November 22, 2005

11.22.05-- Diamonds and a Palace

Having seen old bridges before, I didn't expect this bridge that Roberto called "beautiful" to particularly move me in any way. However, it almost moved my wallet in a lot of ways... The Ponte Vecchio is very interesting in that shops are built into the bridge itself. From the outside, it looks almost as if it's an old, slightly tattered, german village. There are a myriad of what appear to be homes on the right, a small look-out area in the middle, and more "homes" on the left. These "homes" are colored orange and brown with green shutters. Very German. Walking onto the bridge, however, is like stepping into a scene from White Christmas (I think. Never saw it, but see ads every year. Just remember Bing Crosby and Glitter...) Both sides of the bridge are lined with shops and shops full of jewelry. Sparkling diamonds, glittery emeralds, gleeming gold-- each shop seems to have better gems than the one before! How could one ever say no? (Don't worry, I did!!) I appeased myself by buying a strawberry gelato at the bottom of the bridge. Instead of the diamond, I settled for a palace. The Pitti Palace was the King's home for a few years when Florence was the Capital of Italy. The King came from the North, settled here, and then eventually moved on to Rome. The palace is breathtaking. It makes the Doge's Palace seem like a trailer home. Of course, the Doge's palace had a very different function, serving as the judicial system as well as the home for the most regal man in Venice. However, the beauty of the Palazio far exceeds the Doge's humble abode. I'll begin with the Ceilings. The Palace now mostly houses art from the 18th and 19th centuries, and often the rooms were so filled with paintings that I forgot to look up. I found myself running back into previous rooms just to crane my neck up towards whatever beauty might lie above. The ceilings were all painted with images of Madonna and Child, the gods (Jupiter and Company) and the stations of the cross. These scenes were all framed in gold carved molding that ran in beautiful designs around the artwork. There were a few rooms that did not feature actual artwork up above. These rooms- the red room, green room and blue room-- were cloacked floor to ceiling in lovely silk curtains. The walls were covered, but then curtains hung over the doors, as if to be lowered at any moment. Curtains were hung and draped for decoration not only at the windows, but at various points in the room, as well. These rooms had silk cushioned sofas, canopied beds and lounge chairs in the same pattern as the curtains. Tiled tables provided much of the artwork for these rooms, though a few portraits did stand out from the expansiveness of the drapes. In these rooms, painting the ceiling would have been too much. But, leaving the ceiling bare would have been unacceptible. Instead, a pattern was drawn, not unlike that of a lace doily, and then highlighted with the color that matched the silk room below-- red, blue or green. It provided just the right accent for these lovely rooms. I discovered how manageable Florence is just by walking back from the Palazio. I meant to pull out my map and determine my location, but by the time I stopped to get around to thinking about pulling it out, I was in front of the Duomo. A simple city that is simply beautiful. For dinner, I went to a little restaurant nearby. Everyone eating there spoke English, but my Italian's getting better, so I tried to speak only Italian with the waiters. I had Carbonara (mom's is still the best...) and the waiter asked me out (of course...) Not a bad dinner, if you ask me...

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