Florence, Italy

Early morning view from my window at the farm

Early morning view from my window at the farm

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.

Santa Maria Novella

Santa Maria Novella

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.

One of Paolo Uccello's frescoes in the Green Cloister

One of Paolo Uccello’s frescoes in the Green Cloister

A close up of the Lord's dogs in the frescoe

A close up of the Lord’s dogs in the frescoe

Green Cloister frescoe

Green Cloister frescoe

Green Cloister ceiling

Green Cloister ceiling

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.

Santa Maria Novella basilica interior with the Giotto crucifix

Santa Maria Novella basilica interior with the Giotto crucifix

Botticelli's Nativity in the basilica. Photo credit Teresa Favazza

Botticelli’s Nativity in the basilica. Photo credit Teresa Favazza

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.

Window shopping

Window shopping

Fall style

Fall style

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.

The house specialty pasta at Trattoria La

The house specialty pasta at Trattoria La Casalinga

A satisfied customer

A satisfied customer

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.

The Ponte Vecchio from the back of the shoe shop

The Ponte Vecchio from the back of the shoe shop

The other side of the Ponte Vecchio

The other side of the Ponte Vecchio

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.

Statues in the Piazza Signoria

Statues in the Piazza Signoria

horses

lion

horse statue

The Duomo

The Duomo

The Florence market

The Florence market

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.

The narrow streets near the top of Fiesole

The narrow streets near the top of Fiesole

Me overlooking Florence from Fiesole

Me overlooking Florence from Fiesole

A Fiesole cafe in color sketch

A Fiesole cafe in color sketch

The night shot of Florence we worked to get

The night shot of Florence we worked to get

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