I've spent the past week in Firenze (Florence), wander walking and observing per usual.
So I wasn't really freezing, but in the shade and in the mornings/evenings, it was quite chilly. Plus, two days there was this Argentine guy in my room who would always open the window because he "was hot"... but it was freezing in our room!
Anyway, I survived and I'll be looking to buy a hat here in Bologna. Meanwhile, here's some of what I saw in Firenze:
I really liked the designs on the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, and you'll see below that I used this section as inspiration for a painting one day.
I took a free walking tour on the first morning, with tour guide Mario:
Later on I wandered into a chocolate festival! That was a fun discovery.
Here's your first peek at the big Dome, which I quickly learned is a huge landmark / attraction in Firenze.
And then there was the Ponte Vecchio, the "Old Bridge":
On another walking tour one of my final days, I learned that fisherman used to live in the upstairs apartments on this bridge, and then they'd sell their fish in the shops below. The authorities/royals didn't like the smell and what the bridge was turning into, so later on they kicked out the fisherman and put in jewelry/gold shops on the bridge, which is still what's sold there today.
Here's a pic on the bridge, where you can see a Rolex shop:
Jacki, this picture is here for you to see:
One day I walked up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which has nice views of the city (both the walk there and the plaza):
On the way down I went through a rose garden which also had many sculptures. The two that follow stuck out to me most:
If Roma was the city of funny fountain faces, Firenze is the city of interesting animal statues. First up, take a look at the bottoms of these lamp posts in a park near my hostel:
Here's what's near the top of that same post:
Behind the Basilica Santa Maria Novella, these four poor turtles had to hold up an entire statue on their backs!
And goat heads from that same fountain:
I really liked this wall on one side of Basilica Santa Maria Novella...
...so one night I painted a card for a friend, that being the inspiration.
(Above: Drinking wine out of an empty yogurt container—given to me by Maria Eduardo from Brazil—because the hostel's common room was always crazy low on cups and silverware! As in, one night there was ONE fork to be found in the whole room. One.)
Here, my tour guide from the Medici tour is pointing out a "little door" in the wall on a street, which isn't there because the people long ago used to be very short, he tell us, but because here is where they'd sell wine—so the bottle fits out through that door:
I thought this graffiti on a Do Not Enter sign was really clever:
Inside the Baptistery of San Giovanni:
Then I climbed up this bell tower, where we had really great views of the Dome:
Up a little higher to the next view point:
Up to the next level...
By the way, this dome of the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore is a big deal because it's the largest brick dome ever constructed. Ever.
In fact, it's somewhat of a mystery as to how exactly it was built, because the general technologies and tools available during the time period would not have been sufficient to build such a structure.
The three buildings that make up this Cathedral are all part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the historic center of Firenze.
Often the stairs were cramped with two-way traffic... not for claustrophobics!
Finally, here's what the top looked like:
After climbing 414 steps (82 meters) up to the top of the bell tower, I had about two hours until it was my time to enter the Dome (aka climb up 463 steps—92 meters up).
I'd had no idea that on the way up, you end up in the church, along the wall just under the dome.
You had a great view of the artwork up there, but again, not for claustrophobics! We were literally trapped against a wall, suspended way high up, waiting to move forward.
The final steps we had to climb...
... and then boom, you were up on the top—just simple railings between you and death.
I like to call this next one "A Long Way Down":
I like how I caught the dome's shadow in this next one:
Later on in a museum gift shop, I saw this cool book by Douglas Lew which was a watercolor journal of Firenze, and all of the paintings were much more abstract. So tonight in Bologna, I wanted to try a quick one myself—no pencil lines or planning, just color and basic shapes: