Daily Archives: May 19, 2010

Trip to Italy – Day #12 – Florence Day #4

Our final day in Florence started out cool and crisp before a drizzle interrupted, but did not stop, our few remaining explorations.

After a breakfast of cappuccino, croissants, and fruit, we were off the explore, starting with the Duomo Museum. Many of the statues and artifacts of the cathedral, have been replaced with replicas, while the originals have been restored and placed in this amazing museum that we quite enjoyed.

One of our favorite exhibits was a choir balcony designed and sculpted by the then little-known young sculptor, Luca della Robbia. It was commissioned after almost 150 years of construction on the building.

The choir box he designed was a balcony for singers next to the organ in the cathedral. The original panels of the box are at eye level and are the artist’s interpretation of Psalm 150, which says:

  1. Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
  2. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
  3. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
  4. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
  5. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
  6. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2      Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
3      Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
4      Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
5      Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
6      Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

His reliefs turned out to be the MTV equivalent of the early 1400’s.

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Barb liked the panel that demonstrated the verse, “Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.” It’s the upper one of the two below …

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However, if you notice, in the upper left of the panel, there’s a little boy who thinks the sound is a bit too loud …

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Perhaps the most famous piece in this museum is a sculpture Michelangelo was working on for his own tomb – a pieta. Unfortunately, he had not finished it when he died. Many believe the large man holding Jesus, Nicodemus, was a self-portrait by the master.

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On the way to our next stop, the Academy, we passed this street. We think it is likely a sign for Saint Elisabeth Street, but we like to think it means ‘Sarah Elisabeth,’ in honor of our second granddaughter.

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Of course, The Academy is world famous for one statute, and one alone … and even from a distance he’s pretty impressive … all seventeen feet of himself …

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Crowds gathered around in admiration. Many just sat and looked, and looked, and looked. As high as our expectations were, they were exceeded.

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Even with the most close up views, the work is still remarkable.

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After The Academy, we lunched at a trattoria filled with locals. The house Chianti perfectly matched the two pasta dishes we enjoyed along with fresh bread and olive oil. We enjoyed a visit with a local businessman who was a Mets fan.

The afternoon was whiled away visiting the Santa Maria Novalle Church (near the main train station), and walking the crooked streets in town, all overseen by the massive dome of the Duomo.

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Of course, we needed one last visit to the Duomo, Baptistery, and Campanile …

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… before heading to the hotel for a late afternoon nap.

After that, we took a long evening stroll and ended up at the Ponte Vecchio and stopped at the Rick Steves’ recommended Golden View Open Bar. This restaurant is located on the south shore of the Arno River with a magnificent view of the bridge.

And, the Lord was pleased to have a riverside, bridge-view table open for us. Usually, we were told, these tables are held months in advance by reservation. But, not for us …

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We were blessed, not only with the view, but with a wonderful two and a half hour romantic dinner … starting with bruschetta, followed by a heavenly Prosciutto de Parma accompanied by an amazing aged Parmesan cheese. My oh my.

I had first read about Prosciutto de Parma and Parmesan cheese in John Grissom’s fun book, Playing for Pizza. His main character commented, after enjoying it the first time, that it was the best thing he had ever eaten (or something like that). To which I say, “Amen.”

A local red wine was joined by fresh spaghetti followed by a veal scaloppine with porcini mushrooms as the sunset and the flood lights lit up the ancient Ponte Vecchio.

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The magic only continued with a three chocolate dessert course – a dark chocolate pudding, a decadent dark chocolate mousse, and the piece-de-resistance, a hot chocolate centered, hard chocolate covered molten chocolate dessert over a wonderful cream.

After sealing our love and life-long commitment to each other on the top of the bridge, we walked home and passed two carvings on walls that summed up our stay here. The first …

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… was a Fleurs de Lys, the symbol of the City of Florence, a city we have admired and enjoyed in the past, and learned to love even more deeply the last few days.

The second caused us to pause a few moments in contemplation and thanksgiving …

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When we saw it, Barb quoted John 1:29, saying the words of John the Baptist when he saw Jesus coming to be baptized, “Behold the Lamb of God , which taketh away the sin of the world.”

And, I immediately thought of Jesus’ words in John 10:10, when he said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Out time together and our time in Florence has been full, abundant, and meaningful indeed.

So, off to Rome tomorrow. Hope you can keep up with us!

