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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Florence - Day 3

First stop is inside the duomo of Florence, Santa Maria Della Fiore to take a better look at Vasari's fresco


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Florence - Day 2

It's back to the market and this time I'm armed with the camera. We start our morning at one of the coffee bars in the market - a perfectly made cafe latte that has Paalo grinning. It doesn't take much prodding to get me to order another.

The market is on two levels, the upstairs mostly containing fresh fruit and veg while the lower level houses the delis, butchers, poulterers, fishmongers, wine-stores and general merchants.

inside market

inside market


An impressive array of dried Porcini.

vinegar's, oils, nuts

Various vinegar's, oils and nuts


Many varieties of Olives


Where do you start at this deli?

One of the stalls we particularly loved is the dried fruit stall that had the largest variety I've ever seen

dried fruit

dried fruit

dried fruit

dried fruit

The dried strawberries have to be tasted to be believed!


fruit and chillies

more vegetables

Enough of the food porn - time to explore a bit more of Florence.

We decide to make our way to the Uffizi and see if we can get in. Our journey takes us past that icon, Santa Maria del Fiore, the Duomo of Florence.

santa maria del fiore

santa maria del fiore

santa maria del fiore santa maria del fiore


The Bapistry


Looking at the height of that tower you can understand why a fleet of these are stationed just beside it


It's not just coincidence, when you go into the tower itself, before you even buy a ticket, there's a whole slew of health warnings and notifications of who shouldn't attempt the climb.

palazzo della signoria

Palazzo della Signoria also known as Palazzo Vecchio was built between the 13th and 16th centuries.


I must say the Italian police are wonderfully dressed.

faux david

It's not the original, it's a copy but it's positioned in the original location in front of the Palazzo della Signoria.

Located nearby is the Loggia del Lanzi (Orcagna) originally built to hold public ceremonies is now home to 15 sculptures

perseus lion menelaus

Left: Perseus with the head of Medusa by Benvenuto Cellini
Centre: two lions sit beside the steps of the Loggia, one dates from Roman times and the other is by Flaminio Vacca
Right: Menelaus supporting the body of Patroclus


Hercules beating the Centaur Nessus (1599)

sabine women

Rape of the Sabine Women by Jean Boulogne (also known as Giambologna)

sabine women detail


Rape of Polyxena by Pio Fedi (1866)

You hear a lot about the queues at the Uffizi but just like yesterday at L'Accademia, there aren't any queues.

Photography isn't allowed inside but we did stop at the rooftop cafe for a nibble and a couple of photos of the view

Uffizi Cafe

You get an idea of how large the dome is on the Duomo.

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You also get a better view of the Palazzo della Signoria

san lorenzo

The rough exterior of the Church of San Lorenzo

street scene

My last shot of the night - a view from our window.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Florence - Day 1

There's two good things about our place in Florence - its a 5 minute walk from the station and a minute from the Central Market.

We meet our hostess at the door and it's then a four flight climb to our apartment - we're going to get fit on those steps!

After settling in we scurry off to get to the market before it closes. You won't believe how I've been craving the ability to be able to cook my own food and Paalo has been looking forward to having me cook his dinner ;)

Needless to say it's an assault on the senses and accompanied by the pack horse Paalo, we certainly stock up.


As soon as we are back in the apartment we spread out our goodies - yes, possibly a bit excessive but it was all too good.

taleggio buffalo mozzarella Italian butter

Taleggio, real buffalo mozzarella and Italian butter

cherry tomatoes and baby potatoes salami mortadella

the best cherry tomatoes and baby potatoes, real milano salami and D.O.P mortadella....

and then there's the real Parma


I think we're going to enjoy ourselves here.

In the afternoon we decided to explore a bit of the area and headed off towards the Galleria dell'Accademia. Originally planned as more of a scouting exercise, we were most pleased to discover the absence of any queue. We decided to take advantage of the situation and entered.

There's no photography allowed inside - it's amusing to the many ways people try to take sneaky photos. It's amazing how they now know how to turn off the flash, funny they never seem to manage that at the places that don't allow flash photography.

The major attraction here is Michelangelo's David - it's positioned behind thick safety glass after a hammer attack back in 1991 which managed to damage a toe. A side effect of that attack was that they finally could analyse the marble and found it came from near Carrara, until then they didn't have a clue.

It was odd seeing something so recognisable up close and then realising there are things about the statue you never picked up in the photos. You never noticed the objects held in his curled fingers or the way the sling sits upon his back.

Train: Rome to Florence

Unfortunately the taxi that had been ordered never arrived - I think it got snatched by the large hotel just opposite. We decide to head to the main road and take a taxi from the taxi rank there rather than just wait forever.

