Thursday, November 5, 2009

Florence, Italy (September 18, 2009)

We woke up early to climb to the top of Bruneleschi's Dome. Rachel decided to stay behind so she could get some laundry done.

Getting there early paid off because we were able to go right in without waiting in line. It was a fun & tiring 463 steps up a thin, musty & dark spiral staircase. It was good that we did the climb early in the morning & in September. It would have been miserably hot in the middle of the summer.

This is Christi at the start of the climb. She was rested and full of energy.

It was nice when we passed by a small window or opening so we could get some fresh air.

Christi climbing up the spiral staircase.

We were almost at the base of the dome. Christi is starting to feel the pain.

We got to walk around the inside of the dome.

It was really nice to see the painting up close.

More fresh air.

The last part of the climb up the arch of the dome. Major leg burn on this part of the climb.

Christi was ready for a nap after the long climb up.

The Southern view from the top of the dome. You can see the Badia Fiorentina bell tower & the Torre d'Arnolfo in the background.

The Eastern view.

The view West towards the front of the Duomo & Giotto's bell tower.

Christi & Cathey enjoying the fresh air and view.

The climb down.

A view from the base of Giotto's bell tower.

The detail was amazing.

After walking around the Duomo we went back to the room & met up with Rachel. We explored some more of the side streets and made our way over to the Uffizi Gallery.

There were several street performers posing as statues.

And many real statues of famous Italians.

There were also a number of local artists painting & selling their work.

We made our way over to the Arno River where there were areas along the river for the locals to sun bathe.

Then continued to the Medieval Ponte Vecchio. It's one of the only bridges that didn't get bombed by the Germans in World War II and one of the oldest bridges in Florence. The bridge is crammed full of shops. It is said that the economic concept of bankruptcy originated here. When a merchant could not pay his debts, the table on which he sold his wares (the "banco") was physically broken ("rotto") by soldiers. The practice was called "bancorotto" or broken table. It possibly could have come from "banca rotta" which means broken bank. Not having a table anymore the merchant was not able to sell anything.

Some graffiti on the bridge. At least they have good taste.

In the middle of the bridge, around the statue of Benvenuto Cellini, there are hundreds of padlocks known as "Loving Locks". The tradition began when young men had to leave for military service. They attached a lock to one of the bridges before their departure as a promise to return home. The act of attaching a lock to a bridge symbolizes the unbreakable bonds of true love. The bridge symbolizes uniting two sides.

Christi & Cathey on the Ponte Vecchio.

We made our way over to the Piazza de' Pitti and found a great place to eat lunch. This is a sculpture in front of the Piazza.

The palazzo was originally the town residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker and dates from 1458. The palace was later bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. During the 18th century it was used as a power base by Napoleon. Currently it is open to the public and holds one of the largest art galleries in Florence.

Next to the palazzo there were many local artists painting & selling their work. Rachel bought a painting from this colorful artist. He wouldn't let anyone take his picture. When Rachel bought a painting he was more than happy to pose.

He mixed his paint from these cans of primary colors.

We made our way back across the Ponte Vecchio and ran across another street artist.

As we passed by the Duomo again I was able to get this shot of the side of the church that hasn't been cleaned yet.

On our way to the Piazzale Michelangelo we stopped by the Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross). It is the burial place of some of the most illustrious Italians, such as Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Foscolo, Gentile, Rossini & Marconi. It is also known as the Temple of the Italian Glories (Tempio dell'Itale Glorie).

This is the view of Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo as the sun was setting.

There is another copy of David at the Piazzale commonly called the "Green David".

On our way down from the Piazzale we stopped by the Porta San Niccolo. It is a tower of the bastion that was built in 1324 and forms the beginning of the ancient city wall.

From there we walked down Via S Niccolo and found a nice restaurant off the beaten path. We liked it so much we went back on our last night in Florence. The menu was hand written & was full of locals.

After dinner we went back to the Ponte Vecchio, watched a live band by the statue of Benvenuto Cellini & then made our way back to our room to rest our tired feet.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fall Leaves in Oklahoma

I went with Christi to visit her Mom, brother & nieces in Oklahoma a few weeks ago. I was able to get some fun shots of the kids playing in the leaves.