We spent two days in Florence. We decided to not rush all over trying to cram everything in. Better to see a few things well than a lot of things in a blur. On our first day we gaped at the stunning magnificence of the duomo, but didn’t go inside, went to the Uffizi Gallery, where I melted in front of the Botticellis, walked across the Arno on the Ponte Vecchio, still lined with jewellery shops, and climbed to Piazzale Michaelangelo on a hill above Florence for some wonderful views of the city.
On the way to the Uffizi we met this fellow – who would move for a fee.
And then this one.
And from inside the Uffizi, through double paned windows I took this picture of the Arno River.
Ponte Vecchio – the buildings that are attached to both sides of the bridge house jewellery shops. It was a complete zoo on the bridge, so crowded you could hardly move.
Florence from the Piazzale Michaelangelo
On our second day in Florence we climbed the campanile, all four hundred and fourteen steps, for some even better views of the city.
On the way up the campanile
And views from the top
We went to the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo, housing some of the works of art from the duomo. In here I really got to slow down and take it all in. I sat and stared at this piece for at least 10 minutes, not wanting to move. It’s not even real, but a life size photograph of some mosaic work that was from (or maybe even still exists in) the duomo. There was a marble statue above it that I hardly noticed.
Completely tickled by this piece
and loved these. I’m not even remotely religious, I just love 13th and 14th Century art, and in those days, as far as I know, religious art was the only art that existed. All artists were men and all were part of the church. I love the form, the design, the colours, the sheer elegance of it.
And then we went to the Baptistry! Absolutely breathtaking. The Baptistry itself is a large round, mainly marble-clad, mainly unremarkable building in front of the duomo. But the ceiling! I was completely awestruck. I couldn’t just look at it with my head craned back so I lay down on the floor. It was busy in there of course, so I tried to find a spot where people wouldn’t walk on me. Yikes! I’d have liked to have been able to lie down smack in the middle, but it might have been a bit dangerous, so I found a quiet spot off to the edge and lay there staring in awe.
Ruth left us after Florence to return to the Netherlands. We took some time to catch our breath, going nowhere for three days except into town to get groceries and for walks around the farm area where we were staying. We’d been out and about seeing and doing so much it was nice to just be at home for a bit.
Our final foray out into Tuscany was a day trip driving through Chianti country. We stopped often along the way to enjoy the beautiful scenery and to take photos, and visited the towns of Castellina and Greve.
On the wall of a house in Castellina.
Piazza del Mercato in Greve
In Castellina we also went to see the Etruscan ruins. We hadn’t initially thought to stop there, but were really glad we did. It was fascinating, and a bit spooky. Unlike the grand duomos there aren’t crowds of people wanting to look inside underground Etruscan stone houses. We were there alone. It was really dark inside some of them and we used our camera flashes to try to see in a bit before we went inside. There were four separate excavations into Etruscan dwellings in the hillside and we went into all of them. They are probably about 2000 years old. Just the thought that people lived there in those stone houses so long ago was intriguing and kind of eerie. I imagine it was cold and uncomfortable. And dark.
It’s actually been two weeks since we left Tuscany, so we’ve been on the road now for six weeks. Fairly frequently the thought arises – this is it, this is our life now. It’s not the same as it would be if we were on holiday and in a week or so it will end and we’d go home. We have to make home wherever we are. There are many adjustments, both internal and external. With food for instance we have to find ways to eat what is “normal” for us, because it’s fine to not worry about diet for a few weeks vacation, but when it’s longer term it’s important to pay attention to what and how much we’re eating to make sure we stay healthy. We often buy food to bring back to eat in the hotel room because we simply don’t want to eat out every night. Our hotel room becomes home in every way we can make it.
Right now we’re taking a day off from sight seeing. I’m sitting on the bed writing this. I have earplugs in, because right now Don is sitting in a chair with his feet up, watching a Formula 1 race on TV. It’s a truly wonderful thing that we get on so well, and communicate so well, so we can make the adjustments that are needed so both of us can have what we want while living together in one small room. Right now what he wants is to watch F1 on TV so I wear earplugs. In Venice I wanted to watch figure skating on TV, late at night. Luckily we had a headphone extension that I could plug into the TV so as to not keep him awake all night. And so it goes. We learn how to be at home wherever we are, we learn how to travel as we go. It’s a big change, but so far we’re both loving it.
Next post: Venice! It is every bit as magical and enchanting and extraordinary and breathtaking as you could possibly imagine!
All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.