Hello friends, for this Throwback Thursday post, I thought I’d share a few photos from our last trip to Italy. As a vacation destination, its hard to beat Italy. There is so much culture and history for culture buffs, gorgeous views, be it of the city or the countryside, delicious food and wine and of course, who can resist gelatos? It truly is one of my favorite places to visit.
This time around we thought we’d visit Florence. This city which is synonymous with Medici dominance has a lot going for it. It is a fairly compact city with most major historic sites within walking distance. To fully appreciate its charms, one must come many times, the better to take in all it has to offer.
There is of course no shortage of churches to visit, most notably the Duomo of Florence with its gorgeous facade made entirely of marble. The view from its rooftop is impressive which is somewhat a consolation because its’ interior is (funnily enough) not as impressive as its exterior.
For beautiful frescoes and art, it is the Church of Santa Croce that you must see. One can easily spend hours in this church, marveling at everything. There are as well a number of prominent people buried in this church, notably Michaelangelo.
For much of Florentine history, the Piazza de Signoria has been the gathering place of its people. Fra Savonarola gave his incendiary speeches here and it is likewise here that he met his fiery end. Nowadays, it is crowded with camera toting tourists and the cafes that throng the Piazza are full. While we were there, it was the site of a vintage car exhibit which drew as many people as the Uffizi galleries, not far from the Piazza.
A visit to Florence wouldn’t be complete without strolling through the Ponte Vecchio. At least to try to stroll as much as you can given the huge crowd that always seems to be on the bridge! Crowd or not, the view of the Arno river from the bridge is beautiful. To capture this view of the Ponte Vecchio, cross over to one of the other bridges.
The Ponte Vecchio is lined from one end to another with jewelry shops, all proudly carrying on the Florentine tradition of goldsmithing and jewelry making. The bridge however wasn’t always the site of such pretty objects. In its earlier history, the Ponte Vecchio was the home of numerous Florentine butcher shops. In 1593, Duke Ferdinando I of the Medicis moved the goldsmiths here in an effort to boost the city’s beauty and in order to attract higher end customers. Now, its impossible to imagine the bridge without all the jewelry shops, so entrenched are they here.
This is but one shop among the many that crowd the bridge…
It wasn’t on Ponte Vecchio however that I found my own personal souvenir to take back with me. On one of the tiny side streets that radiate out of the Duomo, I found a tiny jewelry workshop. Consigli di Anna had a beautiful display of jewelry which of course, I could not resist. It turns out that the owner Anna has been making jewelry for 25 years in this tiny shop. Her work mostly uses natural stones and gems and she still makes every piece herself. Her shop is a virtual cavern of treasures and I found myself looking at every single item.
I was heartened to see her work desk with its jumble of stones and tools of the trade. Seems I’m not the only one who works in, how shall I say it–glorious disarray.
After what seemed like hours of looking and trying on every thing in the store, I settled for this pair of delicate pearls and Mediterranean coral. Isn’t it gorgeous?
Of course all that walking around is enough to work up quite an appetite, and this being Italy, there is no shortage of restaurants and gelaterias, some of which are more of a tourist trap than authentic Italian fare. However, we lucked out and found La Mescita, tiny place frequented by locals since 1927. While they serve only limited number of pasta dishes and a dish of the day, it was perfectly delicious and while partaking this meal, we had the impression of truly living la dolce vita.