Firenze … Renaissance City (Part I)

Neptune Fountain, Piazza della Signoria

Neptune Fountain in Piazza della Signoria

Firenze … Birthplace of the Italian Renaissance! The capital city of Tuscany is awash in magnificent art, architecture, gardens and, well, beauty in general. When Polly and I arrived in Florence, we dropped our luggage at our hotel near Piazza della Santa Maria Novella, and immediately dashed out to explore the deep roots of this vibrant city. At nearly every corner, a different piazza welcomes people with outdoor cafes, local musicians performing for patrons, beautifully appointed shops, spectacular fountains. The city is replete with world class museums such as the Accadamia, Uffizi Gallery, Bargello Museum, the resplendant gardens of Pitti Palace … ancient cathedrals brimming with so much history that it becomes difficult to fathom at times. Yes, Florence clearly lives up to its moniker as a renaissance city!

To begin our four-day visit in Florence, we hit the streets for some shopping at the outdoor “Mercato” along the streets near San Lorenzo Church. Polly scored a leather satchel for her boyfriend (which she had to break-in on the spot since she had run out of space in her own luggage). Then on to Piazza del Duomo. Magnificence! The buildings of Santa Maria del Fiore (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) are just impossible to describe, so I have chosen to use photos in an attempt to pay befitting respect to this spectacular duomo:

Belltower, Baptistry and Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore

Baptistry, Duomo and Belltower of Santa Maria del Fiore

Architectural details above the entrance to Santa Maria del Fiore

Gothic Revival façade above the entrance to Santa Maria del Fiore

Entrance doors to the Duomo are adorned with scenes from the life of Madonna and carvings of the twelve apostles

Statue of St John the Baptist (Patron Saint of Florence) baptisting Christ with angel looking on

Statue of St John the Baptist (Patron Saint of Florence) baptizing Christ with an angel looking on

Guilded doors of the Baptistry depict ten scenes from the Old Testament

Bronze doors of the Baptistry of Saint John depict ten scenes from the Old Testament

Frescoes inside the duomo by Giovanni da Milano

Frescoes inside the duomo by Giovanni da Milano

Guilded representation of Christ on the inside of the cathedral's dome

Mosaic representation of Christ on the ceiling of the Baptistry

The Gothic architectural style present in the Baptistry of Saint John is evident in the marble columns and arches found throughout the interior but the magnificent mosaic domed ceiling is without a doubt its crowning glory!

Piazza del Duomo and the buildings it houses attract tens of thousands of visitors annually. It’s a very busy place to say the least, but well worth the visit. Plan ahead, purchase tickets for touring the buildings of the duomo in advance and thoroughly enjoy the refined beauty of this magnificent Florentine landmark. For information on touring Santa Maria del Fiore on your visit to Florence, or to purchase tickets in advance of your trip (highly recommended), visit the official website at http://museumflorence.com/

Lunch time! Let’s just say that exploring the buildings of Piazza del Duomo instilled a mighty hunger in our bellies! A local we chatted with suggested we enjoy lunch at one of her favorite restaurants, Ristorante La Posta, located just off Piazza della Repubblica near the main post office. Splendid recommendation! I was still savoring the shaved ribbons of mushrooms I’d ordered days before in Orvieto, so I was delighted when our waiter suggested their preparation of the freshly harvested delicacy. Polly ordered an amazing meal of gnocchi in a decadent cream sauce and topped with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano. Sipping a few glasses of Trebbiano while enjoying a late lunch al fresco style was a calming conclusion to this lively day! (I could not locate a web address for Ristorante La Posta; however, their address is Via dei Lamberti 20, Firenze. They also operate a more casual cafe … Caffe La Posta … across the street at Via Pellicceria 28-red, Firenze).

Arched courtyard of the Bargello Museum

Arched courtyard of the Bargello Museum

Day two in Florence was one for the museums. (Sidebar: please secure tickets for entrance to the museums you plan to visit when you’re planning your trip in advance, as if not you will find yourself somewhere in a long, winding line of tourists waiting for tickets outside the museum doors.)

First stop the Galleria dell’ Accademia, most famous for Michelangelo’s Statue of David. http://www.sbas.fi.it/english/musei/accademia/ Then on to Bargello Museum, housing masterpieces by Michelangelo, Donatello and Cellini to name a few. Check out the arches and reliefs adorning the walls of the Bargello’s courtyard! http://www.sbas.fi.it/english/musei/bargello/ Finally, a visit to Piazza della Signoria for the grande one … the Uffizi Gallery, world famous for its extensive collection of Renaissance paintings and sculptures by masters including Botticelli, da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo and Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Rubens. The Uffizi tour was fantastic, providing comprehensive details about many of the masterpieces as well as a history of the gallery rooms where they are housed.

Bronze statue in Piazza della Signoria of Mercurio beheading Perseus

Bronze statue of Mercurio beheading Perseus

Sculptures displayed in a portico lining the Piazza della Signoria were every bit as magnificent as many inside the Uffizi. http://www.sbas.fi.it/english/musei/uffizi/ Exhausted! With Michelangelo, Donatelli, Caravaggio, Rembrandt and many of their colleagues clattering around in my brain, the only option I could think of to silence the noise was a glass of vino and a nap before dinner.

Replica of Michelangelo's statue of David in Piazza della Signoria

Replica of Michelangelo’s “David”

Giambologna's "Rape of the Sabines"

Giambologna’s “Rape of the Sabines”

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