Friday, January 6, 2012

The Merritt's visit Italy: Florence

Fun times in Florence!!!

       Wednesday morning we all loaded up in the Saab and headed towards Florence. We spent our travel time reading about Florence, telling Taylor to slow down, looking at magazines, telling Taylor not to speed up on the turns, doing Texas crossword puzzles, and did I mention that we had to tell Taylor to slow down? 

      Our first stop was the Accademia. The Accademia is an art museum that houses Michelangelo's David. It was way more amazing than I imagined. You walk through the front room, turn the corner into this long corridor-like room and on the other end...17 feet high, bright white, under a dome is David. Ahhhhhhh (Angel's singing)

Unfortunately they do not allow you to take pictures, but Steve snuck one with his iPhone. 

       Michelangelo was 26 years old when he began his work on David in 1501. They gave him a large chunk of marble that other sculptors had rejected as too tall, shallow, and flawed to be of any value. But out of this flawed piece of stone, he made David. It stood outside of the Town hall building for 350 years. You can see a crack on his left arm from when it was broken during a riot in 1527. Can you see the Plexiglas around the statue? It was put up after a guy smashed his feet in 1991. 

After seeing David we walked around down town to see the sights. 


The Medici's were a rich banking family that ruled Florence during the Renaissance.
This was one of their houses.

Obviously they didn't have cars back then, so they would tie
their horses up to these metal rings on the side of the building.


The church was built in the Middles Ages, but they left a giant hole where the dome now is. They did not have the technology at the time to build the dome, so they left it unfinished and waited. In the 1400's a kid named Brunelleschi came along and finished the dome.

The outside of the church was sooo intricate. 

This is one of Steve's videos.

The baptistery is Florence's oldest building. (11th century)

These are one set of the baptistery's doors. Actually they are just copies…the real ones are in the museum. Ghiberti spent 27 years working on these. Each of the squares tells a bible story.

The Triumphal Arch celebrates the unification of Italy in 1870.

The City Hall is in Palazzo Vecchio. Italians, just like everyone else, are always doing construction. I don't know how many pictures I have with cranes or scaffolding in the background. 

The original David did stand in front of this building, but now that it has been moved
into the Accademia, a replica stands in it's place. 

Steve and Susan on Via de' Calzaiuoli, one of the main streets through down town Florence. 

The next day we went to the Uffizi Gallery which is has the "greatest overall collection anywhere of Italian paintings." It housed many of Leonardo's and Michelangelo's paintings and tons of others. Luckily we had Rick Steve's to tell us about the paintings and Susan, our very own artist, to give us that insider artist knowledge. 

This bridge separates the city center from the neighborhood area. The current version of the bridge was built in 1345. 1345 people!!! That is OLD!!!

There are little shops along the bridge.

This was the passageway for the Medici family on the bridge so they could have a private commute from the city center. 

Later that afternoon, Taylor and I walked around the neighborhoods of Florence on the other side of the bridge. These pictures came out really cool. It looks as though I have photo shopped him in.

During WWII Hitler occupied Florence and when he left the city they were supposed to destroy all bridges to cover their retreat. Luckily, the German consul realized the bridge's historic value and had the buildings at either end bombed instead. These ugly buildings are out of place on the other side of the bridge because they were built in the 1950's after the bridge was bombed. 

I love the reflection on the water in these pics. 

Alright…that was a lot of pictures of that bridge, but I thought it was really cool!

There were several artisan shops along Via Toscanella. I snuck a few pictures 
of them working in their shops.

After the Uffizi we went to the Central Market which had lots of fresh vegetables, meat, cheese, and pasta. We had fun walking around and sampling and seeing what the Italians eat. We saw some interesting cuts of meat…actually some of it wouldn't even be a cut…just part of the animal. I included some pictures, but if you have a weak stomach when it comes to raw meat or animal parts then scroll past these. 


Church of San Lorenzo

We spent some time walking through the San Lorenzo Market where all of the stalls of leather are. Lots and lots of leather.

We spotted Usher amongst the leather. 

We ended the day at a Ristorante around the corner from our hotel. 
The food was squisito! 

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