There are few places on Earth that give me the kind of joy that Florence, Italy did! The pictures I took on this dreary day do not come close to highlighting the beauty that Florence offers.
In preparation for the trip to Italy, I watched the first season of the Netflix series The Medici – a bit too rated R for me, but it highlights the rise of the Medici family and everything they did for Florence in the 13 and 1400s. Along with a healthy amount of unnecessary sex and love… quadrangles (?) was some of the history of Florence. It is a fascinating city!
The construction of the duomo is filled with scandal, sabotage, and political gain, but dear God it’s beautiful! Once again, the religious holiday made it impractical to inside due to the lines, but we did get to see all of Florence that day.
This is the bell tower and cathedral in Florence (the duomo is behind this). The detail is unimaginable – so intricate, it is no wonder it took a hundred and forty years to complete this masterpiece!
A short history about the construction of cathedrals and their surrounding buildings in Europe:
- Cathedrals and bell towers were originally constructed as separate buildings- unlike today where they are constructed together.
- Originally, the you were not permitted to enter the cathedral until you had been baptized, so older cathedrals have a separate building called the baptistry. That way people could (pay to) get baptized, and then be able to enter the cathedral in order to worship, receive the sacraments, and to attend confession.
- Baptisteries were octagonal in shape because in Christian numerology (which was very popular at the time), the number eight follows the “perfect” number 7, thus symbolizing a new beginning.
Pretty cool, huh! Who knew!
Below is a picture of me at the Paradise gate on the baptistery in Florence — so there is Ms. Paradise, in front of Paradise gate 🙂
Also on our tour we passed the sculpture garden of the Medici family. One of the many things the Medici did for the city was finance artists. The sculpture garden was more of a courtyard than a “garden” – but it was insanely impressive, and during our free time I sat there and wrote in my journal to try to process the beauty of the city.
My friend and I also took the advice of our tour guide and found a glorious cafe at the top of a department store that gave us an amazing view of the city. There we had a cappuccino (of course) and sat and talked while enjoying the view of Florence from the air.
Florence’s most famous tourist attraction is the Ponte Vecchio. It is one of the most recognizable bridges in all of Italy, and it is basically an ancient high-end strip mall. I’m over-simplifying of course, but it was interesting to see the beauty of the bridge lined with jewelry shops and leather purses. However, it is historically accurate. The bridge was the center of commerce when it was first constructed.
The day was sunny and glorious – but there was so much more of Florence that I would have loved to have seen. It would be very easy to spend a week in Florence, and we were only there for a little over a day. There is, of course, the museum where they have the statue of David. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see that. It was an option, but due to the crowds and our time constraints, I chose to see more of the city and experience more of Florence rather than wait in lines. However, on the outskirts of town they do have a replica that was rather impressive too!
Next week’s post will be about the most amazing evening of the entire trip – our impromptu trip to Pisa!