Travel: Italy (Day Five)

Today began early with a cup of coffee on the roof and then a cab ride to the Piazza Santa Maria Novella. The church opened 30 minutes later than we thought, so we opted for a cappuccino and croissant at La Bottega where I suddenly began channeling St. Francis of Assisi.

We then made our way into the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella and museum. Here we saw some beautiful pieces of art including a “crossover” piece from the middle-ages to the Renaissance, which began to bring depth to the images. The one below of the Holy Trinity is the best example and the most studied.

After seeing so much, I took the time to pray the Rosary in a chapel that is not intended for tourist but for praying: the Capella della Pura (Chapel of the Pure). I don’t know how pure I am but I did feel peace. I was the only one there. Imagine having this place to yourself!

We then made our way to the Duomo museum. This is the stage where I am beginning to be overwhelmed by all that I am seeing. I walk up to one piece that is so remarkable that it has no effect on me and then see another and am on the verge of tears. The one thing that floored me had to be pointed out by Scott. It is the beheading of John the Baptist. It really took my breath away and I don’t know why. It was just so…

Here was also an unfinished Pieta by Michelangelo. You can see the rough bits along with those that are more polished. It is Nicodemus who is standing behind Mary and his face is a self portrait of Michelangelo. How wonderful to have it as is but how amazing to have had him finish! Man proposes and God disposes.

And then I discovered the room of relics (there were many more than what are shown below). I’ll let you decide the authenticity of these, but… yeah… I believe. Perhaps they are not but the prayers that have been gathered around these over the centuries are very authentic. You can feel them and enter into them.

After fighting some crowds and trying to return something from shopping the day before, we decided that it was more than time for a break, so we headed up to the roof of a shop (5th floor) and ordered a tasty beverage. Yes! America needs this. A bar in the shopping centers. Scott took this photo while I was apparently deep in thought and contemplating the reliquary of my own finger bone (I’m guessing it will be in a hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar known only by Carnac the Magnificent and kept on the porch of Funk and Wagnall’s until someone pitches it in the burn barrel.)

The remainder of the day was spent in fulfilling Heidi’s ultimate game plan: shopping. And it was great fun. I haven’t found anything that I absolutely must have, but am truly waiting for Roma to make whatever purchase that might be. I may then need my own cargo plane in order to get it all home.

My dogs were barking something fierce by then so I let Heidi and Scott continue to wander along while I stopped at Le volpi e l’uva for a glass of Chianti. I sat at the back and glared at everyone coming in so that they thought better of sitting next to me. It worked for about five minutes (note to self: work on Italian glare).

At the end of the shopping extravaganza, we stopped at to Toscanella Osteria for dinner where I had “The Duck” and the dang duck was delicious. We were fat and happy enough at this point and a mile from home, so we ended the day the way we began, “Taxi!”

Dormi bene. Sognare bei sogni.

Travel: Italy (Day Three)

After a quick breakfast in we headed out for the Basilica di San Marco. The original Benedictine monastery was established in the 13th century and was later occupied by the Dominicans who then refurbished and expanded the facility with the support of the Medici family. The architecture is phenomenal but the reason you are there is for the frescoes that grace the walls, which were painted by the great Dominican artist, Fra Angelico. Every monk’s cell has a scene from the life of Christ along with many of the walls along the hallways and cloister.

There are also works by several of the other brothers and this one of the Lord’s Supper caught my eye in particular but it wasn’t Jesus I saw first…

A few more from other artist.

I ended my time in this most holy place by praying the Rosary before this crucifix. It was a peaceful spot.

After a quick lunch (some tasty pasta) we worked our way through the crowds to the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore (aka: Duomo).

I’m still not entirely sure how it happened but will standing gawking (I apparently was silently screaming, “Gullible Tourist!) I managed to get swindled out of $25 Euros. I’ll try not be so nice in the future.

The interior of both the baptistery and the main church are quite austere when compared to some of the others we’ve seen, but as I said yesterday, “Look up.”

Below the Duomo is a church dating back to time between the 1st and 4th centuries. Only fragments remain but it provides a glimpse of our very distant past.

We made out way back to the VRBO by mid-afternoon. The heat today was wearing on us all, which allowed us time to rest and freshen up before heading out to dinner where we enjoyed some of the best Florence has to offer and what they are famous for: red meat/steak. You tell them what you want, but you do not tell them how to prepare it (rare/medium/etc). You order and they deliver. Trust me: they are the experts and you will not be disappointed.

And then we ate…

There was salad and bread and roasted potatoes and Florentine steak and Prosecco and Chianti Classico and caffe corretto (Sambuca was the correction to the coffee) and limon cello and Amaro and tiramisu and Tarte Della Nona with pine nuts and Strawberry Pavlova.

Nighty night!

%d bloggers like this: