Florence was a literal breath of fresh air. I think it must have been at least ten degrees tempature drop. Even though we spent a whole day walking in the sun I still didnt feel as hot and I tired as I did in Rome ( as in, my ankles werent sweaty) . We only had one really full day in Florence, but my major impressions are once again comments on the catholic church. We pretty much walked from one Piazza to the next, each one had its own, equally impressive Basilica. Yup, we didnt really know what to expect, But now I fully appreciate the exent of saint worship after seeing so many different altars each with a different set of candles and a different saint to pray to. I was shocked when I saw the actual MUMMIES ( for lack of a better word) of a particularly well admired archbishop and a nun. Both bodies were up on beautiful golden altar-I couldnt help but think of the pagan gods of ancient times-how each had a specific expertise and you would go pray to a specific one with a specific problem-somehow seeing it in its LITERAL form as in the Saints coffin being right there in front of you to pray to...that was a bit....ummm....much for me. I cant see HOW that is Biblical.....
Also, seeing SO MANY cathedrals in a radius of a square mile was overwhelming! My,how RICH the catholic church was at one time! It was grossness of wealth in my opinion ( as in I feel there are often better things are money and riches can be going towards) it was a good reminder of how I feel about the protestant church today-especially here in the south of the united states ( the Bible Belt) where you can see GIANT churches...often on every street corner. While there is a difference in that these huge churches of today are not NEARLY as beautiful...I still find the similarities sobering.
My favorite Cathedral ( Basilica) was by far Santa Croches which houses the tombs of Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Galileo. Seeing them, people I've studied, some i've admired....it was cool to see. We also went to the Pitti home...which was one of the largest homes built where the ruling families of Florence lived. It now houses and incredible collection of art. It was there that I saw a portrait of Queen Elizabeth that has been on the cover of two of my anthologys that I studied in Renissance Literature! It was SOOO cool to see it in person, no fanfare...just there among a good 500 other pieces of art....crazy.
We took a day trip into Tuscany from Florence. Even though Florence was cooler and less crowded it is STILL a city and still full of tourists-so getting into small villages was really appreciated. We went to Vinci where we went to the Leonardo museum, they have made models of all the eperiments he detailed in his journals. And speaking as someone who has NO expertise or knowlede of engeneering, science or other such endeavors...I can say confidently even with just scratching the surface, as I did, that man was incredible! I know I only studied him in a limited fashion while I was in school...but I think he would REALLY be worth learing more about.
Now, museums aside, I could TOTALLY live in Vinci! It was totally a "beautiful wish you were here!" kina place! Tuscany really IS fully of vineyards and fields of sunflowers!! We also went to the town od Bucca which was a good example of a town that while it doesnt have something hugley famous like Pisa ( which really JUST consists of the leaning tower surrounded by tourist trap shops)-no matter how you look at it it still has more history in it that all of the United States! The church we visited there, while not very remarkable on the surface, had done extensive excavation( spelling?) under the church! You can go down and actually see the Roman Baths that were there during the 1st century and then the the church that had been there in the second century complete with graffiti on one of its outer walls!
We also visited a tiny museum there that had various relics on display...there is truly nothing like seeing the finger of some Martyr or Saint to really make you stop and thank God that Martin Luther posted his opinions on the door of that church....
Before we headed off to Venice we made one final stop in Florence, to see the sculpture of David. And yes, it was everything he was cracked up to be-only bigger. It was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. There was also a really cool display of pictures taken from the prospective of the sculpture-just a bunch of people looking up at it-I thought it was very neat.
Ah, last stop-Venice.