Luckily it proves to be the correct decision and before long we're on our way to the station. The trip is nowhere near as entertaining but nowhere near as expensive only costing €12!


The train to Florence is the Italian Eurostar branded trains and it only takes a very brief 1 and a half hours to complete the trip.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Rome - Day 4

It's another early start to make it to St Peters - it's only a short wait until we get inside.


La Pieta - there are many copies but this is the original. Michelangelo was only 24 when he carved this masterpiece. It sits behind a massive panel of glass.

dome ceiling

Written on the frieze of the south wall of the nave, text taken from the gospel of St Luke:
I have prayed for you Peter that your faith my never fail and you in turn must strengthen your brothers


On the North wall, the text is taken from the gospel of St Matthew:
I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

holy water bowl

Located on the nave, a vessel for holy water.



Circling the base of the dome are the words from St Matthew's Gospel, where Jesus speaks to Peter and say "Tu es Petrus et super hac petram aedificabo ecclesiam mean et tibi dabo claves regni caelorum" - You are the Rock and on this rock I will build my Church, to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

pio x altar of the transfiguration

Left: Monument to St Pius X - his body is under the under the altar in the Presentation Chapel. Pope Pius X was always quite an important figure in my household as he was born in my fathers village, the municipality of which was subsequently named Riese Pio X.

Right: Altar of the Transfiguration, painting by Raphael (1520)



Pius VIII St Gregory the Great Pius VII

Left: Monument to Pius VIII - the pope is shown kneeling before Christ with Sts Peter and Paul and His side.

Centre: Altar of St Gregory the Great - St Gregory is buried underneath the altar and his name lives on in Gregorian chants.

Right: Monument to Pius VII - the pope is flanked by two angels and standing by the portal are Divine Fortitude (on the left) and Wisdom (on the right)


Papal Altar - the canopy (Baldacchino) is 95ft high and created by Bernini. St Peter's tomb sits under the altar.


Inside the Baldacchino at its centre is a dove, which symbolises the Holy Spirit - it is surrounded by golden rays.

dome dome

The Dome of St Peter's stands above the Baldacchino - it has a perimeter of 71 meters and is 120 meters from the ground.

baldacchino and nave

The Baldacchino - looking towards the church entrance

cathedra petri Cathedra Petri

Cathedra Petri - Altar of the Chair of St Peter
The text on the frieze is written on the left in Latin and on the right in Greek and says: O Pastor Ecclesiae, tu omnes Christi pascis agnos et oves - O pastor of the Church, you feed all Christ's lambs and sheep.

St Lucia Filippini

Statue of St Lucia Filippini

St Longinus Pius XII St Helen

Left: St Longinus - was the centurion who stabbed Christ during his crucifixion and subsequently converted. He is shown holding the lance.

Centre: Monument to Pius XII

Right: St Helen - she was Emperor Constantine's mother. During a pilgrimage to the Holy land she discovered the True Cross, which she is shown holding. The relic is now held in St Peter's.

st andrew

The Statue of St Andrew is found at the entrance to the grottoes. He was the brother of St Peter and was crucified on a X shaped cross.


One final view of this grand church - inside and outside

outside st peters

Our next stop is the Vatican Museum - I think the queue is always long here but since this is our last day in Rome we didn't have much of a choice but to wait.

Once we entered we decided to try to get to the Sistine chapel as quickly as possible - in hindsight it was probably the wrong thing to do as we rushed past many artefacts and works of art rather than take our time to savour them.

You do get some good views of Rome - even though it's a bit smoggy




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Gallery of Maps

The Gallery of Maps - beyond the beautiful ceiling, the gallery is frescoed with 40 maps showing Catholic lands and important cities. Painted between 1580-1585 by various artists under the supervision of famed geographer Ignazio Santi.

Gallery of Maps

This gives you an idea of the crowd we've been perpetually behind - it's painful trying to get a photo without people in it.

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After what seemed like forever we finally reached the Sistine Chapel and it was not a very pleasant environment. All those signs requesting silence and a respectful attitude were totally ignored - between the noise and the flashes you'd think you were in a night-club. The guards were hopelessly outnumbered and ignored when they tried to do something.

Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel

It was a disappointment to find such disrespect and it meant that it was impossible to actually take in the beauty of the chapel. After having taken so long to get here, we left quite quickly.


We return to last night's wine bar


and Paalo is so famished he could eat a horse - and indeed he did!

Look away, you may not want to see Paalo's Cavallo Carpaccio (Horse Carpaccio - yes, it wasn't just horse, it was raw horse)

horse carpaccio

I had the rather more politically correct Swordfish Carpaccio

swordfish carpaccio

just look at those beautiful slices of fish


I will spare those sensitive types the close up of Paalo's dish.