Saturday, August 2, 2008

Falling in love with Florence...

There are a million reasons to fall in love with Florence. Here are just a few of mine...

1... Michelangelo's David. It was truly magnificent to witness. It is larger than life (17 feet tall) already, but then they put it in a museum, on a platform, under a large dome built only to highlight it. When you walk through the museum and around the corner, you see it. It sends chills down your spine. Reading Irving Stone's Agony and Ecstasy, a novel about the life of Michelangelo, made it even more significant to me.

Michelangelo carved the David out of a huge piece of Marble that had previously been carved into. It was originally taken from the mountains of Carrera. Nobody else thought that it could be salvaged, because the original cuts were too deep. Michelangelo stepped up and started the project when he was only 26 years old. It took him more than 3 years to complete. For me, seeing this work of art was unforgettable. (The picture above is of the the Carrera was taken as we drove by them. The whites on the hills are white marble, not snow as it appears. In the foreground of the photo is a Marble factory, they line the freeway.)

2... Florence at night...all by myself!
I loved being with everyone, we had so much fun on this trip. President was so wonderful and sweet to drive everywhere, Andre & Pam were fun and we laughed a ton, and I savored every moment spent with Karen. However, when I ventured out on my own one night in Florence, it was marvelous! I originally went to see if the market was still open, which it was and I shopped. Then I grabbed some pizza and started walking with my camera. Luckily I had my little tri-pod with me.

I headed over to the Ponte Vecchio bridge, which is over the Arno river in Florence. We had walked over there the night before and I loved the view. At first, there was the sunset behind it. I started shooting pictures.

Then I walked around a little and a little sliver of a moon started showing up more and more, so I took some pictures of that.

I wanted to walk across the bridge, and I discovered a concert. A great Italian named Claudio Spadi.

I was completely out of cash at the time and couldn't buy his CD for 10 euros, so I took this picture so that I would remember him. Now I can't find his music anywhere. (I shouldn't have spent all my euros at the market…that will teach me.)

So then I wondered what the view on the other side of the bridge might look like.

It was a beautiful night in Florence, I stayed near the bridge for almost 2 hours.

Then, on the way to our hotel (I was actually a bit lost), I found this cathedral, just sitting there. Wow, I love Florence. If it weren't for being worried about President staying up and worrying about me, I would have stayed out all night. I kind of felt like a teenager again! It was fantastic.

3... The markets. Wow, this place was amazing. I was so sad to be on a budget (self-inflicted, I might add). There were streets and streets just lined with booths selling things. They would set them up about 7 a.m. and start taking down around 8 p.m. It was crazy to watch the streets transform.

There were Italian ties, scarves, food, purses, souvenirs, and all kinds of leather! I got some ties for the men in my life and some cute little leather bracelets for the girls. I even splurged on a little red leather purse for me. I loved the markets!


4... The Duomo. You can't even miss this when you go to Florence, I don't think it is possible. It is at the center of the city and so beautiful and grand. The interior is beautiful, but does not compare to the intricate decor on the outside.


5... The Baptistery & The Gates of Paradise. The baptistery is directly across from the Duomo and is also magnificent. The design of the building matches the Duomo. It is famous for it's brass doors. They are so popular, in fact, that I kept trying and trying, in vain, to get a picture of the doors without anyone in front. These are actually replicas of the brass doors, as the originals are in the museum (below). It took 21 year old Ghiberti 21 years to complete these works of art. When Michelangelo saw them he said that they were "fit to be the gates of paradise," and so they have been called ever since.

On a side note, see President Acerson in this picture? We probably ran into 4 different groups of people that were from BYU, Utah, or just fellow Mormons that wanted to visit with President. It was fun to see what a small world it really is.

6... Visiting the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo with my sister. Now, who wouldn't like to spend the day with their sister visiting a museum?

Look at how much fun she was! Actually, we had a great time. I wanted her to sleep in the hotel. She had been up really late for so many nights in a row. But, she insisted on going with me to the museum. She fell asleep the first time on the steps, against a wall.

Then, she was listening to the recording about Michelangelo's second Pieta and I thought she was just listening intently. Nope, dead asleep.

We were able to see many of the original items that had been taken from the facades of the cathedral and baptistery. They were worried about acid rain and vandalism, therefore made duplicates of many important works and moved the originals inside the museum. It is actually much nicer, as you can see them so much closer.

Here are just a few of the brass door panels from the baptistery. Click on them to enlarge and see if you can tell what stories are being told. It is a fun thing to figure out!


7... Our Hotel, the Firenze Suites. Wow, this was the prettiest place we stayed. It is a brand new hotel that is right in the heart of Florence. All the walls were hand-painted and there was a little private courtyard outside. We were literally minutes from everything in Florence. It was so much fun!


Kimbrey said...

It's been so fun looking through your pictures of something I will probably never get to do!
By the way... thanks for cropping the statue of David picture :)

Stacey said...

Your pictures are just so beautiful, the first one looks like a post card! It looks like such a wonderful trip.

Chelle said...

That first photo is absolutely breathtaking. I too have loved looking at all your photos. What a fun vacation to take!

Ellen James said...

OK, I am feeling very guilty, as everyone is complimenting me on a photo that I didn't take! :) The first and second photos I did NOT take. I stole them from the internet. So, Stacey, it probably IS a postcard!

We were always supposed to go to this one area to take pictures of the city of Florence, all those goregeous red roofs, etc. However, we never made it...we actually forgot. I am very sad about it. I wanted a picture that would show the city of Florence, so I used this one (I'm sure taken from that area).

Also, the David one had been taken from the internet (and cropped, you are welcome). We were not allowed to ever photograph the statues. I don't understand why. Very interesting.

Everything else I took myself. OK, now that is off my chest! :)

Stacy said...

i loved florence too! sad you missed out on going to the piazza to take pictures like the one on your blog. It was a beautiful view. There is so much to see and do in italy, you will just have to go back soon with Rick!

pilatesmommy said...

I'm so jealous!!!!! These pics are fabulous!

Deborah said...

I loved reading your blog! I was in Florence last year, too, and also enjoyed listening to Claudio Spadi sing on the Ponte Vecchio. Did you ever find his CD? I bought one when I was there and would be happy to make a copy for you.

Ellen James said...


I can't seem to click on your name to email you, so hopefully you will see this post. I would LOVE a copy of his CD! I had even emailed him and he said he would send one, but I didn't ever get one. He didn't speak very much english, so maybe something got lost in the translation! If you want to email me, I will give you an address to send it. That would be so awesome! Thanks!