Chiesa st. croce
Image by smiling_da_vinci
In October of 1995 I visited Florence for the first time. I spent 4 days of running around from church to museum and museum to church to soak up as much of the rich renaissance culture as I could. In Septermber I am planning to go back again. This time for a trip to a few cities in Tuscany. Florence will without a doubt be a big part of that trip too. I am already reading about its history again to expend my knowledge. Below you can read the diary of the first trip.
October 4th 1995, 10.23 a.m.
Well, I finaly got on the aeroplane. After solving a small problem when I wanted to collect my ticket and checking if I did not forget my money and passport, it finally is time to celebrate my holiday.
20.38 a.m. Ready to spent the first night in Florence.
Roughly 10 hours after I arrived in this beautiful city on the shores of the Arno river I am in bed already. I am not the type of guy that spends his lonely nights in some foreign bar, and of course it saves money. My budget is not as high as I want it to be and I noticed that life here is not very cheap. Certainly not if you want to spend the day walking from one museum to another. After I arrived in the hotel I tried to call my mom and dad, but the phone did not listen to what I wanted. When I asked for help, the receptionist did not seem to understand what I wanted, or maybe I did not understand him.
Anyway, I spend the first day wandering through the city trying to find all the famous places. Initially I only visited the Baptistery. The doors of this building were made by Pisano and Ghiberti. They are made of guilded bronze. In the dome of the baptistery are some Gothic paintings depicting scenes from the life of St John the Baptist. He is the patron-saint of Florence. The next thing I did was vist the Cathedral (Duomo). And if I thought that the Cathedral in Antwerp or the one in Leiden was big, I now know I was wrong. Very wrong! On the floor there are some beautiful geometric mosaics in marble. On one of the walls there is a huge fresco painted by Paolo Uccello in 1436. It is in honour of Sir John Hawkwood. An English mercenary who fought in some of the wars for Florence. According to my travelling guide it was the habit of cities to commemorate their hero’s by erecting enormous statues. The fact that Hawkwood had to be satisfied with just a frescoe is explained as Florentine cheapness. In the dome of the Cathedral are some beautiful paintings as well. But they are hard to see because of the poor light.
Unfortunatelly it was too late to get into the dome. ‘To climb it’, would be a better expression since there ar 436 steps around the dome that measures 40 metres across. I think I will do this some other time… Perhaps…
In the crypt of the Duomo are the remains of the Santa Reparata. The church that stood in this place before the present Cathedral. Brunelleschi’s grave is in there as well. I’ll save it for tomorrow.
The minute after I stepped out of the Cathedral my next thought was:"And where is this famous tower that Giotto build?", this was by far thé most clever thought until then (NOT!). As I was standing right in front of it and it was an enormous building I simply did not see it!!! When I read that you had to climb 285 steps to get to the top I thought:"I will save that for tomorrow too!"
After wandering through the city for a couple of hours I suddenly found myself standing in front of the Museo dell’ Opera del’ Duomo. In this museum the statues meant for the walls of the Duomo made by Donatello, Pisano and others are exhibited. Nowadays they have been replaced by copies for preservation reasons. Pisano, by the way, finished building Giotto’s tower after the death of the latter in 1331. Furthermore there are some handwritten bibles relics in luxurious wrapping and all kinds of church-treasures. The most impressive thing was a Piëta by Michelangelo. In it the artist depicted himself as Nicodemus.
In the mean time it was about 5.00 P.M. Time for something to eat. My dinner of this day existed of a large Cola and three sandwiches with smoked ham. At night I spent some time with a few Americans on the Piazza della Signoria. They were drawing, playing guitar and singing. After a while I walked to the Ponte Vecchio. As soon as I got there it started raining cats and dogs so I hurried my way back to the hotel, which is some 30 minutes from where I was. Tomorrow is another day. Before I go to sleep, I’ll write some postcards and maybe I will read a bit.
22.03 p.m., It’s still October 4th.
I wrote the postcard, counted my money. Now I’m going to take a shower and afterwards I will read something. Goodnight.
I had :L 291.000,–
Now there is left: L 218.150,–
So I spent: L 73.850,– Wow, I feel like a big spender!
October 5th, 7.45 a.m.
At 5.30 a.m. I woke up because of the traffic noisses. Since a few minutes I hear some whispering sounds in the rooms next to me as well. It is time to get up.
I just had a shower and I kind of flooded the bathroom. There is a terrible amount of Chlorine in the water. It makes me sick. It still rains outside
8.50 a.m. In my hotelroom again after breakfast.
Ready for a second day of sight-seeing. Uffizi here I come! Oh, by the way, the coffee I had with breakfast was delicious. How is it possible with that much Chlorine in the water.
10.43 a.m. Palazzo Vecchio.
Right now I am in the atrium of the Palazzo Vecchio. Verrrocchio’s little fountain is admired by a group of Italian tourists while their video cameras are zooming like bees. A few minutes ago I had an espresso on a nice terrace. I was served by a grumpy waiter in a tuxedo. The price I had to pay was not as high as I expected, in spite of the tuxedo, L 4.500,–. Because of his ‘cheerful’ mood I gave him a tip of 25 cents (250 lires). Ha, ha, ha. When he thanked me for it he looked at me as if he had just been eating a slice of lemon.
This morning I briefly visited the Santa Reparata crypt. It was not really worth the bother considering the price of L 3.000,–. There were still parts of Byzantine mosaics and some parts of the wall were visible, and of course there was Brunelleschi’s grave. He is the architect who practically built half of the Italian buildings during the Renaissance. His grave was amazingly simple compared to the graves of other famous people. It existed of a sandstone sarcophagus covered by a black marble stone with an inscription in Latin.
After this I visited a very small church called Or San Michele. It was loaded with beautiful frescoes that covered the larger part of the ceiling and columns. It was not much larger than 10 by 10 meters,but because of the atmosphere it was far more impressive than the Duomo. In spite of the fact that it was under reconstruction for a very large part.
O.K. Back to the Palazzo Vecchio. It was built around the year 1560 by Vasari. Oops, sorry, my mistake. That is the Ufizzi. More about that later on. Just the frescoes in the atrium are made by Vasari. The occasion was the marriage of Francesco De Medici and Joanna of Austria (1565). The frescoes depict cities in Austria. It was meant to be a remedy for Joanna who was very homesick. If it did any good is not mentioned in my guide. Let’s get in. I am really looking forward to it!
Oh, no! Why me! Today is Thursday and I just discovered that the Palazzo is closed today! Well then. Let’s try the Ufizzi. It is 11.15 a.m.
Gee!!! There is a line of about 200 meters!!!
I wil try again later. In the meanwhile I will walk to the Ponte Vecchio, then I will have to change my plans, Otherwise I will never spend this day in a useful way!!!