Crossroads Tour – Florence Final Day

May 8, 2011 – Mother’s Day in Firenze

I wake up at 6:30 AM, but roll back and try to go back to sleep. Forty-five minutes later, a neighbor starts playing Spanish guitar in the lobby just outside my door. There are worse ways to wake up on a Sunday morning… 

I lounge in bed, nursing my blisters and catching up on my journal as Italia news and other programming flash across the TV. A home shopping network selling Iranian carpets (I wish they’d show more of the loom sitting in the corner). Spongebob Squarepants dubbed in Italian. Italy’s version of America’s Got Talent. It’s just as bad here as it is at home.

I venture out for lunch at a pizzeria across the bridge, where I ordered a veggie which includes zucchini, carrot, potato, olives and portabella embedded in a piece of focacia and drizzled with olive oil. I wasn’t brave enough to try the potato pizza…

I walk along the Arno, and up to the Ponte Vecchio to look at gold I cannot afford. On my way I find Signum, a great little shop with handmade journals, sealing wax, and Florentine papers. I buy a pocket calligraphy pen and a multi nub pen that is used to draw scales when you are writing music. I end up at the Loggia where everyone is selling leather bags and folio covers. It’s worth a walk through just to rub the snout of the Boar Fountain and to take in the smell of new leather goods.

A building on the corner is full of bikes. You Must Be Kidding! The book I bought seems to indicate that they’re based on historical models (or artist interpretations): a barber’s bike with its chest of shaving implements; a Cantastorie with a hurdy gurdy strapped to the front; a portrait painter with paintbox on his handlebars and portrait samples over the back fenders; and my favorite, shown here, a Pompiere – a firefighting bicycle. I have boarded the rest of this exhibit to Pinterest.

My next discovery is the Palazzo Vecchio. The ground floor is a public area and covered with some of the most amazing archways in the city, and would inspire one of my hat styles when I returned home.

The ceilings in the courtyard of the Palazzo Vecchio

The Uffizi is hosting an exhibit of the works of DaVinci, and the lines are around the block. I see a “living statue” dressed as a cherub on the steps, posing for pictures. There’s another dressed as an Egyptian sarcophagi, and another posing as a statue from the Duomo…

I hand my camera to a standerby so I can get a photo with the ‘statue’. The crowd starts to gather and giggle. I feel a rustle of cloth and turn to find that the living statue has slowly moved towards me to provide a better photograph. It was really fun to get my camera back, not with one shot, but an entire sequence. The statue was -very- friendly and unwilling to let go of my hand, but I finally made my escape.

The last living statue was DaVinci himself, who, after I deposited a coin in his can, gives me a miniature copy of pulled “Il codice da Vinci dell Economia.” I turn and see that another woman posing with the Duomo statue is also having trouble retrieving her hand from his affectionate grip.

I find the Galileo Museum – the science museum that I will compare to the one I’m seeing in Istanbul. Photography is not allowed, but at least they have a catalog to take home, which I have boarded to Pinterest. Searching high and low through the gift shop for a replica astrolabe, I come up empty handed. It is the singular souvenir I had hoped to bring home from this trip.

The Galileo Science Museum

I’m now looking for the Bardini Mansion that I saw advertised at the Pitti Palace. I stop at a grocer and buy a picnic lunch, which I enjoy in the solitude of the steps of an old fortress wall, which turns out to be the Belvedere Fortress which surrounds the Bardini mansion and its gardens. The artworks I came to see are interesting, though not interesting enough for me to photograph. The next galleries are a completely different story…

It’s a Roberto Capucci exhibit. I know nothing of this designer, but his work is super impressive in both design and detail. I always appreciate visiting mannequins that I can walk completely around. The “Red Bride” below is one of my favorites. I boarded the rest of this exhibit to Pinterest.

Down one of the hallways is a glass door with a view of the city. One of the museum staff kindly unlocks the door and lets me out onto the balcony. Although I was told that the best panorama of Florence was from the Michalangelo —- the best view is actually from the third floor balcony of the Villa Bardini.

Back down at street level, I wander through the delicious Bardini Gardens, and navigate back toward the Ponte Veccio. I see a number of cutaways in the stucco that expose the original parts of the building, an architectural feature that’s a fascinating way to preserve the original architecture.

My final day in Florence is capped by a beautiful sunset on the Arno. By this time tomorrow, I’ll be watching the sunset in Istanbul.

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

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