Aug 24, 2004
I’m writing the fourth installment to my
journal, though since we’ll be home in four days, I won’t mail this,
but hand deliver it. We have spent the last three days in Florence
(Firenze). We were very fortunate, weather-wise. It was about 95
degrees the day we arrived but cooled down a lot the next day, then was
not too warm (but very nice) the last two days. I am writing this at
the train station as we are waiting for our train to Venice.
The historic part of Firenze is all in a
rather small compact area. So we had no problem walking to all of the
sights. Much was built in the 1200's and much of the art is from the
1200's and 1300's, Renaissance style. Many churches, palaces and
squares. We toured so much that Mark said “no more museums.” I enjoy
looking at old things, imagining life back then.
[After arriving in Firenze on Friday, we
checked into our B&B, the Old Florence Inn. Then we walked around
the city center. Everything was closed but we saw the outside of S.
Maria d. Fiore (the Duomo), S. Croce, the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace)
and the Piazza della Signoria. We had dinner at a small outdoor
restaurant right on the Piazza della Signoria.]
[On Saturday, we visited (actually went inside) the
Duomo and Santa Croce. S. Croce is the burial site of the rich and
famous of the Renaissance including Dante Alighieri , Niccolo
Machiavelli, Gioacchino Rossini and Galileo
Galilei . In the afternoon,
we visited the Galleria degli Uffizi.]
The Old Palace (Palazzo Vecchio) now the city hall building.
Fake David (the original was moved into the Accademia over 100 years
ago - although it sat outside for 275 years!
The Uffizi is on the 2nd and 3rd floors of this "U" shaped building.
We tried to find restaurants to get a taste of
the local cuisine. In our tour guide book, we saw a dish called
“ribollita” which was soup made with bread, tomatoes, cabbage, and
onions. We found a restaurant that served it and it was delicious.
We have found everything in Italy to be very
expensive (more expensive than in the U.S.). The couple of Italians we
spoke to that spoke very good English were able to tell us that the
times have never been worse, economically. We were wondering how they
could afford to buy these products. They said that when the Lira
changed to the Euro, that their wages were cut in half to compensate
for the change in value but the products did not do the same. They also
indicated that their government is messed-up right now.
[On Sunday, we went to the Accademia Museum,
the location of the statue of David by Michelangelo. We walked to the
Pitti Palace (which was just closing) and then sat on the Ponte Vecchio
for a while watching the passing crowd and listening to street
musicians. We had dinner, again outdoor, at the Piazza della Republica.]
Sally in front of the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge)
Hordes of tourists on the Ponte Vecchio
Street Vendors in Florence
[The street vendors we saw in Rome and
Florence (and a few in Venice) sold a few basic things:
Small birds made of palm fronds
Little remote control cars
Your name written in a "Chinese" looking script
Even on one block, you would see 2-3 vendors
selling the same things. They were unlicensed and we could tell they
were always on the lookout for the police. Their "wares" were such that
they could pick everything up and move if they saw a policeman coming
down the street. The police did this regularly but did not seem to want
to catch them. As soon as the police were gone, the street vendors
would setup shop again in a few minutes.
In addition to these vendors, there were
licensed vendors who had their wares setup on large trailer like carts.]
Street Vendors in Florence
Yesterday, Mark climbed to the top of the dome
in the largest church I have ever seen (the Duomo). He got some
pictures of Florence from the top. While he was doing that, I went to
yet one more museum to see the art from the 1800's and early 1900's
along with a display of clothing worn from 500's on.
Inside the dome of the Duomo
Panorama looking south from the top of the Duomo.
Panorama looking west from the top of the Duomo.
Yesterday afternoon, to take a break from
churches and museums, we took a bus tour out to the Tuscany region
(wine country). We were taken to an old fortress built in the 1200's
that is now a winery. We did some wine tasting and had a few snacks.
[Everything in Italy does center around food.]
We’re both getting very worn out, but looking
forward to our last stay in Venice. We miss you all very much!
EuroStar train in the Florence Train Station
[Mark bought train tickets for Venezia and we
await the arrival of the train.]
Love, Sal & Mark