Waking up to the sound of birds and nothing else really made me glad to be in the hills above Florence for my last four nights here. Augie and Teresa are staying longer in the area after my departure. Andrea’s olive farm is in the hills above Caldine, very near Fiesole, with a view of Florence in the distance. Andrea’s cat Cleopatra crying at the door for milk first thing in the morning made me feel at home.
It was our first day in Florence, and we planned to do some sightseeing. Andrea had suggested that we take the train from Caldine (5 minutes down the hill from the farm) into the main train station in Florence instead of driving. We were all for that as no one wanted to try to find parking in Florence and it was only a short 15 minute ride. It worked out well.
As you exit the Florence train station the Santa Maria Novella is right across the Piazza Della Stazione. None of us had toured this church before so it was a good place to start. The foundation stone was blessed in 1279, and the church completed in 1420. The most incredible frescoes detailing the Stories from Genesis, painted by Paolo Uccello in the first half of the 15th century, cover the walls of the Green Cloister. We spent some time in this room reading the descriptions and picking out the scenes of Original Sin and the Great Flood. In the foreground of my favorite frescoe, “…in front of the pope and the emperor, the flock of the faithful is protected by two black and white dogs, the so-called Domini canes (the Lord’s dogs) which traditionally symbolize the Dominican Friars.”
In the Basilica we found the large Crucifix painted by Giotto and Botticelli’s Nativity.
From Santa Maria Novella we walked towards the Ponte Vecchio and did some window shopping. That part of Florence is lined with expensive shops, so we just looked. Animal prints seem to be in style for this fall.
After crossing the Arno we found a wonderful local place for lunch, Trattoria La Casalinga, ordered the pasta specialty and the house red, and settled in. It was definitely where the locals eat as we saw men in paint covered overalls tuck in for a bowl of pasta (the first plate), plus a whole fish (the second plate), and more. We were happy with just the pasta.
After lunch we made our way back towards the Ponte Vecchio and I found one item I had been looking for – beautiful shoes in a lovely color and on sale. Teresa also found a beautiful pair of shoes, not hard to do here, making us both happy shoppers. So we did do a little shopping after all.
Completely satisfied with a belly full of pasta and new shoes, we cruised by the Uffizi to see how long the wait was for tickets. It was too long, and since I had already toured that museum many years ago, we decided to continue towards the Duomo and then the Galleria dell’Accademia to check out the line for Michelangelo’s David. That line was about a block long and in the sun. Since we were hot and tired, we headed back towards the train station, walking through the outdoor market, making deals on a purse, and stopping for a gelato.
We were happy to leave the hot and crowded city streets and return to our sanctuary in the hills above. After a refreshing dip in the pool and nearing sunset, Teresa and I drove the short distance into Fiesole to try to capture a photo of Florence as the sun went down and the lights came up. It was 830 pm when we finally got the shot we wanted, so back to the house for another pasta dinner, happy after a long day.