Europe 2012: Day 60 — Florence

Street artists in Florence. This is a common sight — the artist uses chalk to recreate great works of art. When it rains (or when the streets are cleaned), the work dissolves and disappears into the city’s sewer.  I wonder how many years this guy studied art?  (Florence, Italy)

Sunday, 8/5/2012

Woke at 9am.  Sunny and hot!  Really hot!  The iPod says the high today would be 95 but I think it is being conservative.

We leave the hotel around 10am to check out the Sunday markets in Florence.   There are two main markets open on Sunday – the San Lorenzo Street Market (next to the famous indoor Mercato Centrale market that is closed on Sunday) and the Mercato Nuovo, held under a old loggia near the Piazza della Repubblica.  Here are some pictures:

The San Lorenzo Street Market in Florence, Italy.

Lots of leather goods as sold at the San Lorenzo Street Market in Florence, Italy.

Oh, such pretty colors…..

On the way from one market to another — the Piazza Della Repubblica (Florenece, Italy)

The Mercato Nuovo Market in Florence, Italy.

I love the arches! (Mercato Nuovo Market in Florence, Italy)

But I can do without the crowds! (Mercato Nuovo Market in Florence, Italy)

By noon, it is hot and we are hungry!   Since we have a tour to meet at 1:30pm, we decide on a quick lunch at Ristorante Self-Service Leonardo.    This place is like an Italian cafeteria – you grab a tray, you push it down a line as you choose your dishes, and you pay for your meal at the end of the line.   Ristorante Self-Service Leonardo is clean, the food is good, and it is air-conditioned – do we need more than that?

Having lunch at the Ristorante Self-Service Leonardo before our tour of the Uffizi Gallery. (Florence, Italy)

We met our tour group for the Uffizi Gallery on time.   Our guide, Helen, is a young women from England who has an impressive art background including a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design!  She is a painter who moved to Florence four years ago.   She says the experience has been mostly “good” but she did not go into details.  It is a bit sad that someone with all her education has to resort to give tours.   Makes me wonder at the wisdom of investing in a degree in art.

The Uffizi Gallery is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world.  This building was originally the administrative offices of the Medici family, a powerful Italian family of the 14th century.   The Medicis were bankers and controlled the textile industry of northern Italy.  The family had great influence and produced four Popes and two Queens of France.   This building now houses the Medici art collection.  We have been here before but it is always worth another visit.  No photographs are permitted and ya-da, ya-da, ya-da…

Helen was wonderful as a tour guide!   She knew all the important paintings and the stories and symbolism behind them.   She explained the cultural impact of the Medici family.  Apparently this collection of art is the biggest accomplishments of the Medici family who sponsored much of the creation of High Renaissance art and architecture.

After the two hour tour, we hung out at the Uffizi for another two hours, going through all the rooms and paintings we missed.   We spend more time in the  Leonardo da Vinci Room.   The Medicis were Leonardo’s patron for seven years (1452-1519) and this support is seen as a high point in the Medici patronage – without it, there would not have been a Renaissance!   Basically, the Medicis paid Leonardo to be brilliant – and he was!

By the end of our visit, I was dragging!   It was hot and I had been on my feet for hours!   We went back to our hotel room and I took a long nap in our air conditioned room.  Since we had such a good lunch, we skipped dinner.  When it got cooler, we went out for a walk — and got some gelato!

The Duomo at night. (Florence, Italy)

We have an all day private tour tomorrow of Tuscany so we need to conserve our strength — it is supposed to be another hot day tomorrow!

Quote of the day:   “You buy it, you carry it!” — DH to Anna (yes, this quote is a repeat but when I am tempted, I need a reminder). 


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