Falling for Florence

Florence, Firenze to Italians, is fantastically rich. Rich in culture, history, art, music, theatre, you name it. Rich in community, in spirit, liveliness, and authenticity. The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, of famous artists like Michaelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, & the mecca of European art and culture. It is the place thousands of tourists each year flock to, if only to partake in its mesmerizing beauty, witness its breathtaking views, and understand its rich religious and cultural history. From the banks of Arno River to every distinct piazza in town, the grand central mercado, the street musicians, upbeat vendors, and the blocks of designer stores with their array of displays, Firenze is a world all on it’s own.

On our 7-hour drive up north from San Giovanni Rotondo, I was bracing myself. I knew nothing about Florence other than the fact that it is the self-proclaimed “birthplace of art” and that LMU has a study abroad program in the city. A second side-trip away from Rome just meant another hotel, getting used to another city, etc. I was excited, but didn’t know what to expect. For instance, I didn’t even know that Florence was in the region of Tuscany – yes, that Tuscany, Diane Lane’s Under the Tuscan Sun Tuscany, and that meant beautiful scenery and fresh, organic food and oh, of course, the wine. On the drive up, we passed fields upon fields of grape vines and small wineries along the roadside. The mountains were in clear view, and everything looked straight out of a movie. It was a long trip, but at least it was a scenic one.

IMG_5642

DSCN4337

DSCN4375

DSCN4382

IMG_5658

IMG_5633

DSCN4355

IMG_5634

We drove off the highway and into the main part of the city around 5 in the afternoon, early for Italian time. My first glimpses of Firenze were buildings, narrow streets, and a few monuments/cemeteries sprinkled about. Nothing special. But as we drove further and further in, towards the city center, I noticed something different. It wasn’t the cobblestone streets or flocks of tourists milling about from store store. It wasn’t the crazy amount of traffic, of busses and mopeds speeding about as if they own the road. It was the plazas (or piazzas, as the Florentines call them; not to be confused with “pizzas!”), sprawling out on every other corner, large spaces dotted throughout the city where people gathered and musicians played and vendors sold their goods. All of the roads seemed to lead into a piazza, and for a while it reminded me of a huge, untangle-able web. How were we ever going to navigate our way around this place? As soon as we arrived to our hotel–a rustic, authentically-Italian lodging called the Croce di Malta (also located right in the city’s center! So I definitely recommend it for anyone traveling to Florence)–I wanted to collapse on my bed and call it a day. But something else compelled me, & I went exploring. I discovered the hotel had a rooftop bar open in the late afternoons, which not only serves local wines and beers, but provides a breathtaking free view of the city. As soon as I discovered the roof, witnessed its amazing colorful view and got a sense of the “bigger picture” that lay beyond me, I realized… Firenze is magic, in so many different aspects. Photos couldn’t do it justice but here is my attempt at trying to capture what has possibly become my new favorite city in the world. Enjoy! 

DSCN4394
First glimpses of Firenze

DSCN4397

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 12.31.10 AM
Hotel.
IMG_5674
View from the room

IMG_5709

IMG_5813

IMG_5703
discovering the rooftop bar/view.

IMG_5692IMG_5702

IMG_5679

IMG_5682

DSCN4394

IMG_5749
A toast with my uncles!
DSCN4417
Plaza di Santa Maria Novella, right outside our hotel

DSCN4418

DSCN4415
The cutest corgi on the street haha

IMG_5706

DSCN4409

DSCN4399

DSCN4412

cousins!

cousins4
we love to jump!
cousins2
Cousins

 

DSCN4411
Luke
IMG_5718
first dinner in Florence
IMG_5716
One of the best meals I’ve ever had. Caserecce (short, fresh pasta noodles) with shrimp and pesto.
IMG_5715
& of course, what’s a delicious Italian meal without wine?! Sweet Santo Cristina red wine from Tuscany!
DSCN4403
“Lasagna” pizza with fresh ricotta/mozzarella!

DSCN4404

dinnerwfamiglia

DSCN4423

DSCN4429
After-dinner stroll along the Arno River in Firenze
IMG_5723
Weather was perfect, & the sky was the prettiest shade of blue.
cousins3
In line for the best gelato in Florence!
DSCN4442
When it comes to gelateria, the possibilities are endless!
IMG_5736
First scoop black cherry; second mint chocolate chip 🙂
DSCN4432
gorgeous view of the lights along the Arno River.
DSCN4439
nightlife

DSCN4425

IMG_5754
I love you, coffee machine.
IMG_5929
Breakfast at the hotel

IMG_5928

IMG_5914
For my dad. EATALY!
IMG_5913
Early morning view of the Duomo (dome) & Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Saint Mary of the Flower), the main Cathedral of Firenze, before the rush of tourists

IMG_5910

IMG_5921

IMG_5915

IMG_5927

IMG_5834
fancy dinner
IMG_5829
Sauteed salmon with a cream sauce and grilled vegetables

IMG_5820

IMG_5823
it’s perfectly sized!

IMG_5815

IMG_5892
Stumbled upon the most interesting art piece

IMG_5894

IMG_5895
Dat (ash).
IMG_5893
Interesting.
IMG_5855
& photobooths! Photobooths everywhere!
IMG_5860
The Piazza di Vecchio art & architecture museum

IMG_5861IMG_5873

IMG_5903
A replica of Michaelangelo’s famous statue of ‘David,’ set in the original location in the piazza before being moved to an art museum in Florence.

IMG_5870
IMG_5838

IMG_5880

IMG_5948

IMG_5881
falling for Florence

IMG_5887

IMG_5955

IMG_5952

IMG_5960

IMG_5957
selfie w/ Lolo Pete!

DSCN4504

DSCN4493
Clock representing the liturgical year of the Catholic Church
DSCN4508
The interior of the Duomo, scenes from “The Last Judgment” by a compilation of artists, including Donnatello, Zuccaro, and Vasari. Took about 5 years to make. The work depicts the glory of God being risen into heaven.
DSCN4506
The altar (below) is connected to the image of Heaven & eternal life up above. Each level on the painting represents heaven and God’s love for us, especially during the Final Days. The painting includes important figures in the Catholic Church, saints, symbols of love, power, the nature of Time, & death.

IMG_5970

DSCN4494

IMG_6035
Inside the Battistero di San Giovanni, the Baptistery of St. John. This “minor basilica” has a chapel inside that was constructed around 1059-1128 in the Romanesque style. The interior of the roof is a mosaic by Venetian craftsmen, including Cimabue and Coppo di Marcovaldo, depicting magnificent scenes from the last judgment day.
IMG_6043
Donnatello’s statues of the saints

IMG_6051

DSCN4516
Giotto’s Campanile / the belltower.
IMG_6027
Climbing up… the stairs were steep and narrow, & there were people coming from both directions!
DSCN4524
San Giovanni Square
DSCN4532
One of seven bells within the tower

DSCN4521

DSCN4534
high up!

IMG_5973

IMG_5976
view of Firenze / the duomo

DSCN4526
IMG_5971

DSCN4530
IMG_5992

IMG_5993

IMG_6003

IMG_6012
Left my mark!

IMG_6019

IMG_5987
Love locks.

IMG_6011

IMG_5985

(& that was all in just the first two days! More to come, soon.)

With love,
– A

One thought on “Falling for Florence

  1. I am not sure where you’re getting your information, but good topic.
    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.
    Thanks for fantastic information I was looking for this information for my mission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *