Saturday, March 5, 2011

MY ITALIAN ADVENTURE SAGA 12:

FIRENZA



On the morning of the day after, much too early, we took a bus up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. This huge piazza has a beautiful view of all of Firenze—on that clear day, even Fiesole could be seen in the hills beyond. We climbed further up the hill to see San Miniato al Monte, a Romanesque church and monastery. It's facade is a very fine example of inlaid marble work. 

We had to cancel the rest of the day's agenda because a monk took so long showing us their unremarkable monastery that had not even been on our itinerary. After a lunch in a simple trattoria
I went home and fell into bed for a welcome rest.

Next day's session was at the Duomo complex. We toured and discussed the ancient Bapistry (6 - 7C) with its three sets of famous gilded-bronze doors. All of them are finely crafted, but the finest is the “Gate of Paradise” (1420-52) by Ghiberti.  Giotto's “Bell Tower” (1334-59) stands next to the Duomo, which has Brunelleschi's 'center-point of Firenze' “Dome” (1420-36). All three make a mountain of colored marble in bars of white and green, surrounded by oceans of Florentine shops. While walking around he inside of the Duomo, I looked down and jumped back because I was standing on the tomb of Brunelleschi! This Duomo architect is the only non-clergy ever granted the privilege of burial in the cathedral.

Afterwards, we walked to Santa Croce. Lovely! I love walking in Firenze; the streets and courtyards are wonderful. (A trite word but Firenze truly is full-of-wonders.)  New discoveries are made everywhere. As we approached Santa Croce, Giuliano was telling us that Dante was buried there--not true. But I didn't feel I should correct him anymore, I didn't think he liked it. Plus, I was trying not to talk so much, and give the history he was missing. Sometimes though, I would get so excited I could hardly help myself. 

We wanted to see the Pazzi Chapel, but it was closed, naturally. I thought Giuliano should have worked out the schedule better. Giuliano said we would see it on another day. Instead, we walked all the way across town to the Palazzo Davanzati. Fabulous. Along the way, Giuliano stopped at a vinaio (a wine bar with non-heated food), and he treated us to a Lambrusco--fizzy red wine, light and refreshing.

After the Palazzo Davanzati, eight of us struck out to find a place for lunch. I'd already been thinking about Il Paiolo but was debating whether or not to mention it, as it was rather expensive. I described it, and several were interested. So, five of us went: Arnette, Gary, the neat Portuguese girl--Fernanda, “Hat Pat” and me. Il Paiolo was a hit! The food was excellent, and the owner was charming.  He bought unusual herbs and raw vegetables for us to taste or smell. He also showed us various liquors with fruit inside the bottles. At my suggestion, we had Broilo Classico Riserva. Everyone really enjoyed lunch, saying it was the best restaurant they had been to in Italy.  We really had a great time: laughing, yakking with the owner and generally being carefree. We all parted with great thanks. Fernanda said, "Boy, I'm glad I went to the bank this morning!" I said, "Stick with me kid. You'll spend a fortune." We all went laughing down the street.

Gradually, I stopped going to some of the evening classes, cause the lectures weren't that great. But the tours were terrific, and I was enjoying Juliano being so delightfully effusive in his lecturing.  

Next, Fiesole in the hills.

4 comments:

Ron said...

I feel like I'm there!

Don Voth said...

Thanks. I sure enjoyed writing this. It brings back such fond memories! It's written from my heart.

Caliban said...

The Duomo looks very impressive. Did you think so? Poor Juliano, getting everything so wrong. Where is Dante buried, by the way?

Hat Pat is a hoot in that fabulous hat.

Don Voth said...

Dante was thought to be buried in Santa Croce but he's buried in Ravenna, Italy.