Andrea del Sarto, Dante Alighieri, Dante's House, Florence, Hotel L'Orologio, Maso Manzuoli, Michelangelo, Osteria da Pennello, Piazza della Signoria, Podere Ciona, Pontormo, Renaissance, San Lorenzo Market, The David, The Divine Comedy, The Duomo, The Medici Family, The Unfinished Slaves, Tuscany, Vasari's Fresco, Villa Cora
Day 7 – Florence
We enjoyed our last breakfast at Podere Ciona and hugged Franca goodbye. I was so excited to head back to Florence. It is such a beautiful city, and one day just isn’t enough! Even though this trip will only be one more day, it is one more day of experiencing the most beautiful Renaissance city.
After dropping off our luggage at Hotel L’Orologio, we were met by a local guide who would show us the main sites of Florence. Though I had already experienced most of them, it was nice to be able to walk with the group, but enjoy the city in a different way, where you don’t feel the need to listen to every fact about each statue and square. I could just be for a bit.
If readers are more interested to learn some general facts and my past experience in Florence, read Florence and Pisa in a Day from my 2010 experience with my mom.
The most exciting part of the tour for me was that we walked to “Dante’s House.” Those of you who know me know my obsession with Dante and The Divine Comedy, and how the work played a huge role in my college senior thesis. We arrived at his honorary house in Florence. Researchers found out later that Dante actually lived in the same building, but a different part. In fact, he probably lived in the same building where we had lunch, Osteria da Pennello! Frequented by many renowned artists such as Michelangelo, Maso Manzuoli, Pontormo and Andrea del Sarto, the restaurant used to be an ancient art studio of the painter Mariotto Albertinelli. Though historic, the restaurant was small and local, which was even more special.
After lunch we toured the Duomo (which I have to say, though amazing on the outside, its inside is so plain! The Duomo in Siena was much more impressive on the inside, though not as large). One day I would love to go up to the top through the Dome and get a closer look at Vasari’s fresco. He had to paint everything at different scales so that from the ground it looked proportional. Up close we were told that you can barely make out what each object is.
We crossed through San Lorenzo market (leather, leather, and more leather) to get to our conclusion, The Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. I was so thrilled, as last time Mom and I were here the museum was closed. We waited for a bit for our tickets and watched tourists suckered into buying generic posters from street vendors for a fortune before entering the once art student-only museum. Leading up to the David are famous paintings students used to copy in hopes of developing the skills of the greats. Then, you turn a corner, and a hallway with Michelangelo’s series The Unfinished Slaves leads the way to the colossal David. However, before rushing to the main event, you have to stop and admire the figures Michelangelo left, looking as if they are straining to escape the marble that holds them. He is famous for saying that the figures in the marble already exist, and he is just removing the excess from around them. The struggle of man to free himself from his physical constraints and liberate the more enlightened spirit within was part of the philosophy of the time, and his sculptures are a mesmerizing metaphor for this.
Eventually you move toward the gargantuan statue awaiting your attention at the end of the hallway. The replica in Piazza della Signoria is the same size, but because the original is inside, it makes the statue feel even more enormous.
Representing David prior to killing Goliath, Michelangelo places the sling shot behind his back, to emphasize that the defeat was not of just strength, but of cleverness as well. The statue was originally placed in the Piazza della Signoria as symbol of strength and anger. Power resided with individual cities at the time, and Florence was surrounded threatening enemies. The statue had political connotations for the city that had recently cast of the ruling of the Medici family.
Around the statue are paintings with plaques below them describing the renovation process, with photos of how the paintings looked before. I can’t imagine that being my job! So much responsibility. It would totally stress me out.
After the tour Katey and I broke from the group to grab some gelato and wander through San Lorenzo market. We returned to the hotel and were shown to our room and were absolutely blown away. The room itself is larger than both our apartments, and the nicest hotel room either of us had ever stayed in. Decorated in rich mahogany (yes, I said it!), the room was separated into a bedroom, living area, walk in closet, and a huge, marble bathroom. The window looked over the pool (which we aren’t sure is ever used for swimming) that was lit underneath by glowing lights that gradually changed colors. The bathroom also had a bidet (something which I am still too nervous to try), and some strange cleansing oil on a nearby pedestal. The two go together somehow, but neither Katey nor I dared to figure that one out.
We relaxed a bit and got ready for our final farewell dinner, which was held at the beautiful Villa Cora on a hill with the best view of the city. During our cab ride (which was slightly terrifying, I don’t know how people drive with such speed and confidence in medieval streets that are as wide as the car and full of oblivious tourists), we came upon a beautiful structure. All of us pointed in awe, and when we turned in realized that was where we were going! I wish I would have been able to see the Villa in the daylight, because it was spectacular. We were shown to the pool area for some Prosecco and snacks before someone arrived to show us around the Villa. It was like a mini palace! I can’t imagine ever giving it up and turning it into a hotel and restaurant. Each room was a different theme, but all elegant. It had a small elevator so we could go to the roof and see the glow of the city below us. And finally, once we got to our table to eat, there was hardly anyone else in the restaurant, so it felt like a special, private party. And, of course the food was excellent.
After saying our goodbyes to the group and our wonderful guide, we headed back to the hotel for some rest before our early-morning train ride to Rome. Luckily I rubbed Porcellino’s nose to ensure I come back again someday!