80 minutes in...we are in sight of the door...

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Why are the angels flanking the doorways so sad? Are they channeling the agitation of the hot tourists?

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And, then, after 90 minutes, we were inside this cavernous church! And I felt impelled to take a photo of EVERY attractive thing that I saw. There is a lot of empty space, and a lot of roped off areas....quite the contrast from Siena. There was a private Mass in English in a side chapel.

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And, just in case you might forget who paid for all this...

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The scenes on the cupola were interesting...

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But, 15 minutes is about all you need to do this justice.

By the way, if I ever start a tour company, this is what my clients are wearing...

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We went to the Central Market after our morning at the Duomo.

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We rewarded ourselves with pizza for lunch. No, we did not intentionally wear matching colors...we have limited clean laundry options.

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After lunch, we walked to Piazza Santa Maria Novella and viewed the exterior of the Church. We are officially "churched out."

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Our final stop was the Farmacia de Santa Maria Novella, a gorgeous shop that has been selling soaps, lotions, and perfumes for centuries.

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Charlie wanted a nap, so we came back to rest and pack up, as we head to Rome tomorrow. After all that pizza, we went out for gelato and called it dinner!

Photos are tagged Florence and Italy

Posted by Cybercsp 12:47 Archived in Italy Tagged italy florence Comments (1)

Florence - Day 16 Monday 9/16

Tom and his luggage are reunited!


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After breakfast, we parted ways. The Vallantes took a cab to Florence Airport to search for Tom's missing luggage (and were ultimately successful), and the Pashleys spent the morning around the Duomo. We started at the Museo Dell'Opera Del Duomo, which is an absolutely awesome museum dedicated to the history of the cathedral, and the artists that have contributed to it. This museum is considered to be second only to the Vatican Museum in its religious treasures.

The treasure of the museum is the original Ghiberti Baptistry doors.

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The facade of the Cathedral has changed as it has expanded, and the museum displays many statues that have been removed and preserved.

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One part of the Cathedral had panels depicting the different professions of the Florentines. Here is the shepherd.

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Famous Italian figures, like Leonardo, enjoyed a cameo at one time.

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There were rooms of gorgeous vestments...

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...reliquaries...

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...and how about this solid silver altar?

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Donatello's statue of Mary Magdalene is heart wrenching.

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Another treasure is the Pieta that Michelangelo designed for his tomb. He imposed his self-portrait as the face of Nicodemus, but did not complete the work, as he was unhappy with the marble. It is here in the museum.

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Here is a choir loft, and a panel from della Robbia's singing children.

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There was a highly informative film on the architectural wonder that is the Brunelleschi dome, with loads of architectural drawings and models to illustrate what a marvel it is.

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The top floor of the museum provides a great vantage point to admire it.

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We walked across the Piazza to enter the Baptistry, which is under indoor renovation, but we were able to view most of the beautiful ceiling.

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Here is the floor and the baptismal font.

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Next on the religious tour was a return to Orsanmichele; you saw Doubting Thomas on the outside, and now you can see the inside of the church.

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We climbed the very narrow staircase to the museum upstairs, which housed many statues, some under renovation.

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Then, one of us climbed to the next level, which afforded beautiful views of the city.

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At this point, we received a text message that the Vallante luggage reunion had occurred , and we met to celebrate with lunch at La Prosciutteria. These guys were very friendly, and the meat and cheese went from the slicer onto the sandwiches (which were enormous and delicious)!

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After lunch, we walked back to Santa Croce. Maureen and I visited the Cathedral, which is the resting place of many of Italy's most famous sons, including...

Michelangelo

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Galileo

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and Machiavelli, to name a few (more in the photo gallery)

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Santa Croce Cathedral was beautiful.

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The church sustained serious damage in the flooding of 1966, and Vasari's Last Supper needed significant restoration.

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The most significant damage was the destruction of Cimabue's Crucifixion. It hangs in the museum, and was restored to the best of their ability.

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We did a little shopping on our way back, and had gelato for dinner.

Photos are tagged Florence and Italy

Posted by Cybercsp 12:29 Archived in Italy Tagged italy florence Comments (0)

Florence - Day 15 Sunday 9/15

Morning reservations at the Galleria degli Uffizi


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Once we had decided to spend time in Florence, the first thing that we did was book 9 AM entry tickets to the Uffizi Gallery. (Whose idea do you suppose that was?). We had about a 20 minute walk to the gallery.

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I can think of many places where this concept would be a great idea.

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This was outside the Galileo Museum. While I cannot explain it, you might find it intriguing.

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We walked through the Piazza della Signoria, which was the center of political life in Florence. It is anchored by the Palazzo Vecchio, the town hall of Florence. Here are some exterior and interior views.

