Last Night in Florence

Mike came to the hotel after class and we took him out to dinner. Turns out he had never seen underneath the Duomo where the old church was excavated and had never been in the museum of artwork found in the old church excavation or things moved there from the Duomo like Michelangelo’s Pieta so hope he’ll get there.

We ate at Pennelo, right next to Dante’s house….

Dinner was very good but maybe not spectacular – most restaurants in this area cater more to tourists.

Tortelini with artichokes

Ravioli stuffed with spinach and cheese with oil and basil on it

Penne with spicy sauce

Bill and Mike also got a second dish and we ended with a cream dessert and of course a good Tuscan red wine

Mike went to meet friends (after enjoying dinner for 3 hours) and we went to bed….

Off to Venezia tomorrow, but it’s supposed to rain. 🙁 Today was sunny and perfect – 70 degrees (F)

Uffizi and Duomo mostly

We were lucky to get reservations for the Uffizi gallery so after walking through various old areas of Florence, we went to wait our turn to get in. Talked awhile to a man outside who paints and sells watercolors of Florence and ended up buying three small pictures. Looked at all the outside statues first…including a living one.


Living statue

No photos allowed in the Uffizi, except in the halls. And most of those are on my “real” camera.

While there are thousands of great pieces of art, by far my favorite was Michelangelo’s Holy Family (the only surviving canvas painting by him) and next Leonardo da Vinci’s. Pretty obvious why they are so famous.


We ate lunch upstairs – 4th floor with great views of the towers and churches of Florence.

We also saw several other churches including Orsanmichele

and followed lots of the smaller less busy roads, then while eating gelato

on the steps of the Duomo- otherwise known as Santa Maria del Fiore – we realized it was still open and so went to see the inside. It’s a very beautiful cathedral – but so cold inside. Marble is cold to touch, and you are enclosed in a huge marble structure. Coming outside to 70 and sunny felt great!

But before doing that we saw a stairway that went down below the main church so we went to look, thinking it might be a crypt. We learned that below the structure of the current cathedral there was the excavation of Saint Reparata church, from 3rd century and remodeled and added onto before the newer Duomo was started in the 1200’s. Also visible is parts of a roman structure predating St Reparata – just incredible to see! Part of the old mosaic floor is still there!

So after leaving that I had just enough energy for part of the Duomo museum and at least 80% of the reason was to see Michelangelo’s unfinished Pieta. He sculpted this when he was 80 yrs old and almost destroyed it when he became angry about a defect in the marble. His helpers/students stopped him after damage was done to just one arm. He never did finish it but Nicodemus the man helping to hold Jesus is a self-portrait. It is beautiful.

Another interesting one was Donatello’s Mary Magdalene – her face was a study in misery

Right now as I write this the Duomo bells are playing and it’s amazing so close to us. Interrupted a bit ago by a Renaissance parade below our window

The churches here play their bells at different times so that they are not all competing so every few minutes you here more.

Now I am resting my poor legs before taking our nephew out to dinner. Note- walking the dog twice a day for a mile or two did NOT prepare me enough for all the walking and climbing. We are hoping all the walking will make up for all the eating!! But for sure flat Venice will be a treat!

Seven days have already gone by – but sixteen to go still 🙂 Kevin, Judy and Megan – can’t wait to see you!

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What a change to go from a quiet hidden away B&B in a quiet hidden away town to the bustle and life in Florence. The cathedral dominates the city and I don’t have the words to describe it beyond “wow”. The sheer size, the complexity of design and worksmanship and the beauty must be seen to be appreciated. From our 4th floor hotel room, it dwarfs us at the same time it’s closeness almost gives me a sense of being part of it, like I could reach out and touch it. As if Brunelleschi and Giotti and the many artists whose work went into this are there around me. Ok this sounds like I’ve had one two many glasses if wine or Grappa but all I had was one Italian beer, a bowl of rotini and meat sauce and a pistacchio gelato. As I said, you have to see it.

For Katie especially here is dinner from a little pizzeria

Bill had a cheese and spinach (spinach defines Florentine style cooking), meat wrap. My pasta had a fair amount of pepper on it and was more soupy sauce than I’m used to but good. And gelato that was excellent.

Sorry – no gelato pictures but I had pistacchio and Bill had chocolate.

Train adventures and Florence

We decided that although we loved Cinque Terre and would love to stay that we would go for the adventure of traveling during a slowdown (lots of cancelled trains) since it wasn’t a full blown strike. All trains that ran became regional instead of the fast, nicer intercity cars but upside was no reservations needed and no tickets taken. And, ironically, we arrived an hour earlier than expected.

Tunnel to the trains
through the tunnel along the Mediterranean
waiting for the train

Carrera along the way – where Michelangelo got his stone

Carrera white marble quarry

We walked from Santa Maria Novella train station to our hotel near the Duomo. The first view of the dome…


view from hotel room

Michael (our nephew) met us at the hotel within an hour of our arrival. First task was lunch for us. Mike took us to a small non-touristy sandwich shop and ordered for us in Italian.


Mike ordering in Italian

Then he took us on a tour including several churches and piazzas


and then over the Arno

to Piazzale Michelangelo to a beautiful church – all with a great view of the city of Florence.

Mike’s city – I like this picture!!

Beautiful church and very interesting graveyard

cool old cemetary behind the church

Then we walked back across the ponte vecchio bridge and through some of the oldest areas of Florence – we were impressed when we got back how much he had shown us!

Ponte Vecchio bridge

Tonight is light dinner and gelato night! And resting my poor old legs….I am lying in bed now looking out my window at the dome on the cathedral, hearing many people talking and laughing below – so opposite to the quiet of offseason Lake Como and Cinque Terre.

Pictures of the Duomo near sunset and of our hotel right across from it.