Saturday, January 10, 2009

Florence Day 2 (3 Jan 09): Blogging is Tiring

Blogging a trip is a nod to the inevitable onslaught of forgetfulness - it would be nice to remember, when I'm old and grey, what we did in Italy when we were young(ish).

So, onwards with the reporting.

L and I visited the Church of Santa Croce, very near our hotel, first thing in the morning before the crowds arrived:
I wrote earlier about using E.M. Forster's "A Room With A View" as a guide to Florence. An important part of the book is set in the Church of Santa Croce, where Lucy Honeychurch is in pursuit of Giotto's frescoes. True enough, more than a hundred years after the book was written, and about 800 years after the frescoes were first painted, Giotto's frescoes are still riveting. Here is a picture of part of the transept with the St. Francis cycle:

The church is quite beautiful, but a large part of the spectacle is the fact that many of the great men from Florence are buried here. This will be rather macabre, but here are the fantastic graves of Galileo, Michaelangelo and Dante:

After about two hours roaming around the cavernous Santa Croce (including a short pit stop at a leather school inside where L bought a leather pouch), L and I headed towards nearby Trattoria Baldovina for lunch. We had mixed crostini, pizza napoli, and pasta Genovese (perhaps the best pesto I have ever had):

After that gigantic meal, L and I decided to go on a walking tour of Florence, using a free downloaded podcast by Rick Steves (highly recommended!). We saw a lot of interesting sights, but because it was freezing and I couldn't bear to take my hand out of my glove to take a picture, I can only post one measly picture of the Church of Santa Maria Del Fiore and its famous Duomo:

Another highlight of the walk was the Orsanmichele, which was once a Church and at the same time, a granary. Sorry, no pictures were allowed to be taken inside, but it was definitely unique.

L and I went glove shopping after the walking tour - we went to Madova, a wholesale supplier to major brands. Both L and I got leather gloves (mine was lined with lambswool while L's was lined with cashmere), which should be good for the even colder winter days and nights ahead back in the Netherlands.

Dinner was at a lovely restaurant called La Spada, where we had among other wondrous things, an immaculately grilled Bistecca Fiorentina:

Looks like a lot, but this was all that was left after half an hour:

Best Steak Ever. Really.

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