Can you come with us? Further, culture, gastronomy and a lot emotion!
The Arrival in Florence on a December afternoon is cold but intense. The entrance from the Arno river is revealing domes and sumptuous buildings of yesteryear that bring us closer to the Medici era. This noble family made it the cradle of art, but it also filled it with plots, conspiracies and cravings for power at 360 degrees.
Florence, with its Vecchio bridge, its palaces, its majestic cathedral visible from almost every corner. Florence full of sculptures, paintings, human beings who loved each other in silence and shouting ... My sudden Stendhal syndrome does not take long to surface. Facing the Palazzo Vecchio, its lights, its clock and the music of an improvised artist they squeeze my heart, speed up their heart rate until my eyes fill with tears. What reason was the composer, beauty can excite you.
We pass under the arches of the New Market (The positions are currently few and are closing, although formerly they sold silk and other precious items). We salute your little pig, il Porcellino, who is watching the fountain. Tradition says that you have to put a coin in your mouth to get good luck and to return to Florence.
Shot from Giuseppe's hand, I make walk all the streets. Christmas lights flow like waterfalls over our heads and buildings. I let myself go for the moment. The stone facade of the cathedral is immaculate, magnificent. The bridge, great engineering work of its time. We walk each street adrift in a second encounter with the city (from the first I have a vague memory). The cool of the night assails us and we decided to take refuge for dinner in a small restaurant not especially central where it is best to ask the waiter for advice. We opted for mixed toasts, “bruschette miste”, to open your mouth (Italian oil, never disappoints) and we ordered two delicious pasta dishes to warm up.QUICK TIPS ON FLORENCE:
- GASTRONOMY: If you go to Florence, you are a meat lover and enter your budget, do not forget to try “la fiorentina”. It is a tasty steak that you can cook yourself. It is the workhorse of its gastronomy. TO
- ACCOMMODATION: It will always depend on your budget. Choose a downtown hotel with a terrace. It is worth going up to take a look.
- TRANSPORTS: It is a city not especially large. If you include it in a larger tour, I advise you to leave the car in a parking lot in the center. It is not excessively expensive, they take the car to a depot and bring it to you whenever you want. You avoid fines from going through restricted areas that are sometimes not indicated by browsers
A little walk to digest? We take a street that takes us to the Plaza de la church of Santa Croce (of beautiful facade) and suddenly we appear in the middle of a Christmas market. It is a simple and familiar place with a young atmosphere where you can hear speaking in many different languages. You can try typical food and sweets from European countries such as Poland or Germany and buy small crafts from this period (candles or ornaments for the tree). We eat a couple of churros (that's why the morriña) and in a little while on foot we are at the hotel.
You can not miss a visit to the terrace before going to bed. What a beautiful Florence with its lights from above!
¡Up up! Second day in Florence
After dreaming about the angels and the breakfast buffet in front, I explain to Giuseppe the visits of the day. It's quite early, it's half past seven. We want to take advantage of it. We think about dedicating ourselves in the morning to complex of the cathedral, in the afternoon to the Academy and especially to wander and stop where we want. We have been very lucky because a splendid sunny day awaits us.
The previous night We get tickets for everything online and reserve the schedule to climb the dome of the cathedral. I insist, December is a time of low tourist flow and we do not like waiting for queues, but in high season this method is highly recommended. Why waste your time at a box office if you can be enjoying a good coffee or an Italian ice cream? The entrance costs about 18 euros and you can visit the cathedral, the dome, the museum, the baptistery and the bell tower of Giotto.
We start with him Baptistery of San Giovanni, that about eight o'clock in the morning is open. It is a symbolic building of the city and really endearing. Its construction was done on Roman foundations and its shape is almost octagonal. It is covered with the typical marble of the region. The bronze doors that were added showed the importance of this place for Catholic Florentines who were baptized there, it is said that until the nineteenth century. These doors, made at various times by the best sculptors and artisans of their time, represent scenes of the old and the new testament and can be seen in the museum as they were removed from the building because of their deterioration for conservation. The Door of Paradise, which was the one that looked towards the cathedral, was named for the great artistic and artisanal prestige that it reached as Ghiberti's work in the Renaissance.
