Drive-by shooting: Firenze

Welcome to Firenze, the “Athens of the Middle Ages”

Ask me which part of Italy one should not miss out on and my reply would be Tuscany Valley, and that comes with a word of caution—prepare to fall in love with the place.

Sure, the ancient city of Rome is a spectacle and of course, you’d want to see the St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican (which is probably the first on any Catholic person’s list), the fingers of God and Adam touching in the Sistine Chapel, or even marvel in the magnificence of the Colosseum but personally, there is something about the Tuscan region that is quite romantic, magical I should say, and is as exciting as Rome can be minus the bustle of the city. I had the chance to visit the area a few years back and just like Paris, I said this is one place I don’t mind visiting again and again, and voila! the spoken words did come true.

Florence in the Tuscany Region is a place known for its landscapes.

Having toured the must-see sights in Rome, we found more time on our hands and decided to take a day trip to the capital city of the Tuscany region, Florence, and if time permitted, we’d head to Pisa as well.

The Arno River is the most important river of central Italy after the Tiber.

A day to experience the magic is not enough, you’d have to stay longer and immerse yourself in the Florentine vibe. Like they say, beggars can’t be choosers, we had the “extra” time but not that much. But to be in the birthplace of the Renaissance once more, even if it’s just for a few hours, is a gift I will never say no to.

Before sunrise on the appointed day, we hit the road to the “Athens of the Middle Ages”, a place known for its landscapes, traditions, history, artistic legacy and influence on high culture—Firenze.

The Tuscan sun greeting us on the way to Firenze.

David, still buffed and naked, lives in the area. Yes, Michaelangelo’s original marble statue of the biblical hero who slew Goliath is in the Galleria dell’Accademia. Venus’s baby picture is well preserved in the Uffizi Gallery, only they call it the Birth of Venus rendered by a Renaissance master, Botticelli, who also painted another image of her joined by Aglaea, Euphrosyne and Thalia aka the Graces, Cupid and Mercury as well in another picture they call Primavera. Since you’re in the area, visit Medusa and her Carravagio headshot (selfie not available then).

The Basilica of Santa Croce on the Piazza di Santa Croce is the principal Franciscan church in Florence and the largest Franciscan church in the world.

How about the name Medici? Does it ring a bell? These are the one-time residents, the grand dukes, of Tuscany who became Firenze’s most influential citizens. Not only did they own the largest bank in Europe during the 15th century, the House of Medici was a political dynasty that produced popes and regents as well.

Charming narrow streets that lead to the historic city center.

Unfortunately, we didn’t meet any of Firenze’s famous characters and see its must-see sights having little time to get off our ride, a private van and not a hop on, hop off tourist bus which would have shown us more of the city. But we managed to stop and get off at the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore aka the Il Duomo di Firenze to light a candle and say a short prayer of thanks.

Giotto’s Campanile & the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore at the Piazza del Duomo is part of Florence’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Well, one of the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the region was good enough for them (and me)… for the time being, at least. Maybe the quick peek of the place will urge them to go back for more and see the rest in Siena, San Gimignano, Pienza, etc.

After a quick lunch at a fancy restaurant to celebrate the golden wedding anniversary of the Asistidos, we bid one of the world’s most visited cities arrivederci! See you soon Firenze and we will be drinking more of your glorious wines.

*****

For more travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/


Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on June 19, 2014.



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