Friday, September 2, 2022
And even on a cloudy day the vistas here in Florence are quite breathtaking if you’re okay with climbing some hills! Yet as noted by someone in a review on Trip Advisor, “Walking in Florence is walking in an open air museum. Behind every corner there is a nice view, another important building.”
I started my pedestrian adventures by orienting myself to San Lorenzo Market. Along the way I found this fairly new, imposing statue. You can author your own metaphorical caption.
I had been to the leather market the one time I visited son Will his junior year of college when he studied here. It seems so knock off, commercial now – booth after booth after booth after booth…. There is a leather school nearby as well. I walked through the Central Market, an open air offering of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, pastas, meats, olive oils etc. Jet leg still dogging me a bit I went back for a nap!
Wanting to cast my net a little farther out, early afternoon I walked beyond the Duomo in the Central Storico and across the River Arno. The central area has been described as the place where Renaissance architecture and art were born. It is a place that represents the history of Florence and Italy in general and holds more than one can absorb, truly!! Including crowds and crowds of visitors! Today it is a Unesco heritage site.
Eventually I happened upon my first green space (all the benches were taken this hot and humid day) and as I kept walking I could see stairways extending a considerable way up the hillside. Of course I followed them, and eventually I found myself at Plazzale Michelangelo with its huge bronze replica statue of Michelangelo’s famous, “David”! And views back to Central Storico and beyond were beautiful and astounding! It’s mind boggling to stop and reflect upon the centuries of industry and advancements represented in this popular European destination – all the humans that have contributed to our tapestry of life who have lived before us…!!
I enjoyed my meanderings through the little neighborhoods such as San Niccolo, happening by the outside eateries in the working class“Oltrarno” district, back over the River Arno on the Ponte Vecchio, a famous shop lined bridge. From Rick Steves, “Florence and Tuscany” guide book, “Originally these were butcher shops that used the river as a handy disposal system. Then, when the powerful and princely Medici built the Vasari Corridor over the bridge, the stinky meat market was replaced by more elegant gold-and-silver shops, (some of which remain here to this day). The corridor, an elevated passageway above the bridge, was built so the Medici could commute comfortably between the Pitti Palace home and their Palazzo Vecchio offices.”
My last most enjoyable stop before tucking in for an early evening, was the rooftop, Caffè del Verone, perched upon the terrace of the Hospital of the Innocents on Piazza Santissima Annunziata – for more peaceful and amazing views of Florence. I had been through the square multiple times as it’s near to my lodging, yet just found out from Proprietor Barbara about the cafe. What a calming way to conclude my “sight seeing”!
The plaza is a great place to hang out, picnic and people watch. It’s considered the most Renaissance square in Florence, just a block away from the Accademia (where the original “David” statue makes his home). Filippo Brunelleschi’s Hospital of the Innocents, built in the 1420’s, is considered the first Renaissance building. Also from them Rick Steve’s’ guidebook, “ It’s graceful arches and columns, with each set of columns forming a square, embody the quintessence of Renaissance harmony and typified the new aesthetic of calm balance and symmetry. It’s ornamented with terra-cotta medallions by Luca della Robbia – each showing a different way to wrap an infant (swaddled – meant to help babies grow straight, and practiced in Italy until about a century ago). Terra-cotta – made of glazed and painted clay – was a combination of painting and sculpture, durable and economic. For three generations, the Della Robbia family guarded the secret recipe and made their name by bringing this affordable art medium to Florence. With its mission to care for the least among society (parentless or unwanted children), this hospital was also an important symbol of the increasingly humanistic and humanitarian outlook of Renaissance Florence. For four centuries (until 1875), orphans would be left at the “wheel of innocents“ (the small, barred window at the far left of the porch).” There is also a museum in the hospital.
In addition to the hospital you will find the 15th-century Santissima Annunziata church – worth a visit for its Baroque styled interior and early 16th- century frescoes by Andrea del Sarto.