Today, we walked around and saw most of the mandatory Florence sights. Started with the Duomo, which is really amazing. The building is made from white and green marble. And every inch of wall has some sort of intricate statue or flourish carved into it. The Duomo is probably the most impressive building I’ve seen. (No offense, Bagby building)
Next, we walked down to the Palazzo Vecchio. I was looking forward to seeing this one because it’s the building that they based Baltimore’s Bromo Seltzer tower on.
Here’s the Palazzo Vecchio:
And the Bromo Seltzer tower:
Now, whenever I’m stuck in gridlock on Lombard Street cursing at stoplights, I’ll take a moment to gaze at the Bromo Seltzer tower and be reminded of my trip to Florence.
I’ll smile. And then lean on my horn, because some prick just cut me off.
Here are a few shots more shots from around the Palazzo Vecchio and two from inside. (Which, coincidentally, looks nothing like the inside of the Bromo Seltzer tower).
Outside the Palazzo Vecchio, there’s a copy of Michaelangelo’s David, Neptune, the Rape of the Sabines, and many others. It’s also the gateway to the Uffizi museum, which is apparently one of the best museums in the world. We didn’t go inside. But the outside looked nice. In fact, you might even say that it is of the best outsides of museums in the world.
(This is one of the statues outside of the Uffizi. For a split second, I thought it was a real guy.)
From there, we walked to the Ponte Vecchio, the main bridge that crosses the Arno river. The bridge was built in 1345. Today, it’s lined with jewelry stores and drooling women. From the side of the bridge, the stores jut out like mismatched Tetris pieces.
At the center, there’s a break in the stores, where people gather to take in the spectacular views down the Arno river. Instead of graffiti, people hook hundreds of luggage locks on the bridge. This is to prevent people from trying to unzip it.
The neighborhood across the Arno, Oltrarno, is really nice. It must’ve been a wealthier part of town. Or maybe just slightly newer. The buildings look a little more like the ones in Verona. Some streets, like the one where Quattro Leoni was, feel more like a movie set than an actual street.
Florence has a lot of really really REALLY nice stores. It would be very easy to drop a fortune here. So if I don’t make it back to the states, It’s because I’m washing dishes trying to pay off shoes.
On the way back to the hotel, we saw this great street performer dog. Let’s call him “Fred.” The owner, “Walter,” would give Fred a piece of cardboard. Fred would cross the street, jump up on the trash can and drop the cardboard in the can. Then, Walter held up five fingers, and counted down. Fred barked five times, and stopped when there were no fingers left. At the end of his act, Fred walked around with a basket in his mouth to collect tips.
Fred is a genius. I’ve gotta teach Natty how to do that. We’d make a killing at the inner harbor.
This afternoon, we went to The Galleria Dell’Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. Quite frankly, I was a little disappointed by the museum. There were no nunchucks to be seen anywhere. Although the sculpture was pretty impressive for a half-man half-turtle with three fingers.
Anyway, I realized today that I have absolutely no appreciation for really old artwork. We breezed through the gallery in 20 minutes. You can really only see so many 2 dimensional gold-leaf paintings of the same 5 biblical scenes before they all start to look the same. I think my art appreciation begins sometime after people realized that you can paint other stuff besides people with halos.
Observations of the day:
A man looks at the ancient architecture in Florence and he is humbled. He sees a thousand years of history, struggle and progress.
But a Pigeon looks at it and sees a good place to poop.
Some of the streets in Florence remind me a lot of New York. Narrow, dark, crowded and kind of dirty.
In fact, if people weren’t speaking Italian, you might be able to convince me that I was somewhere in Manhattan. It’s only when you come to the really historic buildings that you realize that you’re not in Kansas anymore.
Although I think there are actually more Americans and British here than Italians. Every vendor in the San Lorenzo market speaks (and sells) very well in English.
It’s kind of nice, because it’s very easy to communicate. But part of me was hoping for more of a culture shock. Florence is definitely the most American-feeling city we’ve seen.
Also – the string that hangs from the wall in the bathroom is NOT a laundry line. We found this out the hard way when the front desk called to find out why someone had pulled the emergency alarm.
A few more random pictures from today:
Breakfast in the hotel. A croissant, pane toscano with nutella and some fruit.
Lunch was at I’Brindellone, a charming little trattoria near San Spirito. The food was terrific. We split a 1/2 carafe of the house red. I had the Ribollita for primi.
Filetto de manzo alla griglia was Secondi.
Both were great – the Ribollita was hearty. It was creamy but had small chunks here and there of carrots, beans and other veg. Great flavor and much better texture than the one I made a few months ago. The steak was simple and perfect – medium rare, sliced and smoky from the grill. So far the Food Lover’s Guide is 2 for 2.
Gelato was at a Gelateria called “Very Good.” The cone was ridiculously huge.
I actually asked for a smaller one than what she offered and this is what I got. I had Pistaccio and Café latte. They were ok. Don’t know if I’d go as far as “Very Good”.
Dinner was at Caffe La Borsa. We split a pizza al tonno (pizza with Tuna)
And fagioli (canellini beans with parsley, olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper).
Both were great. They also gave us a comically huge goblet of beer. You almost needed two hands to lift the glass. (That’s the water glass hiding in the shadows of the beer.)
I haven’t had much pasta yet this trip. Tomorrow I eat pasta.
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