Last Day in Florence, Spooks, Tombs, Art, Shopping
Aug 14, 1992
Aug 26, 1992
Began the day visiting the roof of the hotel, which boasts a 360 degree view. It was unbelievable, seeing Florence, all at once in all its grandeur. By simply turning around in a circle, one is able to see the Duomo, Palazzo Vecchio, tower of the Bargello, the spire of the Badia Fiorentina, Capanille of the Cathedral, and San Miniato Church across the river near Piazzale Michelangelo.We headed towards Santa Croce to see the famous pantheon of Italian notables. On the way we stopped in at Casa Buonarotti for a look at a house purchased by Michelangelo for his family in the 16th century, when he was starting to become quite rich. The museum is small, but has two of his famous first pieces of work, the Madonna of the Stairs and Battle of the Centaurs, both in relief and both, I believe he sculpted at age 15 while in residence at the Medici sponsored Sculpture Garden supervised by the student of Donatello, one Bertoldo di Giovanni, known simply as Bertoldo. On to Santa Croce with its astounding piazza where jousts were fought for fun and festival in the 15th and 16th centuries usually under Medici direction. Inside are famous tombs such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, and Bruni. I peaked next door at the famous Pazzi Chapel created by Bruneleschi. It is quite a sight. We then attempted to find the number 13 bus to Piazzale Michelangelo for the incredible view of the city from south and slightly east, but got on the wrong bus and wound up at the Pitti Palace, the famous Piazzale Michelangelo would have to wait for my next visit. This wasn't that bad, as we went to the rear of the palazzo for their beautiful gardens, known as The Boboli Gardens. Tree lined paths, sweet smells of arbours, fewer crowds, but equally hot and all the hills and walking made us again very tired. We had lunch at La Sagrestia, on via Guiciardini right between the Pitti and the Ponte Vecchio. That was the first time of many times Wendy and I ate there. It is a lovely place, very homey with excellent service and good food. We crossed the Ponte Vecchio, looked again into jewelry store windows, and headed north via Por Santa Maria, and then east again towards Dante's House. History does not record that he actually lived there, but certainly not far away from the spot, now made "sacred" by this obviously very old and hundreds years old house that probably looked like, at least, where he lived. Being on that spot, looking at a house that old, and feeling the presence of Dante and heaven knows what other famous people spooked us out, especially Jennifer, who clearly shared her parents' (especially father's) love for history. Suddenly it all came together for us. Here we were strolling around streets hundreds of years old where once walked, just like us, Michelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci, Raphael, Galilieo, Lorenzo di Medici, Machiavelli, Petrach, Bocccacio, Giotto, Botticelli, and on and on and on. Right then and there it gripped me tight and never let go, ever and even to this day, almost 19 years later, I can still feel the magic of Florence, its people and its history. Heading west and north, we again walked through the San Lorenzo Market. Now I rarely go into that market, because I find the sales pressure overwhelming, and the goods on the cheap side. I much prefer to shop now at private stores, and even pay slightly more (but sometimes not more expensive at all). Then, however, we all were crazy for the place and could not get enough of the leather wallets, coats, and sundry other items, all there waiting for us. I must say that with all the art, I never tire of shopping, and just strolling around. We all stayed up that night talking about spirits, ghosts, and Florence and vowing to return very soon after. Tomorrow, my first look at a fantasy world, Venice !