November 22, 2005

11.22.05-- Love at First Sight

I think I fell in love with Florence the minute I stepped off the train, but my therapist would tell me to explain my feelings so here goes: The train station bustled with life without being too crowded. The street outside was paved in stone, like Venice, but unlike Venice there were cars! The taxi ride to my B&B was minutes and we arrived at the front of the Duomo. Finding my hotel was in such close proximity to the Duomo was a thrill, as it is a big must on my list, but more than that, I love that Florence is like Barcelona in that it is modern, but it remains so true to its heritage. My Inn is run by a lovely man named Roberto. The place is bigger, cleaner, better repaired and friendlier than the Venetian Inn, all for 20 Euros less per night. Because of a scheduling conflict, they had to bump me to a deluxe room, which means I have a balcony and a lovely view of the Duomo. Roberto has already taken care of making sure I get the most of Firenze while I'm here. He booked me reservations at the Uffizi and the Academia tomorrow and he suggested a route of activities for me to follow for today. He even made sure to tell me to zip up my bag before I went outside, just like a dad would!! The city is much more Romantic than Venice. Not so much in the yucky love stuff way, but in the architecture. While walking today, I wandered into several entryways filled with old marble statues. These entryways-- though the word doesn't really do these long, wide, and extremely tall halls justice-- are today often the settings for apartment buildings, though they once housed great palaces or works of art. As a result, the art stayed, but life continued around it. A moment on entrances, while we're on it. Venetian doors are flat, 8-10 feet tall, usually forrest green, and wooden. There are two doors, each perhaps 3 feet wide that stand side to side and together they allow entry into the home. In Florence, the Entrance is an artistic feat. Huge arches, some 20 feet high (or more) start down from above, while the door itself is a 15 foot dark wooden structure that is usually carved into squares. The difference, to me, is the difference between the two cities. While Venice may be the center for "new" culture-- Films, etc-- true art is to be found in Florence. Such was discovered when I stepped into the Piazza di Santa Croce. Wow. Such beauty, such fine details, such insistence in getting the church perfect. 200 years to make it look as perfect as it dose, but they got it. Every piece of wood in the entire Church is carved. Beautiful designs like flowers, starts and crosses. The marble is carved as well, both indoors and outside. The tombs of many revered men rest there-- Michaelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, to name a few-- and each is adorned in such grandeur, without being pompous. Women carved from marble lie weeping on a marble replica of Michaelangelo's tomb. It never ceases to amaze me the patience the Europeans have for completing great works of art-- which is what these great buildings truly are. The Sagrada Familia n Barce was begun in the 1800's, and I won't be alive to see it completed. I tried to search my brain to recall something that had taken equally as long to complete in the US, but came up empty. The only project that comes to mind is Boston's Big Dig, but people are angry about that, and it's only taken 30 years! Imagine if it had taken 200! The church was quite peaceful, especially the tranquil gardens of luscious green grass and pines that sits off to the side of the main structure. It was just the respite I needed to prepare myself for the Ponte Vecchio.

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