About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Renaissance Florence - The Medici Quarter

My title today is brought to you by Brandon. He was our tour guide yesterday.

We slept in once again. We started out the day by eating breakfast at the corner bar just down the street.

After breakfast we headed toward the Duomo. We stopped to take pictures of the famous gold doors of the Baptistry. The doors were designed by Lorenzo Ghiberti.

The doors of the Baptistry. These are replicas. The original panels are now in the Museo Duomo.

Brandon took us to Palazzo Medici Riccardi. This was where the Medici family lived during the 14th century. The Medici sold the palace in 1659. Today, it is the seat of the Prefecture.

There are quite a few of these little cars in Florence...

...and this is why they are so great!

Some of the police officers wear these interesting uniforms and helmets.

Our next stop was the Basilica of San Lorenzo, the 'family church' of the Medici, which you can see below is unfinished. According to tradition, it was built in the IV century AD. In the beginning of the 15th century, the wealthiest businessmen of the area, led by the Medici, decided to pay for reconstruction of the church. Work moved ahead slowly and the facade was never finished.

Basilica of San Lorenzo.

On the other end of the church is the 'new sacristy' - Medici Chapels. In 1519 Michelangelo was commissioned to design a funeral chapel for the tombs of the Medici parents and their two heirs. Michelangelo designed a room where architecture and sculpture fused harmoniously.

Our next destination was Piazza San Marco. In the 13th century a small oratory was built here, dedicated to St. Mark, which in the next century, was turned into a large complex of buildings with a church and a monastery, looked over by the Silverstein Monks.

We spotted a Leonardo da Vinci Museo during our walking. After checking it out and looking it up in the Rick Steve's book, we realized that another Leonardo museo would be a little more interesting. At this point tour guide Brandon decided that our Medici tour was over and we should head to the Leonardo Museo.

We found the street but had troubles finding the address. We did find this piazza along the way.

We finally found the museum. It was very cool. They took the drawings of da Vinci and made models of his many inventions. Many of them were hands on. Brandon had fun. Katrina and I were impressed with how many ideas da Vinci worked on and how many influence our lives today.

It was time for lunch. We found a cafe down the street from the museo and had some pasta for lunch.

After lunch we walked down the street and visited the inside of the Duomo. There were lines waiting to enter when we passed by this morning. This afternoon we just walked right on in. The inside of the Duomo is massive. It is said that it can hold 30,000 people. There isn't much art inside this Duomo. Most of it has been put on display in the Museo Duomo.

The most interesting Duomo history fact concerns the dome. The confidence of the age was high in that the Duomo was built with a big hole in its roof awaiting a dome. This was before the technology to span it with a dome was available. They knew that someone soon could handle the challenge. In the 1400's, the architect Filippo Brunelleschi was called on to finish the job. Brunelleschi capped the church Roman-style - with a tall, self-supporting dome as grand as the ancient Pantheon', which he had studied.

Inside the Duomo.

After leaving the Duomo we headed across the street to the Museo Duomo. The Duomo museo contains many of the original statues from the first Duomo facade, as well as the Ghiberti's original bronze door panels, statues by Donatello, and many more pieces that define the 1400's in Florence.

Michelangelo's 'Pieta', intended to be his sculptural epitaph.

After all this sightseeing we needed an energy boost. Gelato on Duomo piazza did the trick. We enjoyed our gelato sitting on steps near the Duomo.

With renewed energy we headed off to a modelismo shop we had spotted earlier in the day. It turned out to be a huge model and toy shop. They had a nice selection of model trains and a huge selection of Legos. We managed to get out of the store without spending any money.

Brandon and his Lego friend.

This evening we decided to have some cinese. There is a little cinese restaurant down the street from our hotel room. What a great meal. We seem to really enjoy the cinese restaurants here in Europe.

Another great day in Florence.

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