As I arrived in the city o Florence the clouds hovered, threatening yet another rain shower. Unfortunately for me, this weather has not been a typical Italian June. That said, I was born in a rain forest so nothing will break my stride. I drop my bags at my modern little dorm of a room (stark contrast from my charming little chamber in the vineyard), grab my purple cat umbrella and make my way through the city streets.
The Renaissance- the rebirth-the shift of focus onto man as ‘the measure of all things’, is captured in the detail of these grand doors, cathedrals, and frescos. It is an era of adornment. The movement where optics, symmetry, geometry, even anatomy (many artists of that time dissected cadavers to fully understand and capture the anatomy of their depictions) spilled into the visual arts that adorned the city.
I am like a crow with shiny things and completely distracted by the shops. The clothes, handbags, shoes! “Holy Mary mother of the fashion gods”, I think to myself. And so I buy myself a hand painted leather jacket. How could I not!
For lunch I make my way down a stone staircase to a restaurant that was built in the 1300’s. I ask the waiter to suggest an authentic starter. He brings me “the poor mans bread”. Bread covered in bacon lard. Yes, my friends, that looks like cheese. But trust me..this is pure bacon fat and it was crazy delicious. I hear the couple next to me try to order a steak well done. The waiter politely informs them that they cannot order a steak well done as it ruins the steak and perhaps they should order a different dish. Ha!! You tell ’em. I order the steak (this is still lunch in case you lost track) and it arrives cooked so beautifully tender I need not use a knife! Mmmmm.
For those of you worried about my impending heart attack ..rest assured I did eat some veggies later that day.
On my list of things to see in Florence was the statue of David. For years I was intrigued by the story of michalengelo- a true renaissance man. I entered the museum and hastefully searched for David. And there he was-17 feet in stature.
I gasped out loud. Then got as close as I could from every angle. This piece was commissioned with the intent to be placed on a roofline however once completed it was apparent it deserved to be revered as its own masterpiece. David’s strength and integrity etched in his marble gaze. I sat for a while longer. Moved. Captivated.
On my last day in Florence I found (I’m starting to think they actually find me) a little restaurant down a side street on the outskirts of the city center and return there to eat dinner. I sit at the bar this time and order, by my servers suggestion, vermicello de grano orso con guazzetto di cozze (handmade pasta made from toasted wheat and fresh seafood). Then for dessert pistachio parfait with hazelnuts and puffed rice. Perfecto!
Once again I do that thing I do and let out a long emphatic sigh of being utterly satisfied.
I spend the evening there conversing with the regular bar patrons and waitstaff and in fact close the place down with them and head out to experience the real Florence. We go for drinks at an ecclectic little cafe.
As we walk and talk about art and culture, I say, “I can’t believe Dante once lived here”..and to my thrill, Alejandro whisks us here and there till we get to a stone house and he declares with arms spread wide..”Tanya this is the house where Dante was born”.
Like seriously can this night get any better. Well it does because before you know it I’m on a roof top over looking the city at eye level to the dome that I couldn’t stretch my neck far enough back to appreciate that very day.