Bethany from Florence, November 11, 2006

written by bryan on November 18th, 2006 @ 11:02 AM

Today’s pictures on flickr

Remembrance Day. How a part of me yearned to be at the War Memorial in Ottawa today or in the north of France. This day passed without any indication in Italy. I wonder if they do hold any sort of memorials. In France it is a stat holiday – as was November 1st which was All Saints Day.

Today we spent within Florence. Our initial plans were to head off doing some unloaded cycling in the countryside but I didn’t have any ambition to choose a direction and Bryan declined the leadership when I offered it to him. So we decided on today Florence the city and maybe tomorrow Florence the surrounding countryside. Ideally it would be nice to do a circular route starting outside of the city limits.

It is just as well that our lack of ambition prevented us from cycling afar. Since my last visit to Florence I had dreamed of one day returning and climbing to the top of the cupola of the Duomo or main cathedral of Florence. This is the multi-coloured building Bryan alluded to yesterday whose facade is composed of marbles of white, green, pink, and black. It really is quite striking. I just can’t decided if I like the overall effect or if it is too much of an assault on the visual senses with the coloured patterns overwhelming the structural lines of the building. Still the Duoma is a wonderful centerpoint in this city of red-tiled roofs and stucco walls. And the Duomo has a very impressive red-tiled dome. Brunulleschi was the architect of this masterpiece and was chosen from a design competition in the15th century. His plan consisted of a “double dome”. The climb to the top took us along staircases sandwiched between the two layers. There were places where Bryan could not stand fully upright. Four hundred and sixty-eight steps to the viewpoint. About the same number of steps that we climbed to get the the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower. Before we left the campground this morning, I had noted that while we were situated on a steep hill, it seemed that the dome of the Duomo was still higher. But climbing the Duomo was significantly easier than pushing my bike up to the campground. Makes me dread heading back this evening as we brought our bikes into the center of town today. Luckily there looks like a route up consisting of switchbacks.

The view from the Duomo is spectacular with red roofs everywhere and hills surrounding the city. Florence truly is a beautiful city and just seems to have this inexplicable glow. In the daylight. At night it is surprisingly lacking in lights unlike most major North American cities.

And our campsite. Yes, as per Bryan’s statement it is not level. I definitely did notice that we had a tendency to slide down the hill in our beds. However, it wasn’t the hill that was the problem last night. It was the cold. Our sleeping bags are rated to +5 (which I doubt it was below) but due to a long period of compression and a gradual loss of some down, I believe it has lost some of its R-value. Tonight I will wear more clothes!!!

Florence this time of the year is still full of tourists but nothing like Paris. However, English definitely seems to be the predominant language I hear as we walk the streets. So far we haven’t encountered any language difficulties as people has spoken either English or French.

We finally also sat down to a meal in Italy and yes the pasta IS better here. Well our perception of it anyway. We crossed the Ponte Vecchio which is a glitter with gold and jewels. The bridge was the previous home of butchers until one of the Medicis (the ruling family of Florence during the Rennaisance) evicted them as they had been casting their discards over the edge into the Arno River.

And David is one fine-looking guy. When we initially passed by the Academy, the museum which houses David, there was a line up. We decided not to wait but luckily came back later in the day to no lines. That 7 Euros was worth it just to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece in person. Because it really is. I’ve seen lifesize copies before. One stands outside of the Medici palace where the original originally was placed and then there is a bronzed version to which Bryan mentioned that is near our campground. The version which developed under Michelangelo’s hands is awesome where it stands towering over its viewers. He’s gorgeous with his visible muscles and tendons and veins. Wow the detail. The only thing that mystified Bryan and I that he is so perfect except his hands seem to be disproportionately large. I wonder if this has been commented on elsewhere. Definitely, David is a must-see. As well as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in Rome. Both spectacularly showing their creator’s genious.

(Note: the picture is of a copy of David as you cannot take pictures inside the museum)

We are now in a church waiting to hear an organ/flute/soprano concerto. I am, of course, getting rather nostalgic about our trip now that it is almost over. Hard to believe that we have been on the road for two months.

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