Monday, April 2, 2012

Firenze (Florence), day 1

First things first. If you are planning to visit Italy, DO NOT RENT A CAR.Take the bus, the train, a taxi, or WALK, but unless you want to spent the majority of your time clutching the "oh shit" handles in the car (if you're the passenger), or yelling "oh shit" as you are passed by Vespas and buses while going 70 km going down mountain roads with hairpin turns (if you're the driver), stick with public transportation. Really. I'd take a video to share the excitement with you, but I'm too busy hanging on for dear life.

ANYway, we did make it from our agrotourismo to Florence with not one wrong turn! We had excellent directions and a carefully hand-drawn map, so that helped a ton. We spent the day wandering around Florence and taking in some of the sights.

 The front of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, the major cathedral in Florence. Each bit of color you see is inlaid marble, in pink, green, and the white Carrera marble. This picture doesn't do it justice - it is simply incredible in its complexity. The inside of the cathedral is austere in comparison.

 The bell tower for the duomo. It's been painstakingly cleaned and restored and today the colors of the marble are quite brilliant.

 We saw perhaps the most incredible private armor collection we've ever seen today at the Stibbert museum. There were thousands of pieces of armor, mostly from the 16th century. What made the collection so special was how complete the pieces were - many had the original linen linings and leather buckles. What's on display in many museums is parade armor, whereas this collection was more everyday jousting armor. Unfortunately, this was the only picture we were able to take - all the rest was off-limits to photography. We are hoping to go back later in the week and actually be able to photograph some of the pieces, with the director's permission. Fingers crossed!

 One interesting thing we saw in the Stibbert museum/house was that much of the "marble" is actually wood painted to look like marble, as was this door frame.

 Another basilica in Florence. This one was interesting because it has the same detailed inlay on the front, but you can see that around the sides is just plain brown stone. The marble is all a facade!

 Hubby and I on the Ponto Vecchio (old bridge). The bridge was first built over a thousand years ago!

View down the Ponto Vecchio. The bridge is completely lined with goldsmiths' and jewelers' shops - you can't even see the water except in the middle!

 Up-close of a goldsmith's shop.

The Uffizi Palace. This was the home of the Medici family, but today houses an amazing collection of art collected by the family. It's closed on Mondays, so we're planning to go there tomorrow.

 And you thought SmartCars were small! I'm pretty sure this is the Flintstones version of a car!

That's all for now. The report from home is that the boys are well and keeping out of mischief. I have such excellent housesitters (you know who you are!)


  1. Looks like a lot of fun, besides your car ride. The picture at the end of your post cracked me up, wow that car is small!

    1. S. Lauren, in a country of tiny cars, that one truly takes the cake as tiniest!

  2. The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence is one of the structures I admired a great deal while visiting there in 2008. The area is Truly beautiful!
    Thanks for sharing all your adventures and pictures. It's wonderful to be able to live vicariously through you.
    Fuzzy Pony

  3. Because I personally like to tour the world on my stomach, that little bridge you were on (the one with all the shops) has my favourite gelato store in the whole world. Tucked down the, I think, southern end was the most amazing gelato I have ever eaten, even Chris thought it was good....

    1. I know exactly the place you're talking about! We contemplated getting a gelato there but at 4 Euros for 1 scoop, it was double the price anywhere else.

      However, based on your recommendation, we'll clearly have to go back and try it. ;)