I have never been able to explain why this city comforts me, welcomes me. Why not Rome, one of the greatest cities in the world, according to some? Why not Venice, my mother’s favorite? And of course there is always Paris . . . with an atmosphere all its own . . . . Somehow, if I were to live in a city out of our country, it would have to be Florence, my first choice.
There is something magical about Florence, something intimate and soft, as well as historical and cultural. There are two piazzas in close proximity to our hotel, the Albergo Pendini. One is directly below my bedroom window, the Piazza della Repubblica.
The other is perhaps six blocks away, an easy walk, the Piazza della Signoria . . . the one with the Fake David. That’s how we always identify it, but it is much more than that. Bernini statures, the Palazzo Vecchio, the entrance to the Ufizzi, the cobblestone street that leads directly to the Ponte Vecchio.
And the magnificent Duomo is only a few blocks from our hotel. I only have to walk for perhaps three minutes, turn left, and in another two or three blocks, there is the breath-taking view of it.
We are spending more time here than I have ever stayed in one visit. Five nights, thus nearly five full days this time. And it makes no sense to give a blow-by-blow description of everything we will do in this five days. We began the way I always do . . . a visit to the Piazzale Michelangelo, as you read in the last post. That was Wednesday afternoon and evening.
Thursday morning, we meet Elena, a lovely young woman who is my walking guide when I come with a group. She gives us a bit of history as we walk through the sections of the city near the Duomo, near the Arno, near the fancy shopping street, and her lilting English makes me smile. She knows that we will end near the Antinori Cantinetta for lunch, so she plans her route accordingly.
The lunch is magnificent as usual, in the small and intimate restaurant owned by the largest wine-producing family in all of Italy. Service is impeccable, the prices match the quality of food and wine, and everyone is satiated. The San Lorenzo market is nearby and some of my travelers head there to look for a wide array of gifts displayed at colorful booths before they head back to our hotel again. The Pendini is in close proximity to nearly everything we want to do in this favorite city. Fifteen minutes of walking will get you anywhere you want to go within the old walls.
On this trip my women will visit the Medici Chapel to see ancient mosaic ceilings and floors, sculptures of Michelangelo in the Medici, the piazzas, and of course at the Accademia, where the real David stands in all his glory, at the end of a hallway lined by The Prisoners, also Michelangelo created. Though photos are not allowed anymore, someone snuck one in quickly!
The Uffizi is full of early art, for those who have never been there, and for those whose eyes are able to take in an enormous number of paintings and sculptures by the masters . . . Caraveggio, Boticelli, da Vinci, Giotto, Titian, and of course, at least one piece by Michelangelo.
But I, like the Doobie Brothers, I am taking it to the streets. Wandering through the winding roads is my favorite pastime, stopping when I see an inviting café (a bar, they call it in Italy) where I can have a cappuccino and something sweet, just for a moment, trying out my meager Italian as I order what I’d like. Stopping at a market, buying a basket of strawberries, bright red in their freshness, and asking, “Quanto costa?”, then giving the vendor two Euro or three, eating the fruit along my journey.
More on bella Firenze soon.
9/13 – 6.65 miles logged on my pedometer