Florence has been referred to as the “Cradle of the Renaissance”. It is the capital of the Tuscany Region in Italy and it houses some of the greatest artistic treasures in the world. If you asked me what a highlight of my trip was, hands down it’s Florence – I absolutely loved this city. A strong artisan community with a long list of must sees and must dos that could keep you exploring endlessly. I had 3 days and I am a huge art fan, especially from the Renaissance and Impressionist periods. Going back and continuing my exploration is a requirement – I barely scratched the surface.
As Florence is a very walkable city – I decided to put aside my map and wander. I find this is one of the best ways for me to explore a new place. One of the first things I took note of in my wanderings was the wonderful architecture. To be clear, all of Italy has beautiful architecture, but Florence was unique all over again. I have a love for windows, doorways and courtyards – of which there was no shortage in this lovely place.
Wandering straight down one of the streets off-shooting from the Grand Piazza Duomo where my B&B was, I passed the Uffizi museum and then a couple of blocks further ran straight into the banks of the Arno River where the infamous Ponte Vecchio is. Ponte Vecchio means “old bridge” – built in 1345, it was Florence’s first bridge from the medieval days to span over the Arno River and the only surviving bridge after the devastation of World War II. It is a beautiful sight on a sunny day with all its old world charm and lovely pastel colors. You can walk over the bridge (along with 5 million other people ;)) and enjoy merchants selling gold and silver, restaurants, cafes, and countless artisans displaying art and working their craft.
Back to the Galleria degli Uffizi – this museum is one of Italy’s most crowded, as it holds the most important pieces of art from the Renaissance period – paintings, sculptures, and tapestries. Highlights of the artists work you will see here are Michelangelo, Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino, and Raphael. If you’re an appreciator of art, I can’t recommend this museum highly enough. It was indescribable how it felt to stand in front of original Michelangelo and Boticelli pieces. Paintings as large and larger than my living room walls. Beautiful. Best thing to do when you arrive in town and you want to see this gallery, ask your concierge at the hotel or owner of the B&B to make you a reservation. You’ll be appointed a time to visit, and then won’t have to deal with the endless lineups to get in. For an extra 5 Euros, it’s completely worth it.
The other museum that is also worth making a reservation for is the Galleria dell’ Accademia – this is where the infamous Michelangelo Statue of David resides. I decided to limit my museum going this time to the two above mentioned galleries.
I spent the remainder of my time wandering the city and conversing with a few artisans along the way. And believe me, they pop up everywhere to do their work. This gentleman below set up shop on a sidewalk and was painting his current inspiration of the large Duomo (Cathedral dome). He was lovely to talk to – although limited in his English and me in my Italian…he welcomed me to photograph him at work as I liked.
I have to be honest and confess that creating images on this trip up until I reached Florence had been an enormously painful challenge – and I think a separate post dedicated to that topic should be written.
Why this was, I wasn’t certain at the time. I believe that this was happening for a variety of reasons. I felt as though my vision was consistently 10 miles ahead of me – and cruelly taunting me from that distance…leaving me feeling like a miserable and lousy artist/photographer. If any of you are familiar with Julia Cameron’s work (The Artist’s Way, The Vein Of Gold, Walking In this World – to name only a few titles) she has a daily program of morning pages and weekly artist dates – meant to refill the creative well. All too often we forge ahead in our creative lives and get so busy creating, we forget that the artist inside us needs replenishment, nourishment and extreme care. And if we don’t take care to refill the creative well as we’re working feverishly away, we run the risk of having those dry spells, feeling blocked and like nothing works.
I can see now, that Florence, was the place for me to put down my creative burdens, rest for 3 days, and refill the creative well. I didn’t take many pictures. Instead, I immersed myself in the museums, drank in all the beautiful art of the Renaissance masters, took in the street artisans, talked with them, absorbed all the sights, the architecture, the morning sunrise along the Arno River, and fed that starving artist that had become so depleted. I thought I had come this far to Italy to take pictures, but in fact, I understand now that it was the place for me to have a creative revival of the best kind!
Thank you Firenze!