Firenze! Oh, vibrant Florence; it’s the only place where I’ve seen downright merriment propelling a late-night protest, where the people marching through the streets sang the city’s unofficial anthem, “Bella Ciao” while waving flags and drinking wine. The Florentines are a proud, vibrant, and exhuberant bunch, and I suppose growing up in the cradle of art, the birthplace of the Italian language (Dante was a Florentine, after all, so when he chose the vernacular dialect to write the Inferno he used his home city’s slang), and, well, the whole birthplace of the Renaissance. You have to go to the Uffizi, if for no other reason than to see the little angel-playing-guitar painting (Rosso il Fiorentino’s “Musical Angel,” if you must know), nevermind the Bottecelli’s, da Vinci’s, Michelangelo’s, etc. And marvel at Michelangelo’s David at La Galleria dell’Accademia; go all out and visit Donatello’s version at the Bargello while you’re “arting.” There are so many wonderful museums in Florence, and you should definitley get to a few, but it’s worth getting out into the city as well, as it’s architecture and layout are a work of art in themselves. The Duomo is the center to the city, and if you get lost, just ask “dove duomo?” (doe-vay) and you’ll get pointed in the right direction; atop the Duomo are great views of the city, but a hillside hike will afford a quieter panorama.
You’re guarunteed a good time as you prowl around the Medici compound, and touring their home is very worthwhile; you must see Michelangelo’s intended grave marker, “Dusk and Dawn” at Basilica di San Lorenzo, which is housed in a chapel where Michelangelo stayed while in exile, and some of his pencil sketches on the walls are still preserved; the tension and vitality of art in Florence can be seen, metaphorically, in the fever in these harried sketches. Via de’ Cerretani and Piazza della Signoria were some of my favorite parts of the city, but there are plenty winding streets and piazzas to keep you entertained. Wind around the Arno and grab some good leather, or just roam around the city taking in the buzz of the city. Check out Santa Croce for handmade (and well-priced) leather goods, and a look inside the Baptistry – untouched by the reformation – and notice that Jesus always shuns with his left hand in Italian art. Now learn that “left” in Italian is sinistra, i.e., the “sinister.” This language insight is also a cultural one; even if you visit the Serial Killer Museum (bizarre) you will feel the creative energy of Florence. Take it in, ask someone to teach you the song (they will), sample the house wines and gorge on the food -oh! the food! – and perhaps a little of Florence’s magic dust will fall on you.
Filed under: Europe | Tagged: Arno, Arno River, Baptistry, Bargello, Basilica di San Lorenzo, Bella Ciao, Bottecelli, Catholic, Dante, David, Donatello, dove duomo, Dusk and Dawn, Dusk and Day, Firenze, Florence, house wine, Inferno, Italian, Italy, Jesus, La Galleria dell'Accademia, leather, left, Michelangelo, Musical Angel, Piazza della Signora, protests, Raphael, Rosso il Fiorentino, Santa Croce, Serial killer museum, sinistra, Uffizi, Via de'Cerretani, wine | Leave a Comment »