Crossroads Tour – Florence First Day

May 4, 2011. I walk to the train station and find a bus pass. My first blisters appear at 11 AM.

Today it’s the Pitti Palace. I spend an hour in the costume gallery and another hour at their computer, looking at slides of the pieces that are in storage. After an obligatory stop at the Library Store and lunch, I exit the building in time to hear a cacophony of church bells which I capture on a short recording.

Then it’s off to the Boboli Gardens, where I plan to spend the rest of the day. My last trip to Florence ended in this garden, so it’s the official starting point for this trip. The grounds date back to 1550 and cover an extensive area behind the Pitti Palace.

I’m disappointed to find the Island Fountain is locked. I never find the Perseus on Horseback and wonder if it has been removed. I pose for a photo at the base of the columns that support the locked iron gates, topped with marble Capricorns, symbolizing Cosimo Medici. The lemon trees are full of fruit. It’s a very different visit from when I was here last, wearing a parka and fighting to stay warm.

I wander through the cypress arbors that I enjoyed the last time I was here. There are so many birds in this garden…

I return to the Mostaccini Fountain to video-capture the the sound of birds and running water. I walk the length of it, admiring the fantastical heads, of which no two are the same. It was built in the early 1600’s as a water source for birds, which were then hunted with nets.

The Mostaccini Fountain at Boboli Garden.

I find the Porcelain Museum, but I’m more impressed with the view and the maze garden filled with roses and peonies. I locate the Forcone Basin, a collection point for water used to irrigate the grounds. In the center of the Forcone stands a bronze Neptune, dating to 1571 and sculpted by Soldo Lorenzi, originally intended for a garden north of the Pitti Palace, but moved here here in about 1635. It was common for artwork to be commissioned for specific places, and then later moved.

Galileo’s house is supposed to overlook this garden, but I cannot find it, so I decide to walk up to the Piazza Michelangelo and look for the house on my way back.  Just as I’m looking for a place to eat, I find my bus waiting in the parking lot, so I hop on. It seemed like a good idea at the time… I got to see the Strozzi Wall, and a lot of town I didn’t plan or want to see, and spent an hour getting back to the district I recognized.

Back in my room, I pack for Genoa…

It’s been a long day and I am famished. Tonight’s splurge is Dante’s. I order a glass of chianti, bread with olive oil, pappardelle in wild boar sauce, and a nice piece of salmon. The boar is a surprise, I expect it to taste like pork but it’s more like deer.

  • This is an excerpt from my original travel journal. The full text, which includes historical notes and travel tips, is housed at AugustPhoenixHats.com.

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