Day 8 (Thu, May 10): Florence - Duomo and Santa Croce

We left at 9:00 and met Kirk Duclaux at 10:30 in front of the Florence Duomo (Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore). From these pictures you can see the layout: the San Giovanni Baptistry, the enormous Cathedral with Brunelleschi's famous dome (containing the Vasari and Zuccari frescoes of The Last Judgement), Giotto's impressive bell tower. At the time of its completition the Cathedral was the largest in Europe, still second only to St. Peter's in Rome.

We visited the Duomo Museum, just east of the Cathedral. It was wonderful, but as with everything else here, the internet and books are loaded with images, so here's just a sample, the charming choir of Luca della Robbia, along with the truly wrenching Donatello Maddalena (Mary Magdalen), of which Vasari wrote: "a finely executed and impressive work. She is portrayed as wasted away by her fastings and abstinence, and Donatello's expert knowledge of anatomy is demonstrated by the perfect accuracy of every part of the figure."

After reaching the saturation point ("arted out" as our guides say) we were hungry for a different kind of Italian art -- food and wine. We followed Sabrina's advice and found the tiny Trattoria Le Mossacce (via del Proconsolo 55r). I didn't take any pictures of the outside (must've been hungry), but found one on the 'net. You walk through a very narrow hall into a very tiny dining room. Nearly everyone inside was Italian, with the exception of a group which followed us in. They were German but could as well have been Americans. The idiots wanted to push two tables together so the eight of them could sit together. It would have been impossible. The waiter told them to go to hell, so they settled for a men's table and a women's table (the women, who sat near us, seemed relieved). I had spaghetti, and Karen had tagliatelli; the wine was chianti.

Bargello Museum

We next dropped into the Bargello, aka Bargello Palace or Palazzo del Popolo (Palace of the People), which is a former barracks and prison, the principal place of execution, one of the oldest buildings in Florence, begun in 1255. Initially the headquarters of the Capitano del Popolo and later of the Podestà, in the sixteenth century it became the residence of the Bargello or head of police spies from which it took its name. Saw a lot of Cellini, Michelangelo, Donatello - in particular, Donatello's David. Also got a chuckle out of Michelangelo's Bacchus






Santa Croce - Gothic Franciscan church

Santa Croce


main altar




At 2:45 we rejoined the group and Kirk Duclaux at Enrico Pazzi's (1865) statue of Dante in Piazza Santa Croce (floor plan). We saw the tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo and Machiaveli. Visited the cloister and the badly damaged Cimabue crucifix. In the Pazzi Chapel, he discussed Brunelleschi's architecture (one wall is shown below, along with an overhead shot of the floor) and mystery of the name -- the Pazzis were out of power by the time this was built. Missed the Bardi Chapel which I would really love to have seen, but time just ran out.

When we got back to our hotel Karen immediately set off to the main train station (about a 10-minute walk) to buy our tickets for tomorrow's trip to Siena, clutching a note which requested "due biglietti per Firenze, andata e ritorno". The ticket seller smiled at her "Italian" but she did get the tickets. After another very good dinner, we were both in bed before ten.