We sat on a wooden bench and stayed hypnotized looking at the ceiling mosaics. Made between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries they represent religious stories and are divided into different sections and levels. The images on the final judgment stand out. I think about Grandma Maria. I know she would have loved to visit a city like Florence with us.
I get excited and I propose to Giuseppe, Giotto's bell tower. There is still no soul on the street. Florence sleeps and we can take the opportunity to breathe the serenity of other times. The bells ring, I imagine people in robes and velvet running through the streets silently. We greet the employee of the entrance who perceives my illusion and little by little we begin with the steps. One, two, three and four ... As a child, I look out from every landing to contemplate Florence. Gius watches me, with his eyes of water and smiles outside and inside. The bell tower is called as the painter, Giotto, but three architects really projected it. The second was he, from whom he received his name, although his design was much more ambitious. He intended to reach 115 meters. The bell tower measures 84.70 meters and has 441 steps. If you have planned the dome for later or it is hot, better to climb ... slowly! And there we are, on high, seeing the awakening of others.
It's ten o'clock and we're going downstairs. We have to be ready at 11 in the side door for the visit to the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore (There is no loss because they have placed posters around the cathedral). Why is this place so special? I must say that the view of the city is second to none. But not only the outside, it is amazing to discover how they built it. If you look inside the temple you get goosebumps. You can see the frescoes while walking through it. Brunelleschi, the architect who designed it, drawing on the great Greco-Latin classics, decided to devise a very elaborate system to be able to withstand tremendous structure at that height. It took him a long time to think about how to do it, but he got the dome to stand almost alone without using large pillars. In its time it was the largest in the world, later it would be surpassed by others such as St. Peter's in the Vatican or St. Paul's in London. We left there delighted!
Is it worth the museum? Of course! If you want to see the authentic doors of the baptistery, stop by the museum. They have great detail. Needless to say for art history lovers.
All roads lead ... to David
We have already visited the entire complex and it is time to eat. We are going to look for a restaurant with a menu of the day. Prices in Florence are quite high, but at lunchtime you can find places with a fixed menu. If you are in a hurry of time, you can stop to buy a snack (in Italy I recommend the mortadella) or a piece of pizza. We opted for a couple of complete salads and pizza to share for about twenty-five euros. We like to sit and watch the universe from the window. Then we have tickets to the Academy.
In this visit we will not see the Galleria degli Uffizi, which is a “must” with its 45 rooms and where, if you stay several days, it is worth entering to enjoy some of the works of Botticelli, Caravaggio or Titian. The facade and gallery itself are truly attractive. On a next trip we will stop at it and inside the Vecchio and Pitti palaces. Lovers of intrigue and history will surely be interested in both, also Ponte Vecchio. Vecchio Palace is a symbol of the city's civil power and dates back to the 13th century. It was the residence of Cosimo I de los Medici that expanded and improved it with the collaboration of Buontalenti and Vasari. When this character moved to Palazzo Pitti (also very interesting), Palazzo Vecchio received his current name. In the nineteenth century it became the seat of government until today it becomes the town hall.
Back here, photo over there and a second encounter with the Vecchio bridge. It is another of the emblematic elements of the city. It is striking that today is attributed a somewhat romantic context. It is said that it was the first bridge in Florence and that the floods (which have threatened its integrity over time) have led to its multiple reconstructions since the 10th century. What not everyone knows is that in the 15th century in This bridge was isolated butchers to avoid bad smells in the city center. It was in the 16th century when the architect Vasari built a passage for the Medici to communicate the Vecchio and Pitti palaces across the bridge. Since then its use changed and it was occupied by small goldsmiths and artisan workshops that still exist today. We can also see a statue of the sculptor Benvenuto Cellini where the lovers (as in many other Italian cities) have decided to hang their locks. Love was, they say, the one that made Hitler save this bridge from bombing in World War II. And we, of course, we fall in love with him, his faint colors and his special charm ... The time has come to put on the way to the Academy
We hurry with a single objective: see the sculpture of David by Michelangelo (work par excellence of the Italian Renaissance, 1501-1504). The curiosities about her and all her characteristics are innumerable. It would be necessary to write a unique article only about him. We are satisfied to sit and admire its dimensions and perfection.
