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Firenze/Florence 17-22 Oct

ITALY | Monday, 15 November 2010 | Views [350]

From Venice, we headed southeast to the Tuscan city of Florence (2 hrs by train and our base for the next 6 days). It’s a relatively small but fascinating, historical and rich city. Previously ruled by the powerful Medici family (from 14th –18th century) who supported the Renaissance art and architecture. The Medici dynasty basically started the banking industry, was involved in Tuscan politics & religion (‘produced’ 2 popes) and are patrons of the art. The last direct Medici heir (Anna Maria Luisa) willed all of the Medici wealth & possessions to the Tuscan state, with the condition that they never leave Florence (lucky for Firenze). I was actually fortunate enough to view some of the artworks (located at the Uffizi Gallery) that were commissioned and collected by the Medici family (artworks by Botticelli, Michelangelo and Leonard da Vinci..to name a few). Going through Florence, you will easily stumble upon The Duomo (or cathedral). It easily dominates a few blocks of Firenze with its ‘grand’ green & white marble exterior. However, internally the Duomo is relatively bare and simple which was so inconsistent with its exterior. What is more inconsistent was the Basilica di San Lorenzo…once the Medici ‘chapel’ and close by is the burial place of some of the Medici grand dukes. Surprisingly, the church looked neglected and forgotten. It doesn’t seem to reflect the importance of its once powerful ‘parishioners’. (At one time, the Medicis employed half of Florence’s population)! I also managed to see the residences of the Medici (Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Vecchio). Both are now museums and are connected by the Ponte Vecchio (the last remaining original bridge in Firenze). And of course in between the historical buildings are the upmarket stores and expensive cafes/restaurants. Where I sampled a traditional Tuscan dish called Ribollita, very thick vegetable soup…delizioso!

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