Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Things to Do on a Rainy Day in Firenze

Tuesday morning, our final full day in Firenze. We didn’t have a plan, so during breakfast at our B & B we consulted with Rick. It seemed like it was time to visit the church in our own back yard: Santa Croce. Are we ever glad we decided to visit. Turns there’s a quartet of kinda famous guys buried there: Michelangelo, Machiavelli , Dante, and Galileo. Oh, and more recently, 1950s something, that Enrico Fermi guy, of nuclear power fame. The church was surprisingly beautiful; it wasn’t overly decorated, but was simple Renaissance. And it was so much more than a sanctuary and tombs. There were also a few surprises along the way. The church had a fabulous leather store and workshop and we were able to watch artisans at their craft. It appears by the photos on the wall that lots of famous people have stopped by for a lookie loo (and probably to purchase one of their beautiful purses or briefcases). Howard was looking at a little leather shell-shaped box and it cost 250 Euros. Yikes Almighty! Out of our price range, but probably was okay for Princess Di and Prince Charles and the likes of Jack Nickalaus.

On the lower level with a very simple entrance, as if going into a lower level grotto or underground passageway, we discovered a wonderful exhibit of printing, with a sign reading Pietro Parigi Xilografo. I don’t know Italian or any of the terminology, but we took several photos because I know a few of my Portland Artist’s Way women are involved in different kinds of printmaking. The exhibit showed various wood blocks, which had been carved, and then the corresponding pamphlets, book covers, and posters. We think the friars ran a printing business in this basement area since there was even some kind of printing press. Here are photos for you printmakers to decipher.

The church also had a very fine museum that we thoroughly enjoyed. A sampling:

Finally, there was a modern art exhibit in the courtyard by current artist Roberto Joppolo. Howard loves modern art, so here are a couple of shots of Roberto's work:

For lunch, we dined at Il Fiorino and although the owners were rather grumpy, they had good food – lots and lots of vegetables to choose from and they were almost crunchy.

By this time, it was pouring down rain, so we set out to visit a museum, the Museum of San Marco, as much to get out of the rain as to see the exhibits. However, just as we arrived, it was closing (it was all of 1:00 p.m. – guess they close early in the off season).

We decided to visit another church instead (it was open until 17:00, or 5:00 p.m.), the San Lorenzo Church. The outside of the church was so bad, Howard thought it was the rear of the church. Turns out the Pope cut off funding for finishing the building in the 1420s, so the outside remains austere. The inside was nice, church nice, lots of beautiful paintings, sculptures by Donatello and the rest of the gang. No inside photos allowed, but here is the outside:

We putzed around the rest of the afternoon, got very very wet. Oh, but, we did discover a very fine little religious shop and I went nuts (documented by Howard).

My religious icons are fabulous and I have to share them with you here. Please note I got my Virgin Mary with a golden halo, but no lights. However, I do believe she glows in the dark. Can’t beat that!

Howard picks up the narrative here:

By the end of our wanderings, we were both pretty tired, what with slightly pulled muscles in our legs and wet feet. As we headed home, Dayna’s ever vigilant eye caught an Obama poster on which someone had hand printed in bold “President.” The posterboard image had been slid behind a plastic cover originally designed to protect a larger advertising poster. Now why this caught her attention is beyond me, but it did. As we walked I could see her mind churning on how she could get it out from behind the plastic. I told her, if she pulled out a wire with a hooked end on it, then I will know what she does in the middle of the night as I sleep. Well, low and behold, she took her cheap, and I mean cheaply made, not cheaply priced, umbrella, and literally ran back to the poster, took the end of one of the wire supports from the umbrella, slid it along the bottom pushing the card out from behind with the speed and craft only a burglar could have. I was stunned. Dayna never ceases to amaze me.

We finally had a fantastic Italian meal, one worth writing about: Ristorante La Maremma is the restaurant (and only a few doors down from our B & B). Unfortunately, we didn't take the camera. Mistake, because the food was beautifully prepared. Since Howard ate more than I did, I'm going to have him describe our meals:

So, I get to write, if I eat more then Dayna. Huh, I should have been writing since we began the trip. As you know, Dayna is vegetarian and I am not. It generally works out that regardless of what I order, Dayna's is better. This was no exception.

