Monday, August 20, 2007

Another trip to Florence

Yesterday we took another day trip up to the lovely city of Florence. It was a beautiful day out, perfect for a ....traffic jam. We really have no idea why this happened. We were driving along the highway at a good clip, when all of a sudden the cars ahead of us crawled to a stop, forcing us to do the same. The entire highway stopped, people got out of their cars, and commenced smoking and talking. After about 20 minutes things started moving again. We never did find out why this happened, because there was no sign of an accident ahead or anything. In any case, it provided us yet another humorous example of life in Italy to relate to you.

Once we got to Florence we stopped by the hotel where mom and dad stayed 27 years ago when they were first here. It had changed considerably since then, most notably the absence of the scary old night-clerk in long johns.

Then we passed by (and some of us went into) the church of San Lorenzo. It was consecrated in 393 by St. Ambrose of Milan. It houses many beautiful Renaissance works of art inside, however the no-picture police were out in force. And when I say out in force, I mean out in force. I couldn't get any pictures, and I'm pretty smooth, see the example of the Royal Palace in Madrid. I think one of the hindrances was the fact that I didn't have my two wingmen Alex and Andrew, we make a great team. Anyways, one of the most amazing things was a painting on the celing of the sky, in a rich shade of blue complete with the sun, moon, stars, constellations, and other astronomical details.


Then it was on to the Duomo, which I have pictures of in the previous entry on Florence. This time however we went inside. Here's a detail on one of the bronze doors.

Inside was this crazy clock. I couldn't figure it out until I realized that it is a 24-hour clock and that the hands move counter-clockwise. How's THAT for irony?

This is the interior of the Duomo.

Here we have a holy water font.

And the magnificent ceiling. Depicting the Last Judgment it covers more than 38,000 square feet of painted area and took 11 years to complete. It was a joint project of Vasari and Zuccari.

On the streets of Florence, one of the medieval torch sockets. The ring lifts up and holds the torch in place once it is dropped in the socket.

Then we stopped for Gelato at a gelateria aptly named "Perche' no?" or "why not?". And that is just what we thought. Gelato? Why not?

Dad stopping to rub the nose of the bronze Porcellino, which you will recognize from the clay model we bought in Montepulciano.

Then we took a tour on a double-decker bus. Our friend Marco is a bus driver in Florence and was able to get us comps, so we climbed aboard and spent a delightful hour listening to the quite informative radio guide and driving around the city.

Here's the Hospital of the Innocents, which used to be an orphanage. It has provided care of children and infants for more than five centuries and is notable for the unique adoption system is used during the early years. Mothers who did not wish to be known would place their children on a revolving door which was spun around, depositing the child within the walls of the orphanage anonymously.

We might have missed this tower and its significance had the audioguide not pointed it out to us. It turns out this was the mint where the famous Florin was made. The Florin was the coin of Florence and was so powerful that it eventually became the most widely used currency in Europe. It was also the most counterfeited coin.

Here's part of the old wall surrounding Florence.

And a view of the city as we said our goodbye.

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