jeudi 6 août 2009


As I sit and write this post, the sky outside is a bright blue dotted with lazy fluffy white clouds going by. And while the temperature might be a tad on the brisk side, its nonetheless shaping up to be a gorgeous summer day. I love summer. I guess because for me its vacation time, and sun and the sea.  And while I’m long past those days when summer inevitably meant vacation, it hasn’t stopped me from dreaming of journeying to far away exotic lands.So far this summer, the closest I’ve gotten to taking off was to spend a few days in the glorious city of Florence.   Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region of Italy and is considered the birth place of the Italian Renaissance.  It was the center of Medieval trade and finance and it gained widespread prominence thanks to its art and architecture.  So much art and architecture has merited its place in the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There is no need for a set itinerary when you get to Florence. Merely walking about the city center is inspiring with all the fantastic architecture and art that is casually displayed everywhere.  No doubt the most striking feature of the city’s landscape is the Duomo.  I’m at a loss for words and its enough to crane my neck and try to glimpse the breadth of its striking red tiled dome that rises up a steep 432 steps as well as its  distinctive pink, white and green façade .  And to think that, as conceived by Brunelleschi, it was constructed entirely without a supporting structure.  It is instead composed of two concentric domes. Pretty amazing when you consider that construction began in the 13th century. Long before computers and fancy equipment! Once you’ve done gawking the Duomo don’t hesitate to check out the neighboring Campanile designed by Giotto. It rises 82 meters high and is a 414 step climb up.

After the Duomo and the Campanile, a meandering walk took us to the Piazza della Signoria which has some of the city’s loveliest buildings.   It looks peaceful now and full of hordes of tourists are all over it, but it was also the place where Savonarola’s infamous bonfires took place.  I’m sure this square has seen its fair share of history!  It is also in this lovely square that the wonderful Uffizi Gallery can be found. 

If there is one museum you must see in Florence, it definitely would be the Uffizi. After all, it houses what is arguably the world’s biggest collection of Renaissance Italian art.  It is here that you will see Boticelli’s Birth of Venus, Spring and the Annunciation.  But that’s not all you’ll see. Other highlights include Titian’s Urbino Venus and Tintoretto’s Leda and the Swan.  It is just a mind boggling collection that you’ll forgive the sometimes haphazard way of displaying the works, not to mention the long queues just to get in.  The best thing I did with respect to the Uffizi was to book my tickets in advance. That way it took only 15 mins instead of hours!

Of course Florence wouldn’t be complete without Michaelangelo’s David.  But alas, the proud David that you find standing in the Piazza della Signoria is not the original.  The original has long been safely guarded within the walls of the Galleria dell’Academia.  I’m sure there are lots of other wonderful artwork in the Academia, but I, like everybody else made a beeline straight for David!

So much walking around that we couldn’t help but work up an appetite.  And I think I spent a good deal of my time in the city just sampling Florentine cuisine.  I confess to have had certain traitorous thoughts about how fine Italian cuisine could be compared to French.  But perhaps it was all that gelato I consumed that made my mind think so!

 Food, art, museums, churches with fabulous art, nearly every thing that makes a great trip was ticked off on my list .  One final thing to do before leaving was to visit the famed Officina-Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella.   How can I resist the one place where perfume making has been elevated almost to an artform.  Stepping inside its halls is almost like stepping back in time.  There is an old fashioned air about everything they do.  Towards the back room, I caught a glimpse of the convent grounds and I could almost imagine how it must have been then.   Of course I took time sampling the various scents so temptingly displayed in their counters.  Such a delicious assault on the senses, I walked away quite in a daze.  A fitting way to end my trip to Florence.    

Some photos from the trip....

Taking photos inside the Uffizi is prohibited, so I had to content myself with the many sculptures that were outside the Gallery...

The Piazza della Signoria

Just a glimpse of the inside of the Palazzo Vecchio which was the traditional seat of the Florentine government..

Here is the Palazzo Vecchi from outside ....
Not far is the river Arno, and the picturesque Ponte Vecchio,  a 14th century bridge that is home to jewelry shops since the reign of Fernando I de' Medici.  It is the only bridge not blown up during the war.
The Basilica di Santa Croce
The inner courtyard of the Santa Croce
The Church of the Santa Maria Novella
A glimpse of the Santa Maria Novella boutique

2 commentaires:

Redaddict a dit…

haha i see you went to the santa maria novella shop!

Pink Princess a dit…

How could I resist? Hahaha