Arriving in Florence, I knew that the apartment we had rented had an awesome view of the Duomo, but seriously, I had no idea just how close we were. The caretaker of the apartment had shut all of the shades for our arrival, and would not let us peek out until she had shown us the rest of the apartment — “No no! It’s a surprise!”, she said to Jeff as he tried to peek through a shutter. When she finally let us step onto the balcony we were speechless. It felt like we could touch that engineering marvel of a dome. Not only did we see it out of our window as we fell asleep but we were awakened by it’s bell tower in the morning. Not a bad way to start the day! (And I have to add, that this apartment was a bargain compared to what we would have paid for a hotel. If you’re going to Florence, let me know and I’ll tell you how to find it).
The magnificence of the Duomo absolutely took the girls by surprise with its intricate carvings, pink and green marble, and Brunelleschi’s amazing dome that took 200 years to complete.
When we told anyone that we were going to Florence, they asked if we were going to visit the Uffizi. I had seen Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” years ago, and I would have loved for the kids to see it. But honestly, while they appreicate art, they do not love art museums. All they think of is the oppressive crowds we encountered at the Louvre, where they couldn’t leave fast enough. The best thing about Florence is that while you can see plenty of beautiful art in the environment for which it was created (churches!), there is a real artist culture throughout the city. From the breathtaking paintings inside Santa Croce, to modern day artisans in their workshops and studios, to the high fashion in the boutique windows, to the incredible chalk artists and street performers too. All together a good lesson that art comes in many different forms.
On the other side of the Ponte Vecchio is the wonderful Oltrarno — a neigborhood of artist studios and narrow streets. The highlight of our walk there was visiting the studio of Giuliano Ricci, who creates metal jewelry, frames, card cases, etc., for the likes of Neiman Marcus and Christian Dior, but sells it for more than reasonable prices from his shop. While he spoke very little English, and we spoke about five words of Italian, we managed to communicate for quite some time as he showed us his work, and took us into the tiny basement where he has been creating his art for 52 years.
We visited so many churches during our trip that I’m problably caught up from going to church so rarely at home. The girls quickly came to realize that not only were their interiors beautiful and peaceful, but they were an escape from the heat and a great place to rest our feet. I think Santa Croce may have been my favorite church of all.
Here are the girls hanging out in the cloisters of Santa Croce.
Here are the girls in front of Buca Mario, the restaurant where Jeff and I first ate fifteen years ago. The gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce was as good as I remembered!
We had just two days in Florence, but we covered a lot of ground. I had forgotten how beautiful it was.
But with all the beauty of Florence, I was not prepared for the magic of Venice… our next and final stop so stay tuned! (And if you haven’t seen my post on Rome, click here!)
AirBNB: The view from this apartment can’t be beat and the location is great. The apartment isn’t perfect but, it’s in a very secure building, is fairly spacious and we were sold by he location. It doesn’t have the best most fully equipped kitchen but we really didn’t use it: The bathroom has been updated since we were there so that is a plus too: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2093260