Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Just... wow.

This morning we left Venice for the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Florence. My first impression was the rolling green hills topped with medieval fortresses. I was so enchanted but it was nothing compared to what we saw later.
Walking to our hotel was an adventure on narrow streets with even narrower sidewalks. Cars sped down the dark stone streets, where there were near pedestrian misses every other minute. The central market loomed into the plaza as we attempted to locate a decent gelateria.
How can I describe the central market? Died and went to heaven? That doesn't even begin to cover it. Stall after stall of fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, bread, spices, oils and fish. A cook's dream come true! I wanted to never leave. EVER. But alas, Florence was calling and I needed to go see what's up.
Soon after we found ourselves in the Basilica di San Lorenzo, where many Medici are buried. So is Donatello. It is well associated with the Medici, with soaring ceilings, tall columns, and a fantastic marble altar where Cosimo I is buried in front of.
Walking around the corner on our mission to get to the Uffizi for our 4:30pm pre-booking. (Be a smart traveler, pr-book your tix for free by calling the museum yourself. Don't use a website because they're all a crock. Click here for the info.) Peeking around the corner the Duomo and the Baptistery came out of no where. This is in the top five of most beautiful buildings I've ever seen. The outside of it is so detailed I literally couldn't stop looking at it.
Moving on from catching a quick peek at the Duomo, we found a spot for lunch called La Grotta Guelfa. One word: perfection. 
A funny singing waiter who coaxed Boy Wonder into ordering his lunch in Italian, antipasto of a kind of patè with prosciutto, Tuscan salami, marinated mushrooms and tomatoes with olive oil on crostini. Lunch followed with gnocchi in a gorgonzola sauce with walnuts and spaghetti carbonara. I was having such a happy experience I never wanted it to end!!
On to the Piazza Vecchio where the Neptune fountain stands keeping watch on the crowds waiting to see the Uffizi gallery. We bypassed the crowds who didn't pre-book and got to see our first "real" art: Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" and "Spring", a Michelangelo, some Caravaggios, and my favorites the Fra Angelico and the Fra Fillipo Lippis. 
Today was an exhausting day after getting up so early for the train. I plan on sleeping soundly tonight so I can look good for our "date" with David at l'Accademia! Ha ha ha