Tag Archives: Florence Cathedral

Florence Days 10 and 11

“Oh to be in Florence now that October’s here”
With apologies to Robert Browning
(Home Thoughts From Abroad)

Michelangelo

I have had without any doubt, the most magical day here in Florence.  It started as usual, call from NZ, tepid shower followed by macchiato and brioche at my favourite local pasticerria, I had no real plans for the day so I jumped on a bus and went into town.  I walked through the station and checked out trains to Sienna.  They leave at ten minutes past the hour every hour.  So then I checked out how to buy a ticket from the automatic machines and so I am all set for when I decide to go there.

Then ambling out of the station I saw a big red double-decker City Sightseeing bus.  For just 20 Euros you can have a day sightseeing, jumping on and off as many times as you like.  This seemed like a good idea and so I bought a ticket and hopped on.  There is a constant commentary about the tour giving you advice on which stops to get off to see particular attractions.

Piazza Michelangelo

I stayed on until we reached Piazzale Michelangelo.  I was totally amazed/blown away/awe-struck at the sight that confronted me.  Spread out before me was Florence and from this high vantage point it all looked like Lilliput but clearly defined, and with the Tuscan countryside spreading out behind it like a theatrical backdrop.

Il DuomoDistant viewFlorence3

Of course I took scads of photos to bore everyone with when I eventually get home; but oh, it was a truly wondrous sight.

Lunch

Lunch today was taken at a table overlooking the Duomo and all of Florence.  I ordered a Pizza e funghi (mushroom pizza) e acqua frizzante (sparkling water).  And as I sat in the sunshine looking at that view I experienced one of those rare moments of pure joy, knowing I was exactly where I was meant to be at that particular moment in time. My pizza and water tasted like manna from heaven  because of that.

Lunch

Signora enjoying wine and nibbles in the sunshine

Sitting there in the sunshine soaking up the sights of this most magical city and the sounds of the many different tongues, it wouldn’t be too fanciful to say that I was drunk with life without ever having had a glass of wine.

Road to the Forte

After a time I tore myself away from this place that will from now on be my favourite place in Florence and got on the bus.  But this was not the tourist bus but a regular one.  I got off at the stop for Forte Belvedere.  There was a sign to walk to the Forte so I set off.  This led me down a narrow street lined on each side with large houses protected behind high gates.  The road was hardly wide enough for a car to pass me without hitting me.  So I walked and walked in the hot sunshine but nobody told me that the Forte was closed while they dismantled an exhibition.  “L’Anima e la Materia/Soul and Matter” is the largest exhibition ever organised in Italy for the Chinese artist Zhang Huan. The exhibition closed on the 13 October.  So I walked on and found the Bardini Mansion and Gardens.

Florence Day 10 064

Villa Bardini Gardens

Villa Bardini Gardens

View from the terrace Villa Bardini

View from the terrace Villa Bardini

There as an exhibition “The Renaissance from Florence to Paris and back” described as “Treasures of the Jacuemart-Andre Museum return home.  The treasures were housed in three rooms of this palatial  villa and included works by Botticelli, Donatello, Mantegna and Paolo Uccello.  How lucky was I to be here in Florence at this time.  The exhibition closes at the end of the year.

Monopoly Italian style

Monopoly Italian style

When I peeped into another room I saw this game of Monopoly all set up and ready to go.

From there I wandered into the Barboli Gardens but I must say that after the splendours of the Bardini, the gardens left me feeling rather flat.  And then the battery ran out in the camera.  I had forgotten to recharge it the night before.  So no more pictures today.

I left the Gardens and hopped onto yet another bus.  I must say that I am getting very confident about bus travel here in Florence.  When I got off the bus I saw that the sightseeing bus was pulling to a stop and as I hadn’t gone all the way around I thought I would jump on it.   And this was a bonus.  I hadn’t realised that there were three different routes the buses took and I was on the one that went through Florence and up to the little hillside village of Fiesole.

Fiesle ampitheatre

via Wikipedia

This charming little village overlooking Florence predates Florence by some eight centuries; it was an Etruscan city well before the Romans colonised the city. In the 19th century it was a favourite haunt of many Upper Class English people including the poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

We stopped only for 15 minutes so no time to inspect the Roman Ampitheatre or the Cathedral which we are told, has its own dome.  Really will try to get back there again before I leave.

And so once again being deposited at the station, I found my weary way back to the apartment at the end of a lovely day – one that will stay with me for many years I am sure.

And apologies, I was so tired after being out for 8 hours that I typed half this blog, fell asleep and had to finish it today.

____________

Day 11

After all the excitement of yesterday I decided to have a quiet day today.

My day started with a long Skype conversation – don’t you just love Skype and then I had my usual tepid shower.

I gave up battling with the darned washing machine.  I don’t know how that woman made it work but I can’t, so the washing was done by hand and is drying on a drying stand.

I can’t resist going into the centre of town and so I did so and wandered around the streets that are becoming so familiar to me now.  I did some people watching and listening to.  How fascinating when one really can’t understand what is being said, but often from the inflections and the hand movements one can make a pretty good guess.

