Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Our last day in Florence


Today was another full day of sights in the Tuscan town of Florence, starting with the amazing Uffizi museum.  The building houses famous works by Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.


After leaving the museum we all headed to the Duomo to climb to the top of the dome.  This was a great experience after reading the book Brunelleschi's Dome in class that put into great detail the massive scale and process of building a dome 300 feet tall 600 years ago.  Thus far this was one of the most difficult climbs with a mix of narrow circular staircases, stellar views, and a wooden ladder near the top. 


After lunch we stopped briefly at Santa Croce, which is the resting place of Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli (among many others).  We were disappointed the interior front of the church was under restoration, but it had plenty of eye candy for us all.  The gelato that followed gave us the energy for our next stop.


Even though we had already walked at least two miles and traversed 400 stairs, we made the trek to the monastery of San Miniato al Monte, which has some of the best views of Florence.  Everyone loved the walk through the piazza Michelangelo and up to the cathedral.  The church was relatively tourist free compared to what we saw in the rest of the town and we experienced our first Italian Catholic service.

 It was nearing dinner time as we left the cathedral and we all broke into groups for our last dinner in Florence. 

Ciao until Cinque Terra

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    Starting from the late Middle Ages, Florentine money—in the form of the gold florin—financed the development of industry all over Europe, from Britain to Bruges, to Lyon and Hungary. Florentine bankers financed the English kings during the Hundred Years War, as well as the papacy, including the construction of their provisional capital of Avignon and, after their return to Rome, the reconstruction and Renaissance embellishment of the latter.
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    During World War II the city experienced a year-long German occupation (1943–1944) and was declared an open city. The Allied soldiers who died driving the Germans from Tuscany are buried in cemeteries outside the city (Americans about nine kilometres south of the city, British and Commonwealth soldiers a few kilometres east of the centre on the right bank of the Arno). In 1944, the retreating Germans blew up the bridges along the Arno linking the district of Oltrarno to the rest of the city, making it difficult for the British troops to cross. However, at the last moment Charle Steinhauslin, at the time consulate of 26 countries in Florence, convinced the German general in Italy that the Ponte Vecchio was not to be blown up due to its historical value.
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