Today was our first visit to Florence (Firenze). The forecast predicted snow and cold, so we bundled up in preparation for a cold day, meeting at the train station for the 7:31 train to Firenze. Emerging from our apartment felt like an excursion into a snow globe… complete with an Italian village, cute light posts, and huge swirling flakes.
The Firenze (Florence) train station is much more tame than Rome’s, but it is still an active node of people quickly making their way about the country. Visiting groups gather in clumps while couples and backpackers crisscross around the granite floors. Signs up high on the walls show arrival, departure, and what platform you need to find for the Regionale, Intercity, and bullet trains. So far, our group has made a dash for the McDonald’s every time we get to the big cities. It makes me laugh, but its hard to pass up a quick cheeseburger for 1 euro.
Marco time. Our group meandered around the Duomo, properly known as Santa Maria del Fiore, and we went inside to escape the wind. The red, white, and grey marble floors make in abstract geometric shapes. The walls are much more are than I expected (especially after just seeing the Vatican– which is from another later architectural period…), except for the frescoes that fill the interior of Brunelleschi‘s dome, depicting the Last Judgment. If you don’t know about the history behind the dome, or how it constructed, you should take a few minutes on Wikipedia and read up on it… it is an engineering feat… constructed with no scaffolding and entirely self-supporting as they built it. Did I mention it was the largest dome since the Pantheon?! It is impressive. The craftsmanship of the doors and building façade is also quite amazing. Florence is one of the few cities where craftsmen still master the roots of their trade, and continue with restoration work. (Many churches here are in that process).
During what seemed like the coldest part of the day, we visited Santa Croce. Our toes and fingers were numb as the wind stole our heat. Restoration scaffolding blocked what was behind the altar, but there was more to see in the church. Many famous Italians are buried inside this church: Galileo Galilee, Michelangelo (even though he wanted to be buried in Rome), Alberti, Machiavelli, Rossini, and then an empty tomb for Dante, the famous writer.
We concluded our macro-tour of the city in Pazzi Chapel right nearby, and listening to Marco on the cold stone seats. I will admit, it is hard to enjoy some of these works when the air is bone chilling.
We decided not to stay longer this weekend, so we planned to return on the 17:12 train back to Orvieto. We were a little lost for a bit on our way back to the station, but getting lost is (generally) fun in a city like this. In two weeks we will be back for a complete tour of the Uffizzi Museum, and we plan on staying for more of the weekend. At home I will be able to rest and be sure not to get sick (I’ve been feeling under the weather the past couple days, and I didn’t want to stay in the cold).
Made it home around 10pm (20:00). Warm and cozy. It was a long day.