|Santa Maria del Fiore, "The Duomo"|
First stop, Florence! Wow! What an amazing city, the art work, the architecture, not to mention the history. Ground zero for the end of the dark ages and the beginning of the Renaissance. The history goes back to before the Romans, with many wars and different ruling families over the years, but by the 15th century, Florence became an important trading hub and the cradle of Italian and eventually European culture. Many great personalities such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Dante, Botticelli, Brunelleschi, Donatello, to name just a few, all worked and lived here. The art work and architecture is unsurpassed anywhere, to this day.
|Neptune Fountain, The Palazzo Vecchio|
Florence has a charm like no other place I've ever been. We were awestruck the moment we arrived, in spite of the throngs of tourists, and that feeling continued at every corner, every coble stone street, every museum, every courtyard, every fountain, every little nook and cranny. If I could live in a city, this would be it. No one builds like this anymore. It's absolutely timeless.
|Palazzo Vecchio Courtyard, home to the Medici family|
The Palazzo Vecchio is the town hall of Florence. It overlooks the Piazza della Signoria with it's copy of Michelangelo's David statue as well as the galley of statues in the adjacent Loggia dei Lanzi. In 1299, the commune and people of Florence decided to build a palace that would be worthy of the city's importance, and that would be more secure and defensible in times of turbulence for the magistrates of the commune.
Duke Cosimo I de' Medici (later to become grand duke) moved his official seat from the Medici palazzo in via Larga to the Palazzo della Signoria in May 1540, signalling the security of Medici power in Florence.
|The Vasari Corridor above Ponte Vecchio|
When Cosimo later removed to Palazzo Pitti, he officially renamed his former palace to the Palazzo Vecchio, the "Old Palace", although the adjacent town square, the Piazza della Signoria, still bears the original name.
Cosimo commissioned Giorgio Vasari to build an above-ground walkway, the "Vasari Corridor", from the Palazzo Vecchio, through the Uffizi, over the Ponte Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti. Cosimo I also moved the seat of government to the Uffizi.
The palace gained new importance as the seat of united Italy's provisional government from 1865–71, at a moment when Florence had become the temporary capital of the Kingdom of Italy. Although most of the Palazzo Vecchio is now a museum, it remains as the symbol and centre of local government; since 1872 it has housed the office of the mayor of Florence, and it is the seat of the City Council. The tower currently has three bells; the oldest was cast in the 13th century. Throughout the Palazzo, the art work, the walls, ceilings, every single room, is exquisite.
|"David", Michelangelo's Masterpiece|
Speaking of exquisite art work, the Galleria dell Accademia is a must see. In particular is the original of Michelangelo's David, as well as an extremely important collection of his sculptures. Unbelievable work.
But the list of unbelievable places to visit is long. How about the Uffizi Gallery with Botticelli's "Primavera" and "The Birth of Venus". There's Leonardo's "Annunciation" and Michelangelo's "Tondo Doni". How about Paolo Uccello, Albrecht Durer, Rosso Fiorentino, Bronzino, Raphael, Titan, Andrea del Sarto... The list seems endless of incredible artists.
There's so much to take in, the mind becomes numb you can't remember what you saw where, especially since we only had two days in Florence. It's a small livable city, but the charm and pull on the heart is enormous. We certainly want to go back and stay much longer, off season of course. :)
So, that's the news from EQ, where the winds (or whirlwinds) are calmly trying to take it all in, the seas (of people) are vast, and the crew in love with the land cruising for a change.
with Equanimity and Joy...