On Saturday I had the pleasure of spending the day in the “Birthplace of the Renaissance.” I felt that my blog has been a little light on travel photos lately, so I figured I’d share some recent ones with you. Enjoy!
What comes to mind when you see this emblem?
Probably France, right? Or for us Canucks, we think of Québec. But right now I’m nowhere near Québec, and I’m still pretty far from France, so what’s with the the Fleur-de-lis floating around?
The Fleur-de-lis has been used as an emblem by many cities and families since, like, the Middle Ages. Firenze, or Florence for you anglophones and francophones, also adopted the pretty little flower emblem. Some say that Florence adopted it because the city was first founded in a flower-filled valley, or maybe simply because one of Italy’s favourite rivals, France, was using it too.
So what else comes to mind when you think of Florence? Probably this guy, right?
Good old Michelangelo Buonarroti really outdid himself with this one – the David.
David, with his perfectly-sculpted physique is the representation of the ideal man in Michelangelo’s time. Finished in 1504, the statue of David originally stood in Piazza della Signoria in Florence. Now the Galleria dell’Accademia (one of the most famous museums in Italy) is where the original David stands, towering over the floods of admiring tourists, aspiring artists, and lovers of the Renaissance who come to visit.
This picture was taken by yours truly on Saturday, outside of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio where a replica of Michelangelo’s work still draws lots of attention.
The first time I went to see David, 8 years ago, they had set up a computer system in the Accademia that let you zoom in for a closer look at Michelangelo’s mastery. It was while I zoomed in on David that I realized that Michelangelo must have been a bit of a softie at heart. Because although he gave his manly statue perfectly sculpted muscles, wonderfully proportionate limbs, and a full head of slightly tousled hair, Michelangelo gave his David heart-shaped pupils through which to survey the world. The thought just makes me smile.
But let’s forget about flowers and statues. Another symbol of Florence is undoubtedly the Ponte Vecchio, or the Old Bridge. Sounds more noble and important in Italian, doesn’t it?
This bridge, one of many crossing the Arno river in Florence is special for a couple of reasons. Reason #1: It is lined with shops that sell exclusively gold and jewelry. Reason #2: Along the tops of the shops runs the Vasari Corridor, a secret passageway dating back to the 16th century that joins the Palazzo Vecchio with Palazzo Pitti and lined with priceless works of art. Although the jewelry is expensive and the bridge is often very crowded, it’s certainly worth a stroll.
Let’s not forget the city’s impressive Duomo, (cathedral) which my dear friend Amanda and I visited this weekend. The massive structure was started in the 13th century but not finished until the 15th, and obviously not by the same people. We opted for the grand tour (go big or go home, I always say) so we climbed the 400-someodd steps to the top of the cupola, the Duomo’s dome. Yes, we griped and grumbled and some of us (me) suffered a bit from a phobia of heights, but in the end it was very worth it. Not only did we burn off in advance the delicious treats we’d consume later that day, we also got to see some breathtaking views of the city, as well as the amazing frescos that adorn the inside of the Dome.
Like I said, in the end it was worth all those stairs.