Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Florence - Part I

Florence was the first stop to my mini European tour  . . . I had known about it since I was in Sumba as I was to go over for Vittorio Moltedo's wedding, however, I only really acted upon it the day before I was to leave! Thank goodness for impulse and going with the flow, it was amazing and it's always wonderful to see everyone again . . .  

view from hotel room

It certainly was a blast . . . 

Dawn and I
John, Giovanna and Sara

Vittorio, Gabe and Stephan

Fab, Gabe and Daniel

Daniel's American Psycho moment at Villa Bardini

John and I

It was my first time in Florence thus I had no idea really what to expect, once the wedding festivities were over, it was time for me to explore.  What was evident early on was that one could devote a lifetime to studying Florentine history, architecture and art - the Medicis really did bestow on Florence so much and the collective of wise, learned, renaissance men that were Florentine back then was crazy. . . it is pretty mind boggling.  I really only skimmed the surfaces if that .  . . what it made me think over and over again is how great MAN can be, we are capable of so much good, and so much beauty yet we sometimes seem content to just destroy each other.

. . . there is so much light in Florence, I suppose a Renaissance city should not be anything less. . . 

Part of my cultural experience was to climb to the top of the Duomo.  
This was the view, worthy of a post card especially with the Tuscan landscape in the back.

top of the world


part of the climb 

There are so many churches, so many beautifulu streets and squares, I felt inspired everyday . . .and it was not intimidating or majestic in anyway.  Comfortable and beautiful with a sense of familiarity yet immersed in history. Just walking out of the Gabe's apartment, down street that leads up the bridge . . . was objectively pretty - not dramatic, pretty.  

I loved that Gabriel lives on the left bank, the little shops outside his door were very cute and I adored that we were just a stone's throw away Santo Sprito square as well as the best paper shop I have been to in a long time called Giannini just outside the Palazzo Pitti.  Handmade marbled paper, leather bound vintage paper, old school accounting books . . .looooved.

view outside the apartment

view of ponte vecchio from the bridge i crossed everyday

Bizarrely for its bijoux size, Florence is exhausting, so much to see and s I believe they call it 'art fatigue' - I kept my first week's schedule pretty packed and entertained myself pretty well but did not manage to see even half of the sites . . . lots of David's around so did not suck up the queue at the Accademia . . . Although I did make it to the Uffizi and yes, the beauty of Botticelli's Birht of Venus was beyond my comprehension especially when I have always been inclined towards abstract and minamalist art  . . . I felt the same about Giotto's crucifixion at Santa Maria Novella.

Venus and Mars at the Uffizi

view from the Uffizi of the river and Ponte Vecchio

I suppose it is not hard to take forgranted the beauty of htis small compact city, it is overwhelming . . .I used to love going in and out of hte city walls - so majestic, it's one of those old palces where you can just imagine what ic ould have been l ike 500 years ago.  I got goosebumps standing in teh square where Svanorola was burnt at stake.

The likeness of 2 great Florentines

One has to wonder what it was that made the city flourish as it did - to have a Brunelleschi, a Da Vinci and Gallilio all hailing from the same town . . .it must have been the water :) But really, there was wealth and power and I suppose it was also acceptable back then to be a true 'renaissance' man, to be well-rounded at everything.  
It begs the question really of waht happened to the 21st century when one is typecast as either a banker at one spectrum or an artist at another or a scientist somewhere else.  What thse men show in history books as well as walking down the streets of florence is that one can have and be it all.  Pretty simple yet inspiring stuff.

Apart from teh history lesson, Florence should not be knocked for its fair share of fantastic food.  I fell in love with the truffle panino's at Procaci - one of my favouriate things about florence . . . and the of course the gelati . . .2 scoops a day at least.



I was very lucky to have met Julie Holyoke through Gabe's friend Peter Marongoni, she showed me the Foundazion Lisio - the silk weavers - i was blown away . . .Italian, particularly Florentine craftsmanship is second to none, the Lisio is famous for its damasks and brocades - stunning.  She also too me to Soriso which means smile, one of the more high-tech gelaterias, it was so yummy. . .

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