First Day in Firenze

Not long after arriving, with a just a few hours of sleep, and still operating on Los Angeles time, we took the train from our Villa to Florence for our first ‘City Walk’…

Thirty minutes down the Apennines from Mugello by rail, we arrive in the Arno river valley and begin walking through the glorious ancient city. Views of the astonishing cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore (the ‘Duomo’), the Piazza Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio, the Arno River and the 12th century Ponte Vecchio ‘Old Bridge’, Santa Croce church with the tombs of Galileo, Marconi, Rossini, Machiavelli, and Michelangelo—that was just the first part of our day. We also visited Brunneleschi’s Pazzi Chapel, said to be the most acoustically perfect  masonry room in the world, and sang the doxology, drawing a curious crowd as usual. Then we spent time relaxing and meditating in the cloister of Santa Croce, followed by a hearty lunch at an amazing artisanal street-sandwich shop where the sandwich makers, when they found out we were from Los Angeles, began serenading us with ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’—significantly out of tune but laden with Tuscan bravado. Next we crossed the river to Oltrarno and visited the Brancacci Chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine the ‘Sistine Chapel of Florence’, where Masaccio essentially demonstrated spatially accurate fresco painting for the very first time in the 1400s. A magnificent dinner at Gustavino, a classic Tuscan Osteria—pastas, Florentine steaks, wild boar sauces, grilled vegetables—followed by gelato at Venchi’s on Calzauoli street. A great first day in Italy for our precious fifteen!

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