Club Italy Vacation 2023 Day 6

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Today was a very early morning (5:00 AM) start because we were going to Florence for the day.

The early morning view from our room.

Originally we were planning on driving but because of the traffic and no driving zones in Florence, it was decided to take the train to Florence. We had 8:15 AM tickets to the Accademia Gallery. I was the only person of our group to have seen the statue of David and that was in 1980! We all were looking forward to visiting the gallery.

We had to drive from the villa to the closest train station in Poggibonsi. Once we got the vehicles parked we made it to the train station to catch a train to Firenze Santa Maria.

Even though it was early, our group was all smiles and ready for our next adventure in Florence!

When we got off the train we had to walk quickly for our entrance into the Accademia.

We arrived a little after our timed entrance but we were able to get right in and of course our first stop was to see the stunning statue of David! It was as I remembered from 43 years ago and this time I didn’t have to view it over crowds of people.

David was sculpted by Michelangelo, 1501-1504. It stood about 17 feet tall and weighed a little over 6 tons and was carved in marble. The statue originally was placed in the public square in front of the Palazzo della Signoria. In 1873 it was moved into the Accademia Gallery. After our admiration of David we then explored the gallery on our own.

We saw more of Michelangelo’s works. The unfinished marble statue of San Matteo or St. Matthew (1504-08). We also saw the 4 Prigioni (the slaves or prisoners) and these statues were meant for the tomb of Pope Julius II. When you looked at them it appeared they were struggling to free themselves from the marble. The Palestrina Pietà was first believed to be carved by Michelangelo but experts now think it was a different sculptor because of the variations in the style. There wasn’t any documentation to support who was the sculptor.

Another room in the gallery was the finest 19th century collection of plaster casts and models by Lorenzo Bartolini and his student Luigi Pampaloni. This technique of using the plaster casts and nails that helped the sculptor put reference points onto the block of marble before carving into the stone. These casts showed how the gallery was originally used for teaching art students from the art academy next door. There also was a video we watched that demonstrated this process.

The musical instrument collection once belonged to the grand prince of Tuscany. This collection included a violin and viola by Antonio Stradivari and other unique instruments.

Below is “The Tree of Life” by Pacino di Buonaguida. This painting is based on the Book of Genesis and dates back to the early 14th century. This painting depicted Christ’s crucifixion as a tree with several branches extending from his body. And from each branch of the tree hung medals decorated with certain biblical events.

When we were finished with our visit we went to find a restaurant for breakfast/brunch because we hadn’t eaten. We found a restaurant that was opened and getting ready for lunch but they set up a spot in their back dining room for us.

After breakfast we walked around the Duomo and the Bapistry and had time to explore on our own. The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flower or Cattedrale di Santa Maria Del Fiore was commonly known as the Duomo. Construction began in 1296 and took about 150 years to complete. The cupola was a terracotta-brick dome. It was constructed between 1420 and 1436.

As we explored around the main square of Florence we came across some points of interest.

When we met again we headed to the Sant’Ambrogio district because Joe(one of our group) shared an article about this local neighborhood that wasn’t over run with tourists. It was a short walk from the Duomo and Palazzo Vecchio. The article stated that this area was a “tight-knit” community and that it was still authentic Florentine. It’s also a multi-ethnic neighborhood. Florence’s first covered food hall was located here. We found a restaurant, Cibrèo Caffe in Sant’Ambrogio and had a delicious meal! And bonus this restaurant was mentioned in the same article and it talked about how it is a restaurant that is a stand-out in the area. The owner’s son explained that their philosophy was “if you visit Florence and see a Botticelli painting and Michelangelo sculpture, you should not have to then settle for a fast-food pizza or a sandwich on the street”! Here we experienced a traditional Florentine cuisine!

Exploring the quiet side streets of the area.

When you are walking around the area, make sure you turn around and look behind you. You never know what scenic sites you might see.

Even with taking the train into Florence we still had ove 18,000 steps but it was a great day spent in the capital of Tuscany’s region. We felt we experienced some of the Renaissance art period!

We took the train back to Poggibonsi, found our vehicles and drove back to our villa where we enjoyed some wine and discussed our highlights of the day before dinner.

Our meals at the villa were always delicious! After our five-course meal, they always served a shot of Grappa! Grappa was an alcoholic pomace brandy made in Italy and contained 35 to 60 percent alcohol by volume! It was grape based and was made from the left overs from winemaking after pressing the grapes.


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