Renaissance Man

Florence was the city I was least impressed with on my first visit.  This time, as an older and more mature person, I appreciated it a lot more.  What makes this revelation bittersweet was that we only had one REAL day to experience it; other days were travel days.  Augh!  On top of that, poor Indi was sidelined with a head cold for the better part of that day.  And it was cold and rainy.  But what am I doing complaining?  It’s ITALY!
I set out in the morning by myself, hoping to avoid the crowds.  What I did not realize is that it was a national holiday in Italy and the people were out in force.  I battled the crowds of humanity through the narrow streets towards my first destination:  The Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, aka Duomo.  It was built between 1296 and 1436 and is the largest brick dome ever constructed.  It is an example of ‘technology forcing’ as nobody knew how to build it when it was first designed, but the resulting advancements from the construction helped usher in a new era.  Florence is considered the home of the Renaissance and there are countless artisans and famous names that lived there or spent considerable time as a Florentine.
Once I soaked in the sight of the Duomo, I decided to get a better look at Florence as a whole.  The bell tower just to the right of the cathedral has a viewing deck at the top, so I figured, ‘Hey, no problem!’  414 stairs later, I was thinking, ‘Big problem!’  I’m still not in great shape and those stairs were nearly the end of me.  The view was totally worth it, though.  While I was up there, ten o’clock struck and the entire city let everyone know:
It was breathtaking.
After resting (a while) and journeying back down the bell tower, I walked to the nearby Palazzo Vecchio, which is home to a museum and a copy of Michelangelo’s David out front (since that was his original location.)  I admired some of the nearby sculptures (including the shocking, ‘The Rape of the Sabine Women’) and enjoying taking pictures of the enormous outdoor clock.  Just around the corner from that is Ponte Vecchio, a world-famous bridge crossing the Arno River lined with shops.
I was on my way back to the hotel to check on Indi when I came across a small car show in the Piazza della Reppublica. I spent a decent amount of time admiring many old cars and motorcycles, including a 1958 Lincoln Continental Mark III (pink even!) and an 1899 motorized tricycle!  Some great pictures of ’em all over on Flickr.
After grabbing some lunch and meeting up with Indi, we had a leisurely walk around town together and enjoyed a few more sights before settling back at the hotel and enjoying a few creature comforts (hot shower OMG) before retiring.
The next day was a travel day, which took us to Venice, which is where we are now.  Can’t wait to tell you all about it!

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