10.10.2010 - 14.12.2010
Okay, so we're officially back home. But out of principle, and because we'd like to finish something we've started, we are going to keep going with the entries. Florence was the second destination we went to in Italy. Jade had visited there last in 1997, as part of a school trip. We took a train from Venice and arrived in the late evening. Unfortunately, the hotel we had booked through Booking.com had not received our details, and were fully booked. Luckily they found us a room at a hotel nearby, close to the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, known as the Duomo. Walking through the narrow streets of the city, the Duomo looks like a 2D cut-off plastered on the sky, an amazing sight and somewhat of an optical illusion due to the style of architecture and paint colours used. Residents of Florence are very fashion conscious - with a number of high-end boutiques and Italian fashion houses in the city. It was amazing the amount of men and women who had Prada, Louis Vuitton or Gucci handbags/manbags. Leather jackets are big, helped by the local leather markets. Otherwise, there is always the blackmarket sellers, who are constantly on the look-out for the police, and can quickly move away and set back up again whatever they are selling. We stood in line for over an hour to get into the Uffizi, considered to be one of the most important art galleries in the world. With paintings and sculptures by the four Ninja Turtles - Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael (haha). Our favourites were Botticelli's 'The Birth of Venus', da Vinci's 'Adoration of the Magi', Caravaggio's 'Medusa' and van Honthorst's 'Adoration of the Child'. We also went to see Michelangelo's statue of David at the Accademia di Bella Arti, and marveled at how big the sculpture (and certain parts of the sculpture) actually were. This gallery also had some other good collections, such as a musical instrument collection, a plaster models collection, and early Christian paintings and icons. One afternoon we had a nice walk along the river (via the tempting Ponte Vecchio 'gold-sellers' bridge) up the hill to the look-out known as the Piazelle Michelangelo. There is a very beautiful church on the hill called the San Miniato al Monte. It was a pity that tourists were making a bit of a racket in the church, but this was sorted out by an angry looking priest who started closing the doors. Another day was spent at the Palazzo Pitti (palace), bought by the Medici family in 1549, and used through the centuries as a grand residence of the Tuscan nobles. In one display of original clothing worn by Medici family members, Jade was shocked when looking at what is known as a 'cod piece'. As with Venice, in Florence we had some great pasta meals, and a particular favourite was a trio of Tuscan soups.