TRAVEL with pat and lew

* Florence is just spectacular!

Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 6, 2011

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This is our third time in Florence, which gives you an idea how much we like it. Pat found a rental apartment with views of the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio that are fantastic day and night. The running path along the river and across the bridges is also perfect. That’s Pat running across the Ponte Trinita just downriver from our location.

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a convention of marching bands

Timing is everything. We had barely settled into our apartment on our first Saturday night in Florence when we became aware of bands marching, drumming, playing … everywhere it seemed, with considerable partying to accompany the music, until the wee hours. On Sunday morning, we saw dozens of bands which had assembled for a convention, marching from various streets into the Piazza della Signoria. Most of them – especially the younger ones – were sober and serious. The older ones … well … at least they were still playing.

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On our first full day in Florence, outside the Duomo, we met friends from Key West. Later we discovered a common fondness for Prosecco at our apartment overlooking the Arno and had a great dinner at Trattoria Cammillo at the other end of Borgo San Iacopo.

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Our apartment overlooks the Arno River between the Ponte Vecchio and the Ponte Santa Trinita. During WWII, the retreating Nazis bombed and destroyed most of the bridges across the Arno, including Ponte Santa Trinita. A multinational group of American, British and other soldiers, known as the “Monuments Men” took initiatives to save and reconstruct the art of Europe. They managed to stop the bulldozers from disposing of the stones and statues of Ponte Santa Trinita, the curvature of which had been designed by Michelangelo at the request of Cosimo I. Fortunately, a set of plans for the bridge was found at Columbia University. Also found were all four statutes for the corners of the bridge, except for one lady’s head. Almost twenty years later, a sand-digger found that head and it was re-attached.

for more fascinating details see …

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History

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Going to the Medici Palace is like visiting old friends. The last time we were in Florence, I practically haunted the place, doing research and absorbing flavor for my soon-to-be-published novel The Pope’s Conspiracy. I almost expected to see Lorenzo and Giuliano playing football in the courtyard and was somewhat disturbed by the extensive renovations which have so far made a mess of what was Lorenzo’s ornate study.

Cosimo’s chapel in the Medici Palace is a remarkable place. It is decorated by Benozzo Gozzoli’s three wall fresco depicting the Medici family offering the gifts of the Magi. This was the place where Lorenzo de Medici asked his visitors to wait, giving them every opportunity to be even more impressed with the majesty of his family (and himself).

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It was Rosh Hashana so I went to the Great Synagogue of Florence, a survivor of the Nazi madness. The painting by Rembrandt is called The Rabbi. I forget where it actually is, so I put it where I thought he would be comfortable.

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Florence is such a special place, full of extraordinary art and architecture. But Florence is also just walking around, enjoying whatever comes into view, so I thought I would finish this post with a series of photos, random as to place and time, that express our great joy at being in this great city.

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