Thursday, April 4, 2013


Tonight, I'm doing all pictures...

This is part of the "new" city walls constructed in the 12th century.  Florence has had a number of versions of its city walls erected over the centuries as it grew.  These are near where I was staying in the Oltrarno district. 

Looking across the Arno towards the oldest part of Florence. 

This is the Church of Santa Maria Novella.

This is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as the Florence Cathedral.  This is just the central door...the whole structure goes on for blocks and is one of the largest cathedrals in Italy.

And this is the thing I most wanted to see in Florence, Brunelleschi's Dome, known simply as The Duomo.  It's near the back of the cathedral and soars over Florence.  I've always been fascinated by Brunelleschi's story.  He was a sculptor who worked in bronze.  In the early 15th century, a contest was held to see who would be commissioned to create sculpted bronze doors for the baptistery at the cathedral.  Each artist submitted one panel for judging.  Brunelleschi came in second.  Feeling shamed and rejected, he retreated to Rome where he became interested in ancient architecture.  The Florence Cathedral had been a work in progress for over a hundred years, and by 1418 it was complete except for its dome.  The problem was, no one knew how a dome as large as the one called for in the original plans could be built.  Flying buttresses had been deemed illegal in Florence, as the gothic structures were favored by their enemies.  Without the support of external buttresses, however, building the dome seemed impossible.  Once again the city held a contest, this time in structural engineering, to see if anyone could come up with a plan for the dome.  Brunelleschi combined his knowledge of ancient Roman structures with his brilliance for mathematics and came up with a plan.  This time he won!  His dome was the marvel of Renaissance times.  It remains the largest brick dome in the world and a masterpiece of engineering.  I've remembered that story vividly since first hearing it about 25 years ago.  It has always struck me as a testament to second chances.  So what if he came in second place to sculpt some doors.  He went on to achieve something remarkable that will stand throughout history as a masterpiece.  His is a story that screams "never give up!"              

This is the front of the cathedral.

The best view of the duomo is from the back, which is, unfortunately, undergoing renovation. 

The main mode of transportation in Florence is motor scooters.  I like the bicycle cities better...much quieter.

Bartolucci's...a traditional Italian woodworking shop.

This is the edge of the Uffizi museum just outside the Palazzo Vecchio. 

No, this isn't the real David by Michelangelo.  It is a replica that stands in the spot where the real one originally stood.

Another statue at the Uffizi.  Most of these guys are depicted in battle and all of them are naked.  I don't me it seems like that leaves one quite vulnerable.

Each region has its own type of pizza.  Here in Florence it is formed into a long rectangle and cut into squares.  The crust is thicker, also.  Still yummy, though. 


This is entering the Ponte Vecchio.  Believe it or not, this is a bridge.

Here it is from the riverside.

And all they sell on the bridge is jewelry.  Every single shop on both sides is a jeweler. 

This is in the middle of the bridge; more love locks.

This is the restaurant where I had dinner tonight, and it is inside these rooms that America was discovered!  Well, sort of...a famous mathematician and cartographer lived here.  He was the person who charted the course Christopher Columbus would take on his voyage west that eventually landed him in America. 

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