Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Destination: Florence (Italy)


It was almost two years ago that I ventured off to Europe for a solo journey to Italy. While I spent most of my time in Rome (and Vatican City), a day trip to Florence was a must. With a train ticket in hand, I took off for Firenze, home of Brunelleschi's fame dome. Here a quick visual recap of that day. 

Florence Cathedral



Locally known as the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore (Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower), the Florence Cathedral looms large over the city. It is an unmistakable complex, located in Piazza del Duomo, and also includes the Baptistery and Giotto's Campanile. Construction began way back when in 1296, and was finally completed under Brunelleschi's watch in 1436. That story itself has been the subject of much literature, including Kings's "Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture" (which was an AP European History assignment back in high school). National Geographic did a nice summary of issues surrounding its construction here.

The inside of the Cathedral is remarkable, but any visit would be incomplete without an ascent to the duomo itself. The views of the city and surrounding countryside were simply marvelous.




I was pleasantly shocked when, on the inside of the Cathedral, I came across this piece, "La commedia illumina Firenze," by Domenico di Michelino. It celebrates Dante, one of Florence's literary stars, holding his "Divine Comedy" with various scenes depicted in the background. However, despite the many famous Italian historical figures buried in Florence, Dante's body remains in Ravenna, where Dante spent his final years. He was exiled for political reasons from Florence, and Ravenna has refused to return his remains.

"La commedia illumina Firenze," by Domenico di Michelino

Museo Galileo


The museum dedicated to Galileo was a fascinating tribute both to the man and the thinking that his work inspired for generations afterward. His clashes with the Catholic Church over scientific teachings was ultimately more of a personal grudge, but it has defined the conversation of science vs. religion for centuries. 

Most of the crowds in downtown Florence flocked to the Uffizi Gallery, which houses countless gems from the Renaissance and other periods. However, the monument to scientific thought within the Galileo museum was quite impressive, and did a complete job of recording his impact on so many different areas of thought and research.

Galileo's finger. For whatever reason, I vividly remember learning about this during grade school, so I was perhaps overly excited to see it in person.


Other highlights

Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross). Also referred to as the Temple of the Italian Glories, as many of Italy's most famous men, including Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Rossini, and others, are buried here.
Chiesa di Santa Margherita de' Cerchi, best known as Dante's church. Fairly small church, and tucked away in a small side street.

Piazzale degli Uffizi. The world famous Uffizi Gallery is right here...which I did not get to see. Probably number one on my things to do upon returning to Florence.
Of course, since this is Italy, there are lots of statues of naked men standing in fountains.


Florence fulfilled every expectation of mine, and really deserved more than 10 hours of a visit. I also missed out on a lot of the food options, as I was busy hustling through the many churches and the Galileo museum. Even so, I was very happy that I was able to squeeze in a visit to the lovely capital of Tuscany.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the nice read and the great pictures. As the song goes "...and I think to myself, what a wonderful world..."

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