Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mediterranean ~ Day 4, Part I

Day 4 of early rising...
Aboard another sleeper style bus and off to the fabulous city of FLORENCE, ITALY!

The drive there reminded me of scenes from the movie, Letters to Juliet

Florence is located in central Italy and is the capital city of Tuscany. It is Tuscany's most populous city with over 360,000 inhabitants. The city lies on the River Arno surrounded by gentle hills. It is internationally famous for its beautiful city center that looks like an open-air museum. Because of its monuments, churches and palaces, Florence Italy's historical center is a classified as a World Heritage Site.
For some reason, I totally dig shots of laundry hanging - I loved showing my kids that not everyone has the privilege of having a dryer!
As you can see from my 1,000 + pictures - Cycles are Hot to Trot in many European citites!
They even have entire stores dedicated to cycle gear!
Right after passing the store, here's what came our way...even chicks in short skirts were cruisin' around town! I think I may dump the 'burb for one of these bad boys!!
Beautiful Arches
Tour drop off - this was by far the busiest place we had been yet! 

Indipendenza Square

Indipendenza SquareIndependence Public square is situated in the heart of the historical center of Florence and is easy to reach from main railway station of Santa Maria Novella.
In the center of the Public square we find 
monuments dedicates to Ubaldino Peruzzi of 1897 and Bettino Ricasoli of 1897

In Florence you can experience the splendor of the Renaissance and visit some of the most beautiful Italian museums such as the Uffizi Gallery and the Academy Gallery where you can admire David's by Michelangelo, see universally known Florentine landmarks such as Ponte Vecchio, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo) and much more.

Guess what I start noticing...DOORS!
and more doors...

and MORE doors....
Then, we hit the super amazing 
Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (English: Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flowers) is the cathedral church (Duomo) of FlorenceItaly, begun in 1296 in the Gothic style to the design of Arnolfo di Cambio and completed structurally in 1436 with the dome engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi
The Duomo, Florence's cathedral. The cupola seen in the fog above dominates the skyline view of the city of Florence.  Brunelleschi was the architect/designer, and the dome served as an inspiration for Michelangelo's St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome and the U.S. capital building in Washington, D.C. The exterior of the cathedral is covered in pink and green marble, and has a wonderful look. Since the interior of the cupola was covered with murals.

If I could only describe the intricacy of the artwork on everything we saw...
The Baptistery in Florence is part of the Duomo complex, which includes the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Campanile. Historians believe that construction of the Baptistery, also known as Battistero San Giovanni or Saint John’s Baptistery, began in 1059, making it one of the oldest buildings in Florence.

The octagon-shaped Baptistery is best known for its bronze doors, which feature exquisitely carved depictions of scenes from the Bible. Andrea Pisano designed the south doors, the first set of doors commissioned for the Baptistery. The south doors feature 28 bronze reliefs: the 20 upper reliefs show scenes from the life of St. John the Baptist and eight lower reliefs contain representations of virtues, such as Prudence and Fortitude. Pisano’s doors were mounted on the south entrance of the Baptistery in 1336.

Because of Ghiberti’s success in designing the Baptistery’s north doors, the Calimala Guild commissioned him to design the east doors, which face the Duomo. These doors were cast in bronze, partially gilded, and took Ghiberti 27 years to complete. In fact, the east doors surpassed the beauty and artistry of Ghiberti’s north doors, prompting Michelangelo to name the doors the “Gates of Paradise.” The “Gates of Paradise” contain only 10 panels and show 10 very detailed biblical scenes and characters, including “Adam and Eve in Paradise,” “Noah,” “Moses,” and “David.” The Gates of Paradise were erected at the east entrance of the Baptistery in 1452.

Lorenzo Ghiberti is the artist most associated with the Baptistery doors because he and his workshop designed the building’s north and east doors. In 1401, Ghiberti won a competition to design the north doors. The famous contest, held by Florence’s Wool Merchants’ Guild (Arte di Calimala), pitted Ghiberti against Filippo Brunelleschi, who would go on to become the architect of the Duomo. The north doors are similar to Pisano’s south doors, in that they feature 28 panels. The top 20 panels show the life of Jesus, from the “Annunciation” to the “Miracle of Pentecost”; below these are eight panels depicting saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Ambrose, Jerome, Gregory, and Augustine. Ghiberti began working on the north doors in 1403 and they were placed at the north entrance of the Baptistery in 1424.
The cathedral complex, located in Piazza del Duomo, includes the Baptistery and Giotto's Campanile. The three buildings are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site covering the historic centre of Florence and are a major attraction to tourists visiting the region of Tuscany. The basilica is one of Italy's largest churches, and until the modern era, the dome was the largest in the world. It remains the largest brick dome ever constructed.