Not so many people queuing to get into the Dome

Not so many people queuing to get into the Dome of the Duomo

Something that I became aware of early in my stay was the attention paid to window displays and the interior of some shops

Beautifully dressed window

inside shop

Shop interior

By this time it was around 3 pm so lunch was called for.  I found a little restaurant in one of the streets leading from the Piazza Duomo called Buca Niccolini.  Here I ordered Gnocchi ai quartro formaggi (gnocchi with four cheeses)  The gnocchi which my hostess assured me was “Fatta en cassa” or homemade, was fabulous.

Gnocchi ith four cheeses

I left the restaurant t0 make my way to the stazzione when I saw this

Bride and groomSuch a beautiful young couple with their whole lives in front of them.  I wished them “Una vita felice e auguri” a happy life and best wishes even though it was not said out loud.

So that rounded off another day in this wonderful city.

“In the end, only three things matter:
how much you loved,
how gently you lived,
and how gracefully you let go
of things not meant for you.”
-Buddha

Florence Day 8

I woke this morning to the sound of road rollers (we used to call them steamrollers when I was growing up) outside the bedroom window and loud voices shouting to each other in Italian.  A lovely language no doubt but not what one wants to hear so early in the morning.

A call from New Zealand and a tepid shower had me dressed and wondering what to do today.  However, it was raining hard and it was cold so I decided that as I wasn’t pressed for time here in Florence I would have a lazy day and maybe go out once the rain stopped.

About an hour later there was a ring on the door bell to announce the arrival of Ornella (the mother of the owner) and her friend Rosanna.  They had come to see about the lavatrice (washing machine),  Well wouldn’t you know it. – Ornella plugged the electric cord in, pushed the same buttons that three other adults had pushed a couple of days ago and lo and behold the dashed machine started to work.  Ornella called over the dividing wall the to the neighbour in not too friendly terms and I thought Rosanna was telling me that she Ornella had come from Rome to sort this out.  I must have been mistaken.  I did know that she was going to Rome last Tuesday for a few days so maybe she had just returned today.

There followed stilted conversation mostly in Italian during which Ornella told me that the artwork/paintings in the apartment were hers, the embroidered panel on the wall was hers as were the other knick knacks around the place. I told her that I couldn’t paint or even thread a needle which brought smiles of disbelief.  And then after much kissing of cheeks and many ciaos, grazies, pregos and I think promises to keep in touch they departed.

No sooner had they left than the  postman called.  This conversation was a trifle more difficult to follow.  But as I understood it he had a letter for Ornella and no he couldn’t give it to me but he would come back domani (tomorrow).  I tried in my stilted fashion to tell him lei non qui ( I think that is she not here). but he smiled and said grazie e domani.  So no doubt if I am here in the morning when he comes we shall go through the whole thing again,  Isn’t it fun being in a country with such a very limited vocabulary.

In the event the rain didn’t let up until around 4 pm at which time I took myself  off to the supermercado to buy something for dinner.

So apologies no photos from today.  But I am sure there will be more tomorrow.

And here is my rainbow for those of you who need a little cheer in your life,  I hope you are all as happy as I am.

Rainbow

My rainbow

So I had an

 

Florence Days 6 and 7

Apologies, after another long day I as too tired to write my blog yesterday so am combining the two days here.

Day 6 – Saturday

After the usual call from New Zealand I decided to have an easy day here and so didn’t leave the apartment until after 12 noon.  I got my usual greetings from the girls in the  passticerria “Ciao.  Come sta?” And “macchiato e brioche” I settled down for breakfast.

There was a different group of people there yesterday.  Locals obviously enjoying an easy start to the weekend.  A few acknowledged me with a smile and an occasional “Ciao” to which I bravely responded “Ciao”.

Then the bus, but horrors I was on the wrong bus.  The driver assured me he was going to the stazione but when the bus took a different turn, I was sure he was going to some other stazione.  But it turned out well because it stopped at the other side of the main station so I knew where I was after all.Queues at the DuomoA wander around the now familiar streets and I came to the Duomo.  The crowds here today were unbelievable; even the Cathedral itself (not the Dome or the Campanile) had a very long queue so I was glad that I had already visited it earlier in the week.

The plan had been to go to the Ponte Vecchio but what do we know about the best laid plans.  I ended up in a warren of little streets, each one holding a treasure for me.

Door decration

Door handlesDoors with fascinating door handles

School Leonardo da Vincithe School of Leonardo da Vinci

Floremce Day 6 005a Salumi (charcuterie)

Floremce Day 6 007and the same shop inside

Floremce Day 6 020

Shop InteriorA beautiful little shop full of magical smells and beautiful things

Panelled doorrA screen that I think was of beaten gold leaf

All these wonders were laid out for my edification.

Restaurant

I found a pizzeria in a back street, Gusto Leo where I had the most enormous calzone – prosciutto e funghi e mozzarella (ham, mushrooms and mozzarella) and acqua frizzante (sparkling water).  How the vocabulary is improving if only so that I can order food!

