Una Passeggiata

Ciao Readers!

Okay, I am past my prickliness from last week and excited to share one of the many things I love about living here in Florence – the “passeggiata.”  While this literally means “a walk,” it’s really so much more.  The passeggiata is the time when everyone in the community is out and about – walking, chatting, stopping at bars for drinks and snacks, meeting up to enjoy a gelato (yay – more excuses to eat gelato!), and basically unwinding from the day.  This is pretty much a nightly event, which gives even a work-night the feel of a festival.  I have never lived anywhere where you can go out on the town at 9:00 on a Tuesday night and enjoy such a jovial and family-friendly atmosphere.  To be honest, until now, we were most likely to be on the couch watching t.v. at 9:00 p.m. on a Tuesday (or most any day).  I love walking around this town at that time of the evening – it is such a fantastic novelty!

While I think the evening walk is most appropriately termed a “passesggiata,” anytime is a great time to saunter around town.  It is still amazing what we get to see on a daily basis – famous art and architecture, outdoor markets, people from literally everywhere in the world, and more.  It is really impossible to describe the richness of a simple stroll.  So, instead of telling you about a walk through town, I will “show” you around.  (You may have noticed that you rarely get an up-close view of individual folks in my blog (other than us) – that is because I have decided not to include clear facial photos of folks unless I ask their permission first (like the proprietors of the places we’ve eaten), so more photos of things than people is the result).

Below are shots (in this order) of the Duomo (famous landmark by Brunelleschi, c. 1436); the Saturday market in the Piazza della Santissima Annunziate (another Brunelleschi creation and where the roundels, or “mummy-babies” are); Santa Croce Church (I walk right past this on the way to my new Italian language school every day!); the Ponte Vecchio (as I mentioned in an earlier post, the only bridge not blown up by Hitler’s troops); a beautiful carousel in the Piazza della Repubblica (a great place for an evening stroll, complete with street musicians); and just a random shot down any street with a peak-a-boo view of the top of the Duomo.  Pretty impressive scenery, no?!

The Art of Florence

I actually don’t think I’ve mentioned yet the fact that we are moving to one of THE most beautiful and art-filled cities in the world!   Florence is amazing, and I’d like to share just a little taste of it with you (and would love to show you all of this cool stuff in person in the near future)…

It’s actually been difficult writing this post because I know there are so many websites and books on the art of Florence and I don’t intend on becoming an encyclopedia or repeating what you can read elsewhere here.  Instead, I am going to point out a few cool things and our experience with them.

Boboli Gardens – when we were in Italy the very first time we went to these gardens (which cover about 11 acres).  They are AMAZING!  Not only are the flora part of the gardens beautiful, but all around you are really old statues, fountains and sculptures.  To learn more/see some photos:  http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/boboli_garden.html. We were having such a good time walking around the gardens that we seriously discussed blowing off our reservation to L’Accademia (the museum where Michelangelo’s “David” is) (side note – it is ALWAYS a good idea to buy tickets and make reservations online for all museums in Italy, lest you waste a couple of hours standing in line).  We probably would have, if it weren’t for the two guys from San Fransisco we met on our train ride to Florence (thanks, guys, whoever you are!).  They went on and on AND on about how amazing the David is – how no photos can do it justice, how it’s something you MUST experience, etc.  After a review like that we figured we’d better go (at the time we were thinking it might be our only opportunity – who knew!).   So, we left the beautiful gardens, and went to L’Accademia to see:

Michelangelo’s David – the 2 guys from San Fransisco did NOT exaggerate – this is seriously one of the most impressive pieces of art EVER!  Before we went to Italy I was not much of a museum person, but this experience truly changed that.  Every tiny muscle fiber on David is sculpted to life – and as legend has it, from a piece of marble that all other sculptors of the day (including DaVinci) found to be sub-par.   If you come to visit (or are in Florence), promise me you will go see this – you will be awestruck!  They don’t let you photograph inside, but here is a link to photos/more info: http://www.tickitaly.com/galleries/accademia.php

Ponte Vecchio – this is the oldest surviving bridge in Florence (circa 1345), and it is gorgeous!  The other bridges were all bombed to bits during World War II by Hitler’s troops.  Depending on the source, story has it that Hitler purposely let the Ponte Vecchio alone as it was so beautiful (as surreal as it seems, Hitler was an art aficionado).  We had our picture taken in front of it, and we purchased a small water-color from the gentleman below (I still can’t wrap my brain around the fact that we are basically moving to the piece of art that’s been hanging on our living room wall!):

The Uffizi, starring Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” – The Uffizi is an incredible museum with countless works of art by famous artists.  The piece that spoke to me the loudest (and forced me to continue to return and stare), was Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus.”   This painting, from approximately 1486, is a masterpiece of the Renaissance and marks a divergence from the usual Italian art subject – Catholic religious images.  As with “David,”  a photo cannot do this piece of work justice – both in beauty as well as size (unlike the Mona Lisa, which is tiny, this is huge) – you will just have to come see it for yourself!

And now the coolest part (for us)….  I got us a family membership card to the museums of Florence which lets us in to all of the places described here, plus tons more, for the year without having to wait in line – we just walk up to the members’ entrance!   You can read more about the “Friends of the Uffizi” here:  http://www.amicidegliuffizi.it/become_a_member.aspx.   I can’t wait to put that card to good use!

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