We both had the same salad. It was a mixture of fresh greens, carrots, beautiful ripe tomates and pomogrant seedss in a basalmatic dressing that was beautifully presented. We knew instantly we should have brought the camera.

Dayna's main entree consisted of fresh pasta filled with ricotta cheese over a bed of rich vegetable puree. I knew hers was going to be better then mine, but I know if I bide my time, I'll get a few bites. My 1st entree was also fresh pasta, only filled with soft potatoes with a mushroom and, I believe, a wild boar sauce. It was beautifully presented and delicious. However, my last bite of the 1st entree was Dayna's last bite of pasta, which she insisted I eat, even after my tortured protests that I did not deserve her last bite. I grabbed it quickly before she could change her mind; it was delicious.

My next and last course was chicken and balsalmic drizzles on a bed of greens. It was not only tasty, but presented equally as well. Actually, they used a thick balsamic sauce to draw lines on the plate above and below the pieces of chicken to set off the entree. Nice art work.

We leave Firenze on Wednesday morning, not exactly sure where we're going. We like the looks of a sculpture park in Chianti, so that may be our first destination. Stay tuned.

Post Script:
I chickened out on leaving graffiti on the walls of the city (and Howard said he couldn't support me in that particular activity). So, I left our mark at the back of the second drawer in the wardrobe in our room.


Anonymous said...

i'm getting alot of good ideas for what to take to argentina: screwdriver, check! long piece of wire, check! gloves to protect hands while picking up broken glass, check. i'm keeping my little diary right next to the computer. thanks!! vicki

Anonymous said...

i'm wondering if you've bot that extra suitcase yet, like in n.y.c.?? looks to me like your close to the amount of wonderful finds... or did you take along an empty one just for this reason?! i could be jealous of the boots and the polka dot tights, but i'm really in love with the obama poster and how you got it!! vicki

Dayna Collins said...

Vicki, and anyone else who might like to the know the secret to buying too much stuff (or finding it on the street), the answer to the problem is this: Mail Boxes, Etc. We shipped two boxes home last week. 'Nuff said. Dayna

Peshe said...

rainy days: dead people - tombs, church walls, sculpture, prayer cards. live people - sculpture, Obama, shopkeepers, people who eat yummy food, walking in the rain.

So Vicki, I've a wish list for you, when you go to the Argentine. they've got great leather stuff too! and artsy posters and trash. some dirt from where my Dad was raised. British compound in Buenos Aires ;)

Destree said...

I was hoping you would leave your mark in Firenze...that's a cool compromise though.

Anonymous said...

I am enjoying your blog soo much. When Maggie and I were in Firenze a year and a half ago we stayed just around a couple of blocks from the same little church near you, "Croce" (can't remember how to title it in Italiano). Reviewing the sights and hearing the adventures in the same places you have been is like dusting the cobwebs off in my memory. Thank you, thank you for taking the time to blog your adventures. They are rich, and colorful, and fun. Ahhh, it opens my heart and expands my chest as if I were replenishing my soul with the abundance of your adventures.

Ahh, the sumptious David!! Ahh, the antique market!! Ahh, the scarves and leather goods!! Ahh, the madonnas and religious treasures!! Ahh, the capuccinos!! Ahh, the Ponte au Vechio!! Ahh, ahh, ahh!!!

Good job on the boots!! And the shoes, Howard!

Dayna, I know how it feels to miss home. But it seems to happen around the two week mark and then you pass through it and settle into a slower pace (due to exhaustion usually). While traveling I found that my dreams were sooo deep and vivid and real and colorful. I think it was due to all of the cappucinos I drank and all of the sensory overload of sights and the Italian language.

My laundromat has always been the bidets when traveling. Fill it with some soap and hot water and let the undies and socks soak. Of course you need be staying there long enough to let them hang dry.

Curious to see where you land next.

Just fabulous...graci for sharing the adventure...

Ciao, arrivederci-