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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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September 26, 2009

Thursday - Last Day in Florence for a Few Days

I needed to buy my bus ticket to Greve and asked Antonio if there was any place I could do that besides at the train station which would be quite a hike. He told me how to get to Porta Romana where there was a place I could get one. So that was a new morning walk for me. Very pleasant, of course, and kind of fun to actually have an errand to run. I got my bus ticket plus a return ticket and am all set now for my trip into Chianti country. Oh, and I can catch the bus there also so I don't have to go to the train station for that either. I have no idea what the statue represents, but that woman is carrying a heavy load!

A good place to buy a bus ticket!

The Morning Walk - A Courtyard

The Morning Walk - A Plain Old Building with Beautiful Frescoe

Once that was accomplished, I set off for Florence city again with a little less planned than usual. I wanted to visit the Davanzati Museum and go back to the Duomo to see the baptistery and cathedral interior. On the way to the museum I was headed down the expensive “Pucci” street and came to an intersection where barricades had been set up to close off a block or so, and they were gtting ready for some kind of event - putting out planters with bushes which they wrapped in red paper in them and to which they were adding those big shiny red disc type “flowers”. They brought in a truck that had rolls of red carpet and I was wondering what on earth. Heard an American voice and we pondered it together and had a nice visit. Her husband travels on business to London, Paris and Italy. How awful is that?! Someone finally said it had something to do with Ferrari of all things, and sure enough, when I had walked on about another block, I came to a Piazza that had about 6 or 7 Ferraris parked, I guess waiting to be moved onto the red carpet. And, being a good mother I took a picture of one cause at least when he was younger, my son lusted after the truly legendary cars.

Getting ready...
I don't see it myself...

The Davanzati Museum is housed in the home built around the 1450's by the Davizzi family. It then passed to the Bartolini family in the 16th century, becoming the property of the Davanzati family in 1578 who owned it until the end of the 19th century. I'm not really sure why it's not called the Davizzi Museum, but...no matter. This museum had no brochures, no postcards, no nothing, and not only were you not supposed to take any pictures, there were security cameras everywhere to make sure you didn't. So I didn't and it's a shame because even though only the ground floor and the second floor are open for viewing, they're quite wonderful because, incredibly enough each room is frescoed floor to ceiling and wall to wall but not with the normal religious paintings or cherubs cavorting, or whatever. They're painted with what would pass today for beautiful, large patterned wallpaper today. There is a main room and a bedroom which are furnished with antiques dating to the period, and one other small room that just show-cased various small statuary, paintings and small furniture from that time period. There was a strongbox which was the size of a trunk and had two massive locks with keys that looked like old time skeleton keys except they were probably at least 5” long and I'd guess maybe 1/2” or so in diameter. And there was a little “water closet” tucked into a corner that was a one seater with a little lid that you removed when nature called. They must have been fairly dainty people – it wasn't a very large opening and was probably only 10” or so off the floor. There was another slightly bigger corner that had a big circular basin in it for bathing. The rim was quite low and there was a big spout on one side, so I think you were supposed to stand there and have a servant pour water over you. I wish I could show you more pictures. I did get smart enough to see if I could find any pictures on line and there were a few so I'll post them here. They're tiny, but you can see that the walls are really something. And those are original! Maybe it was the Davanzati's that had that work done and that's why they named the museum for them??

My shot of the exterior - excuse the sun glare
And the Davanzati's neighbors

Embroidered bed spread and see what I mean about the wallls?!

This is the first floor I don't think I mentioned

The main room...

I then moved on to the Piazza San Maggiore to visit the baptistery and Cathedral. There was a very long line for the cathedral so I gave up on that for now. There wasn't any line for the baptistery which was nice and, once inside, I got the audio thingie and then went and stood with my head back and my mouth open. The ceiling of the dome which is quite large, is entirely covered with mosaics. And a lot of it was very glittery gold. The audio explained that this is because those background areas were covered with real gold and then covered with tiny clear glass tiles. Amazing, and truly breathtaking. The altar area also had an arched ceiling which was beautiful too but I can't remember if it was mosaic or painted. And the audio also explained that the baptistery was, in fact, used for baptisms. In the age it was built, baptism was apparently seen as a death and rebirth and was such a momentous sacrament that it deserved it's own site. Bapisteries are often octagon-shaped, as this one is, and that's because each side represents the seven days of creation and then the day of rebirth. So now we know...sort of...

The Baptistery

Portion of mosaic dome ceiling

Altar and ceiling

Portion of Baptistery interior wall

I went back outside to look at the three sets of doors. The oldest set is by Pisano and was made (or started or finished) in 1330. I feel funny saying “was made in” because these things all took lengthy amounts of time. If I remember orrecctly, Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise doors took 24 years to finish. The Pisano doors are original – not replicas. The second set was made by Ghiberti before he started on the “famous” ones. I don't seem to have any information on them. The third set is Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise and they were given that name by Michaelangeo who also requested that he be buried facing them so that when he was raised from the dead, the Gates of Paradise would be right in front of him. They are beautiful but impossible to get a full picture of because of the crowds around them. But I did the best I could and got one that is pretty good, considering...

Half of the first set of Ghiberti doors - 1403-24

Portion of Pisano doors

And the Gates of Paradise

I found this on-line - it shows the detail pretty nicely.

I think that's about it, for sightseeing. Of course since I was there I took more pictures of the cathedral, dome, campanile, etc.,and I'll try not to post them all. Although after no pictures Wednesday, might as well have a bunch today!

For dinner I went to a place that I had noticed each time I crossed the river on what I consider “my” bridge. And, of all things, I ended up ordering a pizza. They had one that was only tomato sauce and basil. I ordered that and asked for Parmesan to sprinkle on it, and oh my...it was deliciouso! Exceptionally thin crust and baked in a wood-burning oven. (Just happened to take a picture of that...) It was a very busy restaurant, so it was fun to be in – noisy and happy.
  Smell the pizza?  The tomato sauce was the best I've had on a pizza.


Christopher said...

Mmm...I DO smell the pizza... after reading your rather full day, I think pizza would hit the spot. Those doors are just fantastic. Looking forward to observations on Greve!

Cookie Ziemba said...

Hi Mary Lynne,
Finally caught up on your blog and almost feel like I am there with you. Sounds wonderful and I hope your ankle improves quickly.
Cookie Ziemba

Kacki said...


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