Thursday, March 31, 2011

10 Pictures of Florence

We were lucky enough to be back in Florence for a day and a night recently (a rare night away from the dogs—thanks to Doris our German neighbor, house caretaker, and dog-sitter), and though I’ve blogged up about our love for Florence a few times already, with pics and such, I wanted to do another post, since this time we stopped at a few different spots. In the interest of any readers sanity, I’ll try to keep my typing to a minimum and let the pictures do most of the talking (especially since there are ten pics). We first checked into our hotel (more on this later), and then instantly walked across the Ponte Vecchio (we were staying Oltrarno style), past the Uffizi, through the Piazza della Signoria, and down the way a bit to a side turn to stop for a sandwich at the renowned I Due Fratellini. A true hole in the wall, I Due Fratellini has been around since 1875, with brothers making sandwiches and pouring wine out of a tiny space. You actually just eat standing next to it, resting your wine glass between sips on shelves to the side of the take out window. In this pic, you can see our two glasses to the right (and see the line that’s almost always in place at the window). Mine is the one almost emptied of its Lambrusco:
We both went for the #23, which is a slightly crisp on the outside, soft on the inside roll topped with cheese, arugula, olive oil, and a hint of truffles and pepper:
After finishing out street side wine and sandwiches (and wondering why, why can’t Seattle have a place like this? Besides the whole “drinking wine in the street” issue) we walked past the Duomo and around back to visit the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (which I’d never been too). At around the 15th century, this building in the back of the Duomo started to be where the maintenance decisions about the Duomo were made, and for almost as long it’s also held this museum, where many (if not all) of the original art from the Duomo and the Baptistery have been keep. This means it’s packed with artistic hits, including Michealangelo’s famous Pieta, and a host of sculpture by Pisano, Cambio, and Donatello, all of which was in the Duomo (or on the walls outside) at one time. I tend to be a Donatello sculpture guy, loving his facial expression such as this:
The dell’Opera also has painting from the Duomo, the original doors to heaven from the Baptistry, loads of relics, and lots of architectural drawing and models from the Duomo’s restoration and façade creation. However, my other favorite room was full of bas-reliefs, showing a variety of humans in honor of the arts, work, and other scenes, including this jolly vintner who seems to have enjoyed the fruits of his labors quite a bit:
From the dell’Opera del Duomo, we wandered over to Santa Croce, which we hadn’t yet seen on any trips to Florence since moving over for our-pretirement. Which is a shame, because of the three bigger Florence churches (the Duomo, Santa Croce, and Santa Maria Novella—with no disrespect to the many other Florence churches large and small), Santa Croce is in some ways my favorite. The Duomo is more massively mind-blowing, and Santa Maria Novella is better for buying drugs (no, no, it’s lovely, but being so close to the train station is the sketchiest) , but Santa Croce has a more approachable feel, as well as more work inside still in place (and Brunelleschi’s Renaissance-perfect Capella dei Pazzi). The piazza around it is large and open, perfect for festivals, and the church itself looks amazing on a sunny day:
Inside, you can see pictures of the massive flood of 1966, with water up to the church’s middle (you can also still see how high it got on the buildings outside the church), but the picture that made me catch my breath was the “after” photo, with the debris in place around the statue of Dante (which has now been moved to the side):
Inside the church there is a host of famous frescos (by Giotto, among others), tombstones (many worn by years of visitors) covering the floors, and a number of more famous monuments are along the walls, and it's where Machiavelli, Galileo, and others (not Dante, however, though he does have a monument there—he’s in Ravenna of course) and buried, most notably Michelangelo:
After wandering through and around Santa Croce, we headed back to the hotel, stopping for a Negroni along the way. We splurged a bit on our hotel, and stayed at my favorite hotel (in the world? Perhaps), the Lungarno on Borgo san Iacopo. It sits right on the Arno, so has fantastic views (as well as a fantastic staff, fantastic bathrooms, and fantastic little slippers) of Santa Trinita one way:
and Ponte Vecchio the other:
We reveled in our sunny Florence afternoon for a while, then had visitors: our pals Angela and Bobby, who are living in Florence currently (sadly, for Italy, moving back to the states next week). We had a drink on the balcony, looking at the Palazzo Vecchio’s tower as the sun went down:
then went to dinner (at QuattroLeoni, which I’ll describe in detail tomorrow), and had a couple drinks, a few while wearing blinking bunny ears:
A perfect end to another perfect day in Florence.


  1. Ahhh, love the 2 brothers sandwich shop--I ate there a number of times last year--nothing wrong with a little rocket & truffles! I'm so jealous of your Florence stay, thanks for the great pics!

  2. I love that sandwich shop also, but mostly I loved your visit to the Museo and Santa Croce which were two of my Florence favorites. Did you see the Donatello sculpture of Mary Magdalene? And did you know that the Deposition Pieta there was done when Michaelangelo was eighty! One of my most inspiring pieces of art ever. And I took a photo of that same flood photo you took at Santa Croce. Amazing. And the way the townspeople all came together to repair all that damage. Did you visit the reparation area where they showed how they restore the damaged paintings? I could go on and on, but will stop here. Thanks for this blog that refreshed my Florence memory and made me long to return.

  3. santa croce, whatever. that sandwich however, HOLY SHIT! my fave. I kid, I kid. santa croce is my favorite of all the piazzas in florence. jj had about 6 lardo sandwiches from there last time we were in florence.

  4. Lora, you reminded me of the sandwich shop in an earlier post I have to say, so thanks times ten cause I was so glad we got to stop there.

    And Andrea, if I knew how much you liked it, I would have had two of those sandwiches, one for you and one for me. Cause they are tasty.

    And Mom, I did see that Donatello, which I loved. It was hard to decide which to post a pic of (and the Pieta, too). Amazing stuff all around.