Since we didn’t have a tour planned for this morning, we thought we’d go to Mass. Unfortunately, our usual luck followed us and it was a big no-go. Those of you who’ve followed this blog in the past know our efforts to go to Mass have become sort of a joke. We just can’t seem to pull it all together. We had a chat with the concierge last night to find an English Mass and he was happy to look them up for us. He found two . . . but both were on Saturday and we’d already missed them. There were two German Masses today, but no English. Maybe the Germans are more faithful? I just can’t believe there’s isn’t one English Mass somewhere in the city on Sunday given how many tourists are here. Oh, well. Sorry, Mom!
Even though it was Sunday, Florence was open for business. In fact, there was some kind of run this morning so the streets were full of contestants and their families enjoying the beautiful weather. We spent several hours wandering all the streets, getting lost, and finding the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flowers again. It is so beautiful. In front of it is the Baptistry (which is completely wrapped in scaffolding and plastic because it’s being cleaned.) Luckily, the very famous bronze doors, completed in the 1400s, are still there. The picture above is a close up of a couple of the panels. They are stunningly beautiful. When Michelangelo saw them, he declared them perfect and that they must be the doors to paradise.
Speaking of Michelangelo, remember the other day when I was telling you about the medieval building that sort of set the standard for buildings in the future?
Yup, that one. Well, first I have to say the benches built into the building all the way around are a GOD SEND! Thank you ancient architect, you were very thoughtful. What I really wanted to tell you about it is it was originally the palace built by the Medici family when they first came to power in Florence. They lived here when they recognized the genius of Michelangelo when he was only 12. In fact, they brought him to live with them in this building. So, this is the place where Michelangelo grew up.
After about 100 years in this palace, the Medici family sold it to another wealthy family and moved into the Palazzo Vecchio. This is the place where the Statue of David stood for many years and it was also the seat of the government. So, the Medici family lived in the same building where they worked.
Apparently, it got old after awhile and the mistress of the house coveted another house just across the Arno River. It had a garden and she wanted to enforce some private family time on her husband so he wouldn’t always be working. She eventually got her way and the family moved to the Palazzo Pitti.
The problem was the guy in charge had to walk several blocks from his house to his office and it wasn’t very safe. He always needed an armed escort and he had to cross the Ponte Vecchio which caused traffic problems.
The solution? He asked the architect Vasari to design a private corridor from his house to his office. By then, the office was on the top floor of the Palazzo Vecchio, so the corridor begins on the third floor, crosses a bridge to the Ufizi (which was an office building at the time), crosses to the Ponte Vecchio where it was placed on top of the small businesses that line that bridge, it continues over the roofs of several buildings and crosses through a church before it arrives at the Palazzo Pitti. It was built in only 5 months and over the years, the Medici family lined the walls with paintings, a practice that continues today. You can read more about the corridor here.
In short, it permitted the Medici family and their very close friends to travel from home to office in complete privacy. It is said they even sometimes made the trip in their jammies : ) I have some pictures below. It’s closed to the public, but we were able to walk the corridor with the tour we took.
As for the Uffizi, I didn’t take too many pictures; it was VERY crowded. If you want to see the works of art in the Uffizi, they’ve been kind enough to put most of them online. I think this link is a good place to start if you’re curious.
So, now for the pictures!
Some of the little places to eat in Florence are quite charming. Here, we have what appears to be a French Fry Pizza. It’s not even close to the weirdest pizza I’ve seen. I think the tuna pizza, the pumpkin flower pizza (yes, that’s flower, not flour!) and the sliced hard-boiled egg pizza were a little weirder.
In the second picture, you can pick up gelato or pizza and then head upstairs to eat it. All very cozy.
Here are the famous Baptistry doors. They are truly spectacular. You can learn more here:
Okay, so we have to start at the beginning with the Palazzo Vecchio. Remember the building with the scary staircase in the tower? Same place. Here’s a picture.
The picture below is what the front looks like. See that building right next door? That’s the Uffizi. Uffizi means “office” and it houses many government offices, both then and now. The museum is on the third floor. If you look down the alley between the two buildings, there is an enclosed walkway/bridge between the third floors. That is the beginning (or end?) of the Vasari Corridor.
Here’s what the main hallway in the Uffizi Museum looks like. The second picture is a close-up of what the top of the walls and the ceiling looks like. Most of the art is in the rooms that line this hall.
This is the view out the window of the Uffizi. See the yellow building with the narrow tiled roof? That is the Vasari Corridor leaving the Uffizi, turning toward the Ponte Vecchio (the bridge) and you can see where it crosses the bridge on top of the little businesses that line that bridge.
Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the Ufizi. Our tour guide when on, and on, and ON about this painting but did he ever tell us its name? I don’t know, I was zoning out. : ( Seriously, it was incredible to look at it. The colors popped out and it is interesting to note that Michelangelo designed the frame, too, and it is meant to be part of the interpretation of the painting. It’s hard to tell, but it’s probably between 4 and 5 feet in diameter.
Here’s an interesting lady. She’s the very last Medici. The family died out in 1743. It was her Will that helped to make Florence the bastion of art that it is today. She left the entire Medici collection to the City of Florence on the condition that none of it ever leave. In fact, the Uffizi Museum was started a short time later to house some of the masterpieces.
A view down one segment of the Corridor.
A view from one of the many windows along the Corridor.
Here’s a view of the shops on the Ponte Vecchio from the Corridor.
Here’s the church as seen from the Corridor. This part reminded me a little of the Disneyland rides that used to drive through the gift shop as part of the ride. It was a little weird.
The Corridor ended at Palazzo Pitti where I found this in the garden. I felt a little sorry for the turtle. : )
This is another section of the Corridor we saw from the ground when we were walking back to our hotel.
Along the way we also ran across this interesting art. It’s hard to see because it’s so big, but there are “people” zip lining from one building to another and there are others climbing the building. Still others were scattered around on the ground that you could take pictures with. I have no idea what it’s called, why it’s here, nothing. It was just really cool.