Here’s the entire series:

Dr. Walt and Barb’s Italian Adventure — May 8-25, 2010

If you’ve ever wanted to go to Italy (or even if you have in the past), you’ll want to come along with us and enjoy the sites, sounds, food, and art.

Hopefully, this blog will stimulate you to put visiting these amazing cities on your to-do list. Just click on any of the days or cities you want to visit with us.

  • Days #1 and 2 – Flight Nightmares
    • Okay, so you think you don’t know anyone whose plane to Europe was canceled due to the volcanic ash … or who were on another plane that blew two tires on take off and had to make an emergency landing … well now you do!
  • Day #3 – Rome
    • Rome and the Vatican Museum. Come visit the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Michelangelo’s Pieta.
  • Day #4 – Venice
    • The tourists call it ‘Venice,’ the Italians call it ‘Venezia,’ while the Venetians call it ‘Venexia.’ Barb and I call it romantic and captivating. Come on an afternoon and evening stroll and be quickly drawn into her whimsical wonderment … right to the Rialto Bridge.
  • Day #5 – Venice
    • We were awakened by the sound of an accordion and an operatic voice, singing to a couple taking a romantic ride in a gondola in the canal just outside our hotel window. Then off to Piazza San Marco, St. Mark’s Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs, and an amazing discovery.
  • Day #6 – Venice to Cinque Terre
    • We spent the day traveling to the Cinque Terre. If you’ve never heard of it, you’ll want to visit the next two days with us.
  • Day #7 – Cinque Terre Day #1
    • We awoke this morning to throw open our shutters and let in the fresh sea air and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. The music of small children laughing in the square, and the smell of fresh-baked bread from the bar below us wafted up and in our window. Today we explored Riomaggiore, the ‘Via dell’Amore,’ Manarola, and Corniglia. Come along with us.
  • Day #8 – Cinque Terre Day #2
    • Cinque Terre is a remote mountainous chunk of the Italian riveria that is called “the traffic-free, lowbrow, underappreciated alternative to the French Riveria … just sun, sea, sand (pebbles), wine, and pure, unadulterated Italy … exploring, hiking, shopping, and evening romance in one of God’s great gifts to tourism.” Join us as we visit Monterossa.
  • Day #9 – Florence Day #1
    • A trip by Carrara (home of the world famous marble), Pisa (home of the world famous tower), and then to Florence for quick visits to the Duomo and the Baptistery to see Ghiberti’s bronze doors. And, it was a hot night in Florence.
  • Day #10 – Florence Day #2
    • Come visit the Oltrarno area, to the south of the Arno River, to get a sense of rustic, old Florence. Then, off to the Santa Croce Basilica and the amazing tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, Dante, and Machiavelli.
  • Day #11 – Florence Day #3
    • The Uffizi Museum, the greatest collection of Italian art anywhere, was our morning adventure. Then join us at Piazzale Michelangelo, where we saw a second copy of Michelangelo’s David, and relived our memories of romance 30 years ago … followed by an evening at the Palazzo Vecchio and a wonderful meal at the Fescobaldi Wine Bar.
  • Day #12 – Florence Day #4
    • Join us at the underappreciated Duomo Museum and then the Academy, to meet the real David. Our afternoon was Fra Angelica and the Santa Maria Novalle Church. For our Florentine finale, the Lord was pleased to provide us a riverside, bridge-view table near the Ponte Vecchio for sunset.
  • Days #13-14 – Rome Days #1-2 – The Wedding
    • We’ve been to a lot of weddings in our lives, but a wedding at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican comes right at the top. We had a magnificent time with dear friends, accompanied by fantastic fellowship and food.
  • Day #15 – Rome Day #3
    • Join us for a journey through the Trastevere area of Rome, and then to devotions at the Church of St. Cecilia, followed by our amazing trip to the Villa Borghese Gallery. Our evening was capped off at  the magnificent Trevi Fountain and the the world-famous Spanish Steps.
  • Day #16 – Our Last Day – Rome Day #4
    • We’ll start at the Roman coliseum, an tour by the Arch  of Constantine,  the ostentatious Victor Emmanuel Monument, and Bernini’s Four Rivers fountain in the Piazza Novona. As well as a visit with an amazing young man.

We’ve hoped you’ve had fun accompanying us on this trip to Italy, and that one day you’ll be blessed to experience and enjoy her yourself.