Lunch

Then refreshed and replete, I wandered on to the Mercato Nuovo (New Market).  A market has existed here since the 11th century, and the “new” current arcade was built in the mid 16th century for the sale of silk and gold.  Now it is mostly sales of leather goods, and I was agog at what was on offer.  Beautiful Italian leather goods, purses, wallets and bags that would make one want to throw out everything they had and start again.  It is possible to buy good leather articles from the market vendors but the products in these shops are beautifully displayed and demand one goes in if even only to touch and look.

Then having bought a few things for gits to take home to family and friends, I got the usual bus back.  But this time, because of the crush of people on the bus the doors closed before I could get off and I was taken to the next stop.  Cries of Basta! Basta! brought no reaction from the driver.

Fortunately, it was a straight and short step back to the area I know.  But there is an upside to this – I found a very large pet shop – large as the local supermarket here – where I found a new red collar for the Beautiful Miss Bella adorned with bling.  Italians seem to be overly fond of their animals.  The entry floor to this shop was filled with rows of different animal food and down below there was all manner of accessories for your pet, aquaria with and without inhabitants, and anything you could want for four-legged or swimming and slithering beings.

So to Day 7 – Sunday

An even later start to this day.  I awoke around 8 am.  The building was quiet; no voices from other apartments and no road works outside.  But it looks as if the serious work is about to begin with these road rollers sitting waiting to be used.

Road rollers

I decided to have an easy day so after a Skype call from home and another tepid shower I started the day with my usual call into the  passticerria but as it was now well after breakfast time instead of a brioche I had a lovely apple turnover.  The pastry was so light it almost melted in one’s mouth.  What a good way to start the day – an apple pastry and a macchiato.

Breakfast

I wandered aimlessly today, people watching and window shopping.  The crowds had increased yet again and so there was a panoply of languages to assail the ears.  I heard a few words of English but not many,  And the lyrical Italian was all around me – definitely music to the ears.

I found the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in a little unimposing building in a side street.  Here were replicas of da Vinci’s working models.  Unfortunately WordPress is now having a hissy fit and I can’t upload any more photos at present.  So I am sorry words will have to do.

Amongst the models was one of a printing press, an armored tank, an olive press, an air screw, a paddle boat and a study of a flying machine.  Incredible when one remembers that this was in the 15th Century.

I discovered more interesting door handles, peeps of church spires at the end of small streets, lovely buildings that bear no notification of what they are and of course, more statues.  And street art is everywhere, a few beggars and people trailing small dogs with them.

Another walk through the market and then the bus ride back to the apartment and another busy day in this magical city came to an end.

 

 

 

Florence Day 2

London and Florence 062 I was woken up early this morning by the workmen who are digging up and (presumably) re-sealing the road outside the bedroom window.  This started around 7 am and now at 5pm they are still drilling.  Maybe they get paid by the hour.

That was followed by a long call on Skype to my partner in New Zealand.  Oh how very far away that is.

Then into the shower – another tepid one asI just can’t get the hot water to flow  Really have to do something about this.

Then Day 2 in Florence started. The sun was shining brightly and I was really pleased with myself :

  1. I found again the market that Ornella had shown me when I arrived on Sunday.  It’s a seven-day market apparently selling food and clothes.  It was very busy.
  2. I found a passticerria close by where I had a macchiato and a brioche for breakfast
  3. I got on the right autobus to take me to the stazione from where it was only a short walk to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Fiore (The Doumo)
  4. Found JK’s on the piazza for an elegant late lunch, then
  5. Found my way back again.

The woman at the bus stop spoke no English but we managed to communicate as I did with the two bus drivers.  It was a little more tense coming back because I had to look for something recognisable.  And it was the market.  So I jumped off the bus and almost got run over by a police car.  Many years ago I had a ticket for jay walking in Santa Monica, California and I really thought I might get another today.  But the policeman simply said “andare, andare” which I took to mean go!

Lunch at JK's Florence 2And lunch..  All the tables on the piazza were reserved but the charming maitre d’ (what is Italian for that)  suggested I might like to eat inside.  And what a joy that was.  There are several photos at the end of this missive.  It was like a beautiful home open for lunch and dinner.  I had sesame chicken salad, served with oil and balsamic vinegar, preceded by a basket of bread and  rolls and oil for dipping.  Heaven.  It was  rounded off with a pot of Twining s tea with lemon so my meal was a complete success.  I decided then that I wouldn’t need dinner just some fruit that I had bought yesterday and a couple of brioche from the same passticerria.  So I am all set.

Here are a few photos I took today.  I am sure you don’t need to see all 55 of them.

London and Florence 017London and Florence 012London and Florence 013At the market

London and Florence 019 London and Florence 048London and Florence 026The Duomo

London and Florence 057 London and Florence 058 London and Florence 059JK’s on the Piazza Duoumo

So another day in Florence comes to an end.  I shall sit and read my book as there is no English TV programme available here. Well maybe there is but not in this apartment.