One of many souvenir shops along the streets
Candy Store
One thing that Blondie took forever to figure out was that "Florence" was "Firenze" in Italian

Italy is famous for it's could smell leather wafting in the air

Some designer shopping

The Ultimate Masterpiece: The David Statue

"In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it."—Michelangelo

Hercules and Cacusby Bandinelli (16th century) - Palazzo Vecchio

Perseus, with a curved sword, a gift of Mercury, wears winged sandals, like Mercury's, and a helmet with wings. Although blood gushes from the severed head of Medusa, this sensational subject is not treated with horror or drama.

Everywhere we turned, more statues!
The collection of works in the Uffizi Gallery cannot be compared to any other world collection and is probably the only one to have just masterpieces of exceptional value.

                                    Uffizi Gallery - Florence

The Uffizi is the most important and visited museum in Florence. The Uffizi palace was designed and begun in 1560 by the architect Giorgio Vasari.
The Uffizi Gallery museum is among the most visited in Italy, with over 1.5 million visitors each year.
Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo was and is best known as an artist, the creator of such masterpieces as the Mona Lisa, Madonna of the Rocks, and The Last Supper. Yet Leonardo was far more than a great artist: he had one of the best scientific minds of his time.
Time to move on to the next landmark...see our tour guide holding the #8 sign?
Then, look to your right and what do you see??
We are in Italy after all... :-)

In one of the squares there were many local artists...I found this one's masterpiece quite interesting!

This is one of the most famous museums of paintings and sculpture in the world. Its collection of Primitive and Renaissance paintings comprises several universally acclaimed masterpieces of all time, including works by Giotto, Simone Martini, Piero della Francesca, Fra Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Mantegna, Correggio, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio. German, Dutch and Flemish masters are also well represented with important works by Dürer, Rembrandt and Rubens.

trat·to·ri·a  (trät-r)

An informal restaurant or tavern serving simple Italian dishes.

One of the MOST BEAUTIFUL sites of our entire trip!!!
The Arno is a river in the Tuscany region of Italy. It is the most important river of central Italy after the Tiber.

It is for good luck in love, you put the lock in the post and then you trow the key in the river. You and your lover will stay together.
Truly out of a movie...

More Laundry...

Self Serve Vino :-)

Tons of hand painted beautiful!
(and the artist would sit in the back on the store painting a new piece!)
The Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) was rebuilt for the Franciscan order in 1294 by Arnolfo di Cambio, is the burial place for the great and good in Florence. Michelangelo is buried in Santa Croce, as are Rossini,Machiavelli, and the Pisan-born Galileo Galilei, who was tried by the Inquisition and was not allowed a Christian burial until 1737, 95 years after his death. There is also a memorial to Dante.

We saw all of this prior to lunch...WOWSA!
The restaurant Il Rubaconte lies in the heart of Florence: it is an oasis of peace where you can spend a nice evening enjoying our dishes as well as our friendly, intimate atmosphere.
The restaurant provides large halls, all at the same level, and can seat many guests. Therefore, it is the ideal location for a romantic candlelight dinner, for your business lunch or dinner, or for tourist groups.
Every Italian lunch included a bottle of's was a nice, easy red!
Oh - and a flute of champagne too!!
One of the STRANGEST things that I experienced during my 3 days touring Italy was what their *traditional lunch was like...soooo far from the vision of Italian Cuisine that I had!
What I thought was our 1st course...a white sauce lasagna - was actually our appetizer!
After filling up on this incredibly rich pasta dish, we are then brought a 2nd plate...
Veal with a tomato sauce, potatoes and spinach.
Apparently, Italians eat their biggest meal at lunch and then a light dinner - which funny enough, is the same thing I do at home. I just didn't expect to do it there! And in that fashion!
The restaurant Il Rubaconte boasts a wide choice of traditional Tuscan dishes: furthermore, it is renowned for its home-made pasta and patisserie, a guarantee of quality and freshness.
Dishes are prepared using top-quality ingredients, personally selected by our chef from local producers. Home-made pasta, T-bone steak, veal tongue mille-feuille, and the traditional “Ribollita” are only some of the dishes.
Dessert consisted of a mini cup of coffee (expresso in Italy), along with a very mild flavored moist cake - wasn't crazy about either
In honor of my Mom "Donna"'s the restaurant's signage for the women's bathroom! :-)
A few more shots on our way out of Florence

*Live, and I mean ALIVE statues
They would periodically move to wow the crowd!

Super Chic Italian Payphone 
Time for my Honey and I to jump on our ride and head to PISA!

1 comment:

momof3girls said...

It looks like it really was a trip of a lifetime. Who knew laundry hanging on a line could be so pretty:)