Although this is a trip that focuses on hilltop Tuscan towns, no visit to Tuscany would be complete without a stop in the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence.
My sister Sandy and I were lucky enough to spend two days in Florence in July, 2012, and Mike and I had done a day trip about 10 years ago, so we didn’t feel compelled to “do it all” this time around. Instead, we were satisfied with a leisurely and informative stroll with our wonderful local guide, Fernanda.
The evening before Fernanda had given us a fascinating overview of the Medici family, Renaissance art and the connections between the two. I’m sure I heard it all before in various history classes, but Fernanda really made it come to life during the lecture, and again, the next day during our stroll through Florence.
The Piazza Della Signoria was the first home of an important Medici couple, Eleonora and Cosimo I. This arranged match was not off to a great start. Those in the know wondered why this Spanish old maid was not spoken for? (She was 17). The groom didn’t even make it to his own wedding, so they were married by proxy. Fortunately, things improved greatly after that: it turned out to be a love match that produced 11 children.
Well, Eleanora was not happy with her “starter home”. It was devoid of gardens for the children to play in, so Eleanora used her own money (how cool is that–a woman with $$$ of her own back in the 1400’s) to purchase from the Pitti family a little “cottage” across the river.
Sandy and I spent a day wandering through the Pitti Palace, a glorious edifice, which now houses 6 or 7 museums. The Pitti Palace does indeed have spectacular gardens, plus a breathtaking view of the river and the duomo. No photos of the Pitti from this trip, because there was no time to visit it. You’ll just have to take my word for it that it was grand.
But I digress. Back to the Piazza Della Signoria . In front of the “starter home” is a replica of Michelangelo’s David. The original was moved from there to the protection of the Academia, but it was not initially created for that plaza. Instead, it was supposed to be placed on the facade of the Duomo. Fernanda explained that was why the hands are so enormous. When viewed from below, the hands would be correctly proportioned.
There are lots of other wonderful sculptures, but my favorite is below–the rape of the Sabine women.
We had considered visiting a museum during our free time. Instead, we decided to take Anna’s advice not to succumb to “Stendhal Syndrome” and become over saturated with culture.
After a fantastic lunch at Boccadama, Mike and I stopped for gelato, then wandered up an alley near the church of Santa Croce to visit Italian Loves, a wonderful little shop.
The proprietor allows you to sample his wares. You can taste the olive oil, the balsamic vinegar and the wine. I was deeply regretting having a gelato BEFORE visiting Italian Loves. What to do? Why, buy a little of everything. Those near and dear to me know what THAT means. Yes, there just MAY be a gift in your future.
Although my BLOG is only on our second day in Tuscany, WE are actually in Sorrento. The problem with posts lagging well behind the visits is one can get confused. Particularly when that “one” is me. If you are following my posts, true confession time. We didn’t stop at the American cemetery after our feast at Giuseppe’s Pianciorciano Cheese Factory. It was after this visit to Florence, which is only important if you want to find the cemetery. You’d have a hell of a time if you were looking in the Radicofani area, because it is located between Florence and Chianciano Terme. Ah well. Accuracy is a small price to pay for all the wine drinking and cafe sitting done instead of blogging, right?