Monday, April 03, 2006

Firenze on Sunday

Florence is a little less crazy on Sunday morning it seems as they actually stop tourist visits to the churches while Masses are on, and a large number of the shops are shut. Bells seem to ring a lot, maybe as a Mass finishes in some places, not sure.
I decided to be a Catholic tourist and went to Mass at the Duomo. (Don't choke!) All in Italian of course. At the beginning this lovely older priest got up the front and gave an animated talk about Christianity complete with Italian hand signals in all their glory. You could tell he was asking people to move up closer without knowing the lingo. Then he went down the aisle talking to some of the multi-national congregation.
I then started walking Itinerary 2 from my book. Couldn't go in the Lorenzo Church as Mass was on. Went around the back to the Medici Chapel which had free entry as they are renovating. This is where Florence just amazes me. These Medicis had loads of money, but they did commission some amazing art from artists. Michelangelo's works figured largely in the new sacristy, and I found something especially powerful about an unfinished face, only partially hewed from the marble while the rest of the body had such power and anatomical correctness. There were sketches by Michelangelo on a section of wall too, that kind of made you feel he was in the room.
Donatello, Cellini, Brunelleschi, Giotto.... you just keep coming on sculptures and paintings by them all the time. The queue outside the Academy today for the real David by Michelangelo was huge. Maybe I will try earlier another morning!
I found a pasticceria with affordable lunch right by San Marco Square, and bought a filled roll for 2 Euro and a yummy fruit pastry for 90 cents or centimes or whatever. Plus with an apple from the market it was an affordable option. Sure have to watch the budget here in Firenze. San Marco Square was a lovely peaceful place to sit and eat, actually on seats.
I got to a beautiful big square with the church of St Annunziata. (Sorry about spelling - poor lighting in here for me to read the map!) Mass was beginning at 13:00 and there seemed to be a crowd. Good time for Florentines to arise! There were beautiful Renaissance porticoes on three sides of this square. Under one of them beside a column, a woman dressed very provocatively was having a series of photos taken. I can only guess it might be intended for porn somehow and left before she lost too much clothing. And this was all going on just outside a large church!
Had to get into some lighter clothing yet again! Decided to go for a wander without any cash but soon discovered that was a mistake as even the next two churches I went into wanted 2.50 Euros entry. (You could go and pray in a quiet chapel though, and they did explain that funds went to restoration etc. I mean most tourists are there as if it is a museum of art.)
Visited Santa Maria Novella, which is near the main train station and very close to the hostel I am staying in. (Actually, it is not really a hostel, more of a family home where they let rooms and it is lovely and quiet, and very central, and the family are very welcoming.) The art in Santa Maria is also very impressive, but I guess the main things in here were some crucifixes. A spectacular wooden painted one by Giotto hanging over the main part of the church. An older one by Brunelleschi on the wall, very tortured. I cannot understand all this side of Catholicism/ Christianity at all, but this art shows a lot of passion.
Outside the church was a market for Sunday Florentines instead of tourists, a bit like the Christchurch Art Centre one. There was lush grass on the square with some daisies flowering. Signs said to Keep off the flower beds, but people were lying out there sunbathing in the warm sunshine.
Found this internet cafe nearby in which is obviously a more Arabic part of town. I had to provide a card for identity that got photocopied. I was glad I had learned from someone on another trip to have an expired drivers licence in my wallet for just this purpose!
Bye for now!


  1. Wow - Are you taking lots of pictures?

  2. Quite a few.... but not necessarily of what you might expect! eg I took a photo of the "flowerbeds" you have to keep off that look just my unmown lawn at home in springtime. And today I got a lovely photo of a parking line of motorbikes here in Florence.

    I just booked the train to Rome via Assisi in few days. I was surprised by how cheap it was. Just under 18 Euros.

  3. Florence - now that brings back some memories... full of tourists sounds very familiar.
    That drivers licence idea is a sensible one. Did you know some countries have cheaper entry to museums for teachers? (Turkey or Greece definitely did) I scammed it once with my drivers licence as I had left NZEI etc. at home.

  4. yes... >I brought my teacher´s card along just for that reason but havent been able to use it yet!

    I gave up the queue for seeing David at the Academy today. Queue moved 50m in two hours and still had the same to go. Moral of the story... find out how to get in the pre-booked queue!