Sunday, 22 June 2008

Florence: Golf, Football and Skeletons

We'd like to consider ourselves relatively well informed about the places we have been visiting - their historical importance and so on. Florence took us a bit by surprise though; despite both of us having studied history I don't think either of us quite realised just how great a role Florence played, not just in Italian affairs, but in shaping the world, for it truly was the birthplace of the Renaissance. The amount of art gathered here is truly staggering - we didn't even attempt to see it all, though we did go and marvel at the original David which even after clocking both the replicas was still astounding. (The 10 euro entry price made us appreciate the free entry to London museums like never before.) The Duomo's facade and dome are remarkably beautiful, though after the marvels of the interior of Siena's Duomo, the interior here struck us as slightly austere and understated, though there were beautiful frescos and paintings to be found there and in other neighbourhood churches we ventured into.

The sheer wealth that must have once resided here must have been exceptional at one time and beyond even the conception of most Florentine contemporaries. This home of Dante, Giotto, Petrarch and Michelangelo is filled with beautiful townhouses, their eaves overhanging the narrow streets to give some respite from the baking sun, which was cooking at 9am and 6pm, and pretty well unbearable at midday. The Ponte Vecchio, still lined with jewelers had a charm that survived the hordes of hawkers and crowds of tourists that rivaled Rome.There were surprises and treats everywhere; a museum of musical instruments, including one of the earliest pianos; a missed bus stop which resulted in us watching the sun set over the city from the heights of Piazzale Michelangelo; discovering quite by chance that on the second evening we were there a large street party, Bianco Notti, would be taking place in the old town around Palazzo Pitti to celebrate (we presumed) the summer solstice; once there stumbling upon a University Museum still open at 11pm on a Saturday and filled with animal skeletons of all shapes and sizes. Florence is a truly magical and surprising city.

If only the campsite had had a swimming pool!! It was baking - by 8am the sun was already high in the sky with the tarmac radiating heat, and at night we were sleeping on top of the covers. The campsite did however have amazing views over the city, which led to the rather incongruous juxtaposition of the illuminated dome of the Cathedral with the bar's big screen showing a rather dull football match between Turkey and Croatia. Loosing interest (in the match not the view) we made friends with Damon and Hannah, two Mancunians spending a month riding the rails around Europe. They taught us a new card game - Golf - which I managed to loose quite spectacularly just in time for the equally spectacular end to an otherwise dull match - two goals in the final two minutes of injury time followed by a penalty shoot out, which Turkey won. Another surprising turn of events.

No comments:

Post a Comment