It's getting dark and we're going to have to set course for our new destination, San Gimignano. Although before, we want to go through the Gothic basilica of Santa Maria Novella. Built and modified since the thirteenth century, its Dominican origin stands out, its frescoes representing medieval scenes and the Spanish chapel, place of worship dedicated to the woman of Cosimo I de Medici, Leonor de Toledo (16th century). Two artistic works to admire inside: La Trinidad (Masaccio) and the Crucifjo (Brunelleschi).
A simple call to pick up our car that will take us with the GPS to San Gimignano. You will wonder why this little town. To leave the topic and see something of the Tuscan rural. San Gimignano is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and is UNESCO for its authenticity as an architectural and landscape complex. They call it the town of the beautiful towers and it is full of legends and mysteries. The senior keys told us about him, so we went to explore him. Our goal this time ... climb its towers!HOW TO GET FROM SANTO GIMIGNANO FROM FLORENCE? If you go by car, phenomenal (beware that you have to park outside the walls), if you go with an organized trip you will be approached. On your own, you can reach Poggibonsi by train and then from there bus 130.
The accommodation chosen was beautiful and they treated us like kings. We had an offer last minute of a double room and when we arrived we were offered the superior suite apartment for that night. It is Palazo Mari and its owner gave us directions on how to get there, where to leave the car, restaurants, things to see ... That's how nice it is! As we were a little starving, we wandered looking for a place to dine. In the end a mini restaurant (among those suggested) that served as a specialty different types of meat. For the quality offered, reasonable price. It was called Rigoletto and it was tiny, but with a fabulous homemade meal. The meat to suck your fingers! The surprise awaited us back home, especially to me that I am a big fan of Christmas parties.
Walking against the icy wind of the night, we stop at the main square to contemplate its steep towers and voilà! the tree lights went on. They were testing the lighting and we, at the right time, in the right place. I jump for joy and enjoy the coincidence! Gius couldn't help but laugh. I was possessed! Quiet and with the wifi in the room, we schedule visits to places of interest for the next morning.
The towers of San Gimignano
San Gimignano used to have 72 towers and that's why they called it the Medieval Manhatan. Today there are about 13. An interesting one is the Rognosa Tower which is the seat of his town hall. The height of the towers represented the power of the noble families of the time and a law prohibited them from exceeding 51 meters. The Rognosa Tower, built on 1,200, was used as a prison and is not suitable for those suffering from vertigo. It is one of our panoramic goals this weekend. As we have bought a ticket for all the monuments of the city, we go upstairs with energy. No one can stop us until we reach the rooftop. We have had breakfast in the cafeteria of the Italian square: cappuccino and croissant. What a view! My mamma! A landscape of those that describe you in stories.
On a visit to this town you can't miss its religious architecture With its 12th-century Romanesque collegiate church full of incredible frescoes in the central square, the church of Sant 'Agostino and the Peve di Santa Maria. As for the civil buildings, they stand out from the Palazzo del Podestà town hall, the civic museum with its room dedicated to Dante and the Piazza della Cisterna.
There are many mysteries and legends in San Gimignano, in a corner of the Piazza della Cisterna they say that there is the Torre del Diavolo. They say that the owner when he returned from a trip found that he was taller than before. They said it was the devil. The cistern itself or well was the most important place in the commercial life of the town as the markets around it were held and the main stores were. All the buildings in the square are very beautiful. Tourists in summer stop to eat an ice cream in their multiple ice cream parlors. We skipped it, that on Monday you have to go to work, to be able to be ... without a cold.
Better something warm ... After this cultural morning, it is a good idea a place to try the "ribollita", certainly a winter dish. I think of my brother Isaac who is a tureen. Surely you would like it! A stew of "cooked" vegetables (vegetables and cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, sedana) and hard bread. To make it tastier, sometimes they add bacon. Gius is satisfied. We chatted a while with the waiter of this small place that tells us how he has prepared lunch.
The weekend is over! Road, blanket and beautiful images in our retina of a magical Florence to which we will return shortly and of a typical village, San Gimignano.Next time we come down from the clouds to tell you something else. Tuscan kisses!
Miri (the “Benjamina Keys”) and Gius, from Florence and San Gimignano