After a long but interesting bus ride from Slovenia, we arrived in Florence, Italy and met Giancarlo Giancarlo (his real name, I’m not making this up) at our apartment. After dealing with the formalities and using all seven of my Italian words, we began the process of settling in.
We like the apartment, and it works just fine, however, that isn’t to say that it is ideal. It is well equipped and things work well, but some of the equipment is a bit dated. It’s a cross between Giancarlo’s early life castoffs and his mother’s hand-me-downs and bric-a-brac. We have lots of doilies, the TV is similar to the one I took to college in 1975, and the stereo has a dual cassette player. When was the last time you saw a cassette tape? But, both the TV and radio broadcast in Italian, so it doesn’t really matter anyway.
We also like the apartment because it has a pleasant view and is in the Oltrarno area, a neighborhood of Florentines, and not tourists. For us, a big part of the traveling experience is seeing what day-to-day life is like for the locals, and you can’t do this in a hotel in the middle of the tourist area. And this intercultural experience is a two-way street. Terri and I were trying to translate a sign at the grocery store to determine if the €6.00/KG was for the lettuce or tomatoes, and this little old lady nearby was looking at us like the martians had invaded the ‘hood.
As for the tourist side of Florence, we love it. We were here years ago and wanted to return and take a bit more time to immerse ourselves in the Renaissance art and architecture that dominates the town. Most historians will agree that the Renaissance took root in Florence and spread throughout Europe, and the beautiful buildings, churches, sculptures, and paintings that are here bear this out.
Michelangelo’s David, one of the most famous sculptures in the world, is in Florence as well as so many other important works it’s hard to imagine. This is a reproduction of David. (Photographing the original is not allowed – he’s modest I guess.)
This bronze sculpture is Cellini’s Perseus holding the head of Medusa.
Finally, the incredibly ornate Duomo. All this art may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re a fan of 15th & 16th Century Renaissance, there is no where on earth like Florence.