Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Florence Day 2: Central Market Food Porn and Surprise Finds

We all met downstairs this morning to grab a quick bite to eat and some coffee. Its been in the 90s here so we wanted to get an early start before the heat wore us down.

We started with the Mercato Centrale which is a ginormous warehouse with individual store stalls selling any food items you can think of. Fish markets, butchers, fresh produce, wine, cheese and bread. Like truffles? Tuscany is home to the best truffles, so you can get olive oils and honeys among other things which are infused with them. Olives you can buy freshly scooped out of water or olive oil, nuts, dried fruit. Its fantastic.

Right outside the Mercato Centrale there is the gauntlet of shopping stalls for leather goods that Florence is known for. These stalls are made for bargaining so don't shop unless you're prepared for it. Remmy wanted a leather backpack that the guy started at €125, I countered with €60 cash, boom. Done.

Next stop was the church of San Lorenzo. This is one of the Medici churches and while it isnt super flashy on the inside, it has many great features such as a carved bronze pulpit made by Donatello. It is attached to a cloister which includes an upstairs library designed by Michelangelo with gorgeous stained glass windows and very odd almost pagan patterned floors. Donatello and the Cosimo the Magnificent are actually buried under San Lorenzo.

Right around the corner is the Duomo, the main cathedral of Florence. Soaring high above the other buildings, its facade decorated with white, green and red marble patterns. The campanile (bell tower) stands beside it, chiming out the Angelus for the entire city to hear. The line to get in was ridiculous so we decided to get a snack and see something else, to come back later after the tour groups were gone.

A short walk away we found the house of Dante Allegheri, author of the major literary work the Divine Comedy. People still use it as apartments! E happened to see a small sign for his church, St Margaret's, where he found inspiration for his writing and he met his wife. That was a nice little find!

Since Sister and her Fiance had eaten dinner the night before and took amazing pictures of a church called Santa Croce, so we decided to check it out. There is a very large square in front of it with only a few shopping stalls scattered ar its edges. It almost looks like a smaller version of the Duomo, with a red brick cloister attached to one side. We hadn't looked up anything on it, just decided to go in to kill time before going back to the Duomo. I'm glad we did because what we found inside totally blew my mind.

Across the floor of the church lay hundred of memorial tablets of the people buried under the floor. Nobles of the Florence, some so old the paint on their crests and engravings have rubbed off. Some have effigies carved in bas relief so you have to be careful where you walk. More important people are buried in highly decorative crypts along the walls. E, Remmy and I walked along reading the plaques. We found plaques for Marconi and Enfermi who were very important to science in the last 100 years. But this didn't compare to the first crypt that blew my mind. The marble gleamed out at us bearing the name Galileus Galileus. In Latin it described his life's studies and I stood there mouth agape not believing what I was seeing. Galileo! Holy crap! Passing a couple important people to the Risorgiamento, we come to the second amazing find. Michelangelo Buonarotti! Red marble plaque with 3 statues of the Muses sitting upon his crypt. It just kept getting better and better. Right next to it was Dante Allegheri and then Niccolo Machiavelli. After sufficiently having a "white girl moment" ("I JUST CAN'T EVEN!") we checked out the small chapels including the Medici chapel.

By then it was quite hot so we had a taxi take us to the Duomo. Since it was quarter to 4 there was no line. Girl Wonder and Remmy went up to see the cupola while E and I waited inside the church. The Duomo is very large, fairly plain on the inside compared to other cathedrals. The attraction is certainly the outside marble decor and the dome. Brunelleschi was definitely a prolific architect and many chapels we've seen were designed by him.

After resting for a couple hours out we went again in search of dinner. Remmy tried the bistecca fiorentino, and we had bufala with prosciutto aling with pork chops. Amazing!

Tomorrow we hit Tuscany for wine tasting.