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This copy of Michelangelo's David was placed outside the Palazzo Vecchio as a symbol of the Republic's defiance of the tyrannical Medici.

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The fountain of Neptune celebrates the Medici's maritime ambitions, and has been beautifully restored since our last visit.

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The equestrian statue of Duke Cosimo I celebrates the man who brought all of Tuscany under Medici military rule.

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The Loggia dei Lanzi functions as an open-air sculpture gallery. The statue of Perseus holding Medusa's head was commissioned as a stark reminder of what would happen to those who crossed the Medici.

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Next to it is a commemoration of the Rape of the Sabine Women.

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This tribute to Leonardo DaVinci is new. We learned that it is to celebrate an exhibition that just opened, which celebrates Leonardo as a botanist. The dodecahedron, which represented the universe for the ancient Greeks and the Renaissance men of science, contains a Mulberry tree.

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Now, for the main event...The Uffizi is organized as a long labyrinth of rooms along a U-shaped Renaissance building, which was never created to be a museum. Cosimo de’ Medici commissioned architect Giorgio Vasari to create a grandiose building next to Palazzo Vecchio, which was the seat of power, to host the magistrates, guild masters, and judiciary offices (hence the name “Uffizi” which translates to "offices" in Italian). In 1769, this receptacle of the art treasures of the Medici was opened to the public. Here are Charlie and Maureen outside the gallery as we waited for our admission time slot.

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And here is your tour through Art History 101. See how many of these masterpieces that you recognize. Here are a few paintings...

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...and some sculpture.

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The building itself deserves your attention.

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...not to mention that the upper floors offer great views of the Ponte Vecchio.

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After three hours in an art museum, Charlie deserved a beer. We enjoyed some prime people watching in the Piazza della Signoria at the Rivoire.
I had the cappuccino, and here is the shop connected with the cafe.

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Tommy skipped the museum as he had hoped that his luggage would be delivered this morning, but that did not happen. He met us in the early afternoon at Piazza Santa Croce. The line to enter the church was ridiculously long, so Tom and Charlie had a beer while Maureen and I did some poking around the leather shops. Here is the Santa Croce Cathedral...

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...and the Piazza.

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We had to stop in a Pinocchio shop.

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After a mid-afternoon gelato break, we walked to Piazza San Lorenzo to see the church (which unfortunately was closed) and visit some leather shops. The second photo is the Florence leather school that is located in a monastery. The goods were beautiful, but the prices were astronomical.

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Dinner tonight was at Il Santo Bevitore. We started with appetizers of local meats and cheeses...

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...and Maureen and Tom each had beef, Charlie had suckling pig, and I had rigatoni in goose ragout. All delicious!

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Photos are tagged Florence and Italy

Posted by Cybercsp 01:18 Archived in Italy Tagged italy florence Comments (1)

Florence - Day 14 Saturday 9/14

Why Florence?


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In Medieval times, Florence was a center of European trade and finance and one of the wealthiest cities of the era. It is considered by many to be the birthplace of the Renaissance, and has been called "the Athens of the Middle Ages." Florence has a famous turbulent political history , which included periods of rule by the powerful Medici family. From 1865 to 1871, Florence served as the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. In addition, UNESCO declared the Historic Center of Florence a World Heritage Site in 1982. The treasure trove of art is beyond compare. We have visited Florence twice before while on organized tours, and wanted to return to be able to chart our own course and approach the city in a "less rushed" manner.

DId I mention that the lure of its leather goods (for this girl) cannot be understated?

There are two trains to Florence that depart daily from the airport, and we were on the 11 AM train. Not every train ride affords such historic views (these are of Rome and sorry that the train windows were filthy).

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We are trying something new on this trip. Instead of booking hotels, we are using Vacation Rentals By Owner. Here are some views of our apartment.

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After settling in, we went out on a walking junket. Here is our first glimpse of the Duomo as we rounded the corner.

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The building is so massive that it is impossible to capture more than parts of it in one frame...so here are pieces of the Duomo for your viewing pleasure.

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Across the way is the Baptistry, with the famous doors designed and carved by Ghiberti. They are known as the Gates of Paradise, because Michelangelo reportedly said that he believed that the doors were so magnificent that they might well be found at the entrance to Paradise.

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We walked by the Church of Orsanmichele.. This niche was considered to be revolutionary, as the foot of Doubting Thomas extends beyond the base, which was radical for the time. (Thank you Art History 101).

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Here are a few scenes as we walked to dinner across the Arno River, in Piazza Santo Spirito.

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And a few more from our walk home.

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We put a lot of miles on these feet today!

No luggage yet for Tommy.

Photos are tagged Florence and Italy

Posted by Cybercsp 14:04 Archived in Italy Tagged italy florence